Barber Motorsports Museum: 1974 Hercules W2000 Wankel Rotary Motorcycle

Hercules Rotary Motorcycle Barber Motorsports MuseumUntil I visited the Barber Motorsports Museum, the only rotary engined motorcycle that I’d ever seen or heard was the Suzuki RE-5 owned by my friend Quacka. There’s a good reason for that. There were never many production models made using a rotary mill.

Like the RE-5, the Hercules was apparently a victim of it’s own innovation – the rotary power plant was prone to heat issues. It never saw favor in the marketplace and the model died off.

The German-made Hercules W2000:

1974 Hercules W2000 Rotary Wankel Motorcycle

1974 Hercules W2000 Rotary Engine Motorcycle Barber Museum

For More Information on the Hercules W2000:

The Barber Motorsports Museum is the most amazing place. It is like a Church of Motorcycling History. Be sure to check out more blog posts from our visit there!


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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10 Responses

  1. Liz Petersen says:

    That’s an incredibly sweet-looking bike! I LOVE the rotary engines, now having owned five Mazda RX7s, four of which were convertibles. I’d love to go see this museum someday. May have to make a road trip around it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing…

    • Fuzzygalore says:

      Hey Liz 🙂
      I’m with you on the Rx-7! I had a 1990 red RX-7 convertible back in the day and LOVED that car. Unfortunately some butthole stole it and stripped it. That broke my heart.

      You MUST go to Barber. It is such a unique experience to be able to see some many beautiful and diverse motorcycles in one place. It should be on every rider’s bucket list 🙂

    • Jack says:

      The Hercules W2000 was rubbish by comparison to it’s targeted competition, the venerable Honda CB450. It had a poorly designed 6-speed transmission that penalized anyone dearly for missing a gear; a far worse fate would befall riders who over-revved it. Also gas mileage was horrendous. This is an interesting engineering artifact, but the rotaries were much better represented in the form of Suzuki RE5’s or John Player edition Nortons. Great museum pieces… just don’t drive it.

  2. Maybe the name Wankel contributed to its demise.

  3. Cadillac Jack says:

    ^ LOL

  4. Shybiker says:

    Cool. I saw the same bike (and have a picture of it) at the Auto & Motorcycle Museum at Balboa Park in San Diego a few months ago. Very interesting design.

  5. Mike says:

    I was the Hercules Western Region Distributor in 1975-1976
    The model at the museum was a non-inhected model made in 1974-75.
    In 1976 they made a fully injected model. I own a 1976 Hercules Wankel Engine motorcycle with 397 miles. It’s for sale, hopefully to a collector for rare or extremely rare motorcycles. Location: Fullerton, California.
    I’d be pleased to provide photographs, everything is original.

    The story of the termination of the manufacturing by Fichtel & Sachs was to avoid a major lawsuit for European Copyright infringement from the bicycle company in England who made the Hercules Bicycles. F&S quit
    on a Thursday to avoid problems and the potential conflict.

  6. RotaryRecycle says:

    The example at Barber, while very lovely, is not a faithful representation of the Hercules W-2000. It is a non-standard restoration and while very nicely done, is incorrect as an example of what the factory produced.

    The W-2000 is an immensely enjoyable bike to ride. It is very well made and the materials were of the highest quality available at the time. It is a very well mannered small displacement bike akin to the Honda CB-360 and is perfectly suited to an enjoyable day of carving back roads twisties.

    Properly maintained, they will last as long as any other motorcycle and give miles and miles of faithful service. They made less than 2000 units, so finding ANY example requires effort.

  1. July 30, 2010

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