Riders are a sentimental lot, and we love to get nerdy about motorcycle history. As with anything, some niches invariably lay claim to your heart more than others. Still, those familiar with Norton Motorcycles’ rotary racing glory days in the 1980s and ‘90s will definitely recognize the name of Brian Crighton. He went from racer to brilliant engineer behind such Norton rotary-engined racing projects as the RCW588 and later, the NRV588.
All engine configurations have both fans and detractors, just as all engine configurations have both strengths and weaknesses. The seeming simplicity of a rotary design, in the past, was frequently counterbalanced by the state of available materials science. Even if your design would work well under ideal conditions, there’s not much you can do if it wears out too quickly in the real world to be practical. Unless, of course, you’re Brian Crighton.
A bona fide master of the Power Dorito™, Crighton just kept working away, refining his vision, and waiting for materials science and manufacturing processes to catch up. Most importantly, he never, ever gave up on his ideal concept of efficient, effective rotary power. Thus, in 2021, Crighton Motorcycles unveiled the CR700W. It’s an extremely special track bike offering buckets of usable power in a very lightweight, well-handling package.
The 690cc twin-rotor engine makes a claimed 220 horsepower at 10,500 rpm, as well as 105 foot-pounds of torque at 9,500 rpm. The engine is constructed entirely out of LM24 aluminum alloy, which is machined in-house. Engine wear surfaces use molybdenum and Nikasil plating to reduce friction and increase wear resistance. Additionally, the rotor seals—a common weak point in some designs—are two-piece silicone nitride ceramic apex seals. Crighton says they’re both ultra-low density and extremely hard, resulting in “close to zero wear characteristics.”
Putting all that power through a gearbox that can’t handle it simply wouldn’t do. So, Crighton crafted a more durable six-speed unit, along with a slipper clutch. The whole unit is made by Nova Transmissions, and together with the engine, weighs only 43 kilograms—or just under 95 pounds. The overall dry weight of the finished machine is 129.5 kilograms, or just under 285 and a half pounds.
Developed by Crighton Motorcycles and Rotron Power, just 25 of the CR700W track-exclusive bikes will ever be made. Not only that, they’ll be assembled by hand in the U.K. by Brian Crighton himself. Top-shelf componentry complements this pinnacle of Crighton’s engineering career, including Brembo brakes and a choice of Öhlins or Bitubo suspension options.
“The CR700W is a unique motorcycling masterpiece and a true work of art, born out of Brian’s passion and genius when it comes to creating extraordinary engines and race bikes. It is more powerful per cc than any other normally aspirated engine in the world, with a greater power-to-weight ratio than the Aprilia RSV4, or even the supercharged Kawasaki H2 R,” Rotron Power Limited CEO Alex Head said in a statement.
“The performance speaks for itself, yet despite the numbers it is far from a highly-stressed racing engine that needs rebuilding after every race weekend, and instead, thanks to its low-revving design, ultra-low friction materials and unique internal geometry, it is resoundingly robust and reliable, and will run a full season before requiring internal inspection. There are few machines as exclusive, with performance and uniqueness to match,” Head concluded.
“In so many ways the CR700W is the culmination of my career’s achievements. Developed with my excellent lead engineer, Shamoon Qurashi, it encapsulates the absolute best of my engineering wisdom. And I believe the result is the ultimate track and racing motorcycle,” Brian Crighton added.
Pricing starts at 85,000 pounds sterling, or about $116,220. To register your interest or find out more about the bike, you can contact Crighton at the link in our Sources.