Rotary Power – 1978 Hercules W2000

In Germany, Standard by Abhi1 Comment

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Post-Sale Update: This Hercules W2000 sold for $8,000 with the Buy-It-Now – it seems the seller dramatically lowered the opening bid to move this bike.

When you think of rotary engines nowadays, Mazda is usually the first manufacturer to come to mind. In the early 70s, though, several companies were exploring the engine concept – three of whom were in the motorcycle space. Suzuki, Norton, and DKW all brought rotary-powered bikes to the market, but DKW was the first. Outside of the UK, it was sold as the Hercules W2000, and while the engine was unconventional, everything else was as you’d expect. Bike magazine called it “an outstanding machine in its own right”, even ignoring the novel powerplant. Now we know that rotary power barely went anywhere, but this was a real breakthrough in the industry at the time.

Hercules W2000 - Right Side

The engine was actually a single-rotor air-cooled snowmobile engine built by Fichtel & Sachs. Displacing 294cc, the engine produced 23 horsepower (although that was later increased to 32.) Cooling was taken care of by a large fan that you can see in front of the engine. This is a ’78 model, which means the engine was lubricated from a separate oil tank via a pump. Build quality was supposedly excellent, and the rotary engine barely yielded any vibration. It was supposedly very comfortable to ride, even up to the top speed of about 95 miles per hour. Want to learn more? Check out this writeup from Frank Melling over at Motorcycle-USA.

Hercules W2000 - Engine

This specific Hercules W2000 has just 3 miles! It’s never been registered, and is still on the MSO. Stored as part of a large collection, it’s one of the rarest versions of an already rare bike. 1800 examples of the 1st generation were built (where you have to mix the oil yourself). Just 199 of this version were built, where the premix is taken care of for you. I’ve never seen a W2000 in as nice shape as this.

Hercules W2000 - Tank

Find this Hercules W2000 for sale in Tullahoma, Tennessee with an opening bid of $14,995

Hercules W2000 - Left Side

If you’d rather pay less for an example with (barely) more miles, the seller is also offering a similar bike with 31 miles for $8,000 Seems like the better buy, unless you’re looking for the best possible museum piece? UPDATE: Nevermind, this bike has already sold!

These bike-uriousities brought to you by John!

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