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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Friday bike

Last of the bikes I considered before buying my SR 500, the most oddball, and the one I thought about for the shortest time before ruling out.
Hercules (DKW) W2000

This was built by German firm Hercules, but marketed in some countries (including the UK) as DKW. Raleigh Industries (the bicycle company) owned the rights to the name Hercules is some countries, hence the change.
It had a nominally 294cc single rotor Wankel engine built by Fischel and Sachs, which I think originally had been made for a snowmobile. As part of the deal with NSU (owners of the rights to the Wankel engine) the engine was limited to 30 hp, so the bike wasn't that powerful.
Early versions had petroil lubrication, but later had a separate oiltank mounted above the rotor and covered with an metal plate.

At the time I thought about one, I had only read about them in magazines, and this was the era when Wankel engines were 'the next big thing'. However, as we now know, that didn't work out as planned. A few years later I saw one in a bike shop and to be honest, the quality of equipment and finish were pretty poor.
Here's a cutaway engine and you can see just how small the rotor is.
I've only seen a couple since and they were both in museums, so I've never actually seen or heard one going. I found a bit of video that'll give you some idea of the sound.
The W2000 sold in very small numbers, but I believe that the engine was 'doubled up' and became the basis of the Norton Rotary. (Anyone confirm this?)

Further reading

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