1976 Suzuki RE5 Rotary
This is a bike that is not for the faint of heart, but…it’s a really cool motorcycle.
The rotary engine was nothing new at the time of the RE5. The first patent of the Wankell’Rotary’engine was back in 1927! However, work didn’t begin in earnest until the early 50’s at NSU in Germany. There is a lot of interesting history regarding the rotary engine, nearly every major car manufacturer was working with the Wankell design as were all four major Japanese motorcycle companies. One little bit of history I found rather humorous was that the weird looking AMC Pacer (a bubble looking sort of car) was actually designed around the rotary engine. unfortunately, GM who AMC was going to buy the motors from, stopped production of the rotary powerplant and the Pacer was built with the incredibly anemic AMC inline 6…sad.
Back to motorcycles, Even though all the ‘Big Four’ had toyed with the rotary engine only Suzuki stepped up to the plate with the RE5. This really was a technological ‘Tour de Force’ and a very bold move. Styling was somewhat typically Japanese for the time and a bit off at the same time. The ‘beer can’ instrument panel was the design of someone who had a bit of Sake’ at lunch and was approved by someone who had way too much Sake’ at lunch.
The RE5 is a really incredible motorcycle, I had the chance to ride one a few years ago and was astounded by how smooth the motor was. The power was good, not great, the handling was typically Suzuki (excellent!) but the main thing here is the motor. Because of the smoothness of the motor I would feel like I was doing 65mph when I was actually nudging 100!!
If you are the type that likes unique motorcycles and wants something way off the normal path, this RE5 is right up your alley. You’re not going to find a plethora of parts on ebay, but you will find a great deal of support elsewhere on the net. Those that have the RE5’s love them and are a very devoted group.
Click on the pics below for more info about this bike and more pictures. It is a really cool bike and well worth the investment.