There aren’t many motorcycles in a rotary engine configuration that history hasn’t quietly forgotten, but the legacy of the Norton RCW588 from the 90s has endured… and now it’s ethos has been revived by the brand-new Crighton CR700W.
The Norton-reference isn’t as clunky as it may sound because Brian Crighton – the man behind his eponymous CR700W – was also the brains that developed rotary power for the RCW588, a model that broke new ground with its performance, innovation and success, going on to clean up the trophies on track too.
However, rotary power – for all of its benefits with being smaller, lighter and higher-revving – came with its own limitations of reliability and rehab-levels dependency on oil changes.
Then again, technology has come a long way and while rotary doesn’t perhaps have a place to in an electric future, Crighton has developed a new sportsbike that serves a broader purpose today.
Powered by a 220bhp 699cc twin-rotor engine that revs free and easy all the way up to 10,500rpm with peak torque 9,500rpm. That equates to a 319hp per litre, which is more potent that remarkably most MotoGP bikes and even the Ferrari F2004 F1 car.
As well as being lighter, the twin-rotor 699cc engine offers better packaging potential and can be mounted more centrally to provide more agile and stable handling. Dry weight sits at a fearthery 129kg only.
Crighton says particular attention has been placed on the gearbox, which is notoriously problematic due to added stress when mated to a rotary engine. However, a quick removal cassette, dog-ring, super-finished, gear cluster with increased width for extra durability.
Resplendent in its minimalist ‘naked’ carbon fiber and brushed aluminium finish, the Crighton CR700W is a stripped back, poised-looking sportsbike, complete with a cowled front-end and wings that bear more than a striking resemblance to Moto2 GP bikes and – by extension – the recently revealed track-only KTM RC 8C.
A step forward from the KTM in that it can be taken out on the road, the Crighton CR700W won’t be cheap – at £85,000 – though the company is seeking only 25 buyers for this exclusive run.
The machine has already captured some impressive attention with one Peter Hickman replying to a tweet suggesting he has no doubt it could become the first sportsbike bike to complete a 140mph+ lap of the Isle of Man TT course he currently holds the record for.
Plus, that engine noise… oh the noise!
Who’s ready for an eargasm? https://t.co/fT2dW9x3fG
— Peter Hickman (@peterhickman60) June 1, 2020