• Apr 14, 2009
Norton NRV588 rotary-powered motorcycle - Click above to watch the video

Undoubtedly, the company that's most often associated with rotary engine technology is Mazda. The Japanese automaker has been building Wankel powerplants for decades, with the current RX-8 standing alone as the only new automobile powered by the innovative engine architecture. In reality, though, many firms have experimented with the rotary engine, including Suzuki, which offered a rotary-powered motorcycle in the Seventies. Up until the mid-Nineties, European racetracks were filled with the buzzing sounds of Wankel-engined Norton motorcycles terrorizing their larger four-stoke twin-cylinder competitors and winning races such as the Isle of Man TT in 1992.

That unmistakable buzzsaw sound is set to make a comeback at this year's running at the Isle of Man as the latest Norton revival takes to the track. Click past the break for a video of the rotary-powered NRV588 as it makes a few laps at Donington Park and the dyno. Pay special attention to the exposed exhaust pipes, which reportedly get so hot they need to be made from Inconel.

[Source: Visordown via Asphalt and Rubber]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, Inconel. That stuff has been used for heat shielding near jet and rocket engines, like on the ADM-20 Quail decoy:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADM-20_Quail
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      can you really call the Wankel engine "innovative" when it's over 50 years old?

      ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      The amount of rotary hating is just silly. It's fine though since it means that it's rare to see cars like my RX-8 on the street. Try going through a tunnel at redline in one and you might look at things in a different light.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I dont know why everyone hate rotarys and spreading misinformations about them. Yes exhast is really hot, but what cooling heat, heat in oil etc. Well rotary have these also a bit higher therefor that large radiator. BUT overall efficiency is quite good. Does haters even know what is specific fuel consumption?? Most gasoline ICE AT FULL LOAD have around 0,5lbs/HP.hour and wankel rotary isnt exception. And when it comes to racing rotaries they were and are almost bulletproof in terms of reliability and durability. Mazda is most reliable factory in le mans, 67% of cars finished and 787b in 1991, not only win outright, but also had lowest fuel consumption.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You guys talk about the engine being inefficient because of the hot exhaust, however you are all looking at it that wrong. Rotaries are still combusting in the exhaust stroke slightly. There is more time in a piston engine for the power charge to cool before the exhaust valve opens up than there is before the exhaust port opens in a rotary. This is the exact why a open exhaust rotary is so flame proned. On average a rotary exhaust is around 400 degrees hotter than a piston engines exhaust.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would buy a rotary powered street bike. If 1000cc four cylinder engines rev to 13K and beyond, I bet a 400-600cc rotary should be good for15K+. That would be downright awesome.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've never really like the sound of the rx7 or rx-8 that much to be honest. Especially with a straightpipe; sounds like a chainsaw. This one seems better however.
      Also, can someone find the redline on this thing? A small displacement Wankel should rev to infinity.
      • 5 Years Ago
      wow...
      • 5 Years Ago
      The wankel is such a perfect engine for a bike. Small, light, and tons of RPM range.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ah i love the sound of a racing Wankel in the morning
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've gotten burned while getting off a motorcycle, and can't imagine the damage this exhaust system would cause!

      Just one more reason to wear the full protective gear.
    • Load More Comments