If you mention rotary powered motorcycles in the US, the most common name people would recognize would be Suzuki’s Re5, in fact some sources on the Suzuki rotary say that it was the only mass produced Wankel powered motorcycle. Released in the mid 1970s, the Re5 had a two rotor water cooled 500cc Wankel based on a NSU design and built by Suzuki on a dedicated assembly line. Intended to be a halo bike and a demonstration of Suzuki’s technical prowess, the Re5 tanked in the market. It was fast and smooth, but Wankels get poorer fuel economy than piston engine and though it had an innovative powerplant, the rest of the bike was very conventional and the styling generic. The sources that say that the Re5 was the only mass produced rotary bike are wrong. At the Gilmore Car Museum’s collection of historical motorcycles sitting next to a very nice Re5, there’s a Hercules W2000, powered by a single rotor air cooled 300cc Wankel engine. That fact is proudly displayed by the Wankel badging on the side of the bike.
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