Hercules W-2000: The First Rotary-Powered Motorcycle

The Hercules W-2000, the first rotary-powered motorcycle, was developed in the late 1960s based on the Wankel rotary

| March/April 2012

  • Hercules W-2000 feature view
    1976 Hercules W-2000
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 right full view
    1976 Hercules W-2000
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 right side closeup
    The Wankel's single exhaust outlet splits behind the cylinder before feeding twin mufflers.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 meters
    1976 Hercules W-2000 instrument panel
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 left closeup
    The Wankel's single exhaust outlet splits behind the cylinder before feeding twin mufflers.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 front view closeup
    From the front, the Sachs Wankel looks like a jet engine.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 tool kit
    Rear hinging seat reveals a tool kit and easily accessible battery.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 full back view
    From the rear, the Hercules looks like just another motorcycle.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 full left view
    Slash-cut muffler share a passing resemblance to LaFranconi units of the period. Heat shield mounts on both sides of the mufflers mean they can be interchanged left and right.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 oil level
    Sight tube shows oil level for oil injection.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Hercules W-2000 choke position decal
    Decale for chock position shows "Start" in English, yet uses the German "Bertrieb" for normal.
    Photo by Ken Richardson
  • Riding the Hercules W-2000
    1796 Hercules W-2000
    Photo by Ken Richardson

  • Hercules W-2000 feature view
  • Hercules W-2000 right full view
  • Hercules W-2000 right side closeup
  • Hercules W-2000 meters
  • Hercules W-2000 left closeup
  • Hercules W-2000 front view closeup
  • Hercules W-2000 tool kit
  • Hercules W-2000 full back view
  • Hercules W-2000 full left view
  • Hercules W-2000 oil level
  • Hercules W-2000 choke position decal
  • Riding the Hercules W-2000

Hercules W-2000
Engine:
294cc air-cooled single rotor Sachs Wankel, 8.5:1 compression ratio, 32hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 90mph
Weight (dry): 381 lb (173kg)
Price then/now: $1,900/$4,000-$7,500

When Ron Schavrien got into motorcycling, he approached it from a different perspective than most people. He wasn’t a piston-crazed high school student, studying the latest motorcycle magazines to scope out the rides, and he didn’t hang around the bikes in the parking lot at lunch time.

Oddly, it wasn’t until he became an emergency medical technician that he even thought to swing a leg over a motorcycle. “As a paramedic, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to ride a bike,” Ron explains. “It just didn’t make any sense. If a dog ran out in front of you, you’d go down. In 1980, I bought a bike of my own to find out what the attraction was.”

Hook, line and sinker, Ron bit hard, and quickly grasped the attraction of two-wheeled power. He kept his first bike, a 1974 Yamaha TX500, just a few short months before buying a friend’s Honda CX500 because it had saddlebags. Ron did some touring, and the CX kept him occupied until he discovered the Gold Wing. He joined a local Gold Wing group, and soon some of his fellow riders were choosing second motorcycles.



Many were gravitating toward Harley-Davidson Fat Boys, but Ron thought those were common bikes — why not look for something unusual? This was around the time Ron and some motorcycling friends traveled to Europe, in September 2001, just after the airports reopened following 9/11. They rented motorcycles, and rode from Switzerland to Italy to attend the Milan Motorcycle Show.

Running into the rotary: the Hercules W-2000

During that trip Ron also visited the Deutsches Museum in Munich, where he saw a Hercules W-2000 rotary-powered motorcycle. It was love at first sight. “The Hercules was so different from anything I’d ever seen before,” Ron says. “If I was going to get a second bike, I wanted something different.”

JOHNB
12/25/2015 1:05:08 AM

YES, THIS ARTICLE ABOUT A VERY INTERESTING BIKE WAS FUN TO READ. I LIKE THIS BIKE'S SIMPLICITY AND ALTHOUGH THERE IS OIL ADDED TO IT'S GAS, I COULD NOT SEE ANY OIL SMOKE COMING OUT OF THE MUFFLERS IN THE VIDEO. THE OIL TO GAS MIXTURE MUST BE PRETTY LEAN COMPARED TO A SIMILAR ROAD USE TWO STROKE OF THE MID-SEVENTIES. I ENJOY READING ABOUT THE DIFFERENT ENGINE DESIGN BIKES WHICH HAVE BEEN TRIED OVER THE YEARS. IF THIS BIKE AND ENGINE WERE UPDATED TO TODAY'S AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY, I EXPECT THAT IT'S ENGINE PERFORMANCE COULD BE MUCH IMPROVED. I'D LOVE TO SEE THIS UPDATED ROTARY ENGINE TRIED THESE DAYS ON A BIKE. A VERY GOOD ARTICLE!


Phil Dupin
3/1/2012 3:43:31 PM

Great article and video profile.







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Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride


Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!

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