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10 Things We Just Learned About The Awesome Crighton CR700W Motorcycle

Jan 30, 2024

The CR700W, designed and built by Brian Crighton, is a rotary-powered beast with a better power-to-weight ratio than MotoGP bikes.

Almost all automotive enthusiasts have at least one discontinued vehicle they once fell in love with and wish could be brought back. They also have cars they would like to see discontinued, never to see the light of day again. Once in a while, a beloved car or motorcycle makes a comeback after years of absence.

A piece of engineering mastery was unveiled at the National Motorcycle Museum in a two-day event at the end of October this year. A fitting venue for the Crighton CR700W, which seeks to revive the rotary engine in motorcycles that was seemingly lost in history. Brian Crighton, the brains behind the project, was present to talk and give details about the upcoming bike. Here's what we learned about the awesome Crighton CR700W, which is the product of a partnership between a rotary engine genius and rotary aero-engine specialist Rotron Power.

The automotive market hasn't seen a production vehicle with a rotary engine since the Mazda RX-8 was discontinued in 2012. This is bound to change with Crighton Motorcycles bringing it back with their CR700W 220hp, 690cc bike taunted the 'ultimate track bike.'

The Wankel engine design is considered one of the near misses of 20th-century engineering. It was previously used in a handful of motorcycles, notably by Hercules, Van Veen, and Norton, including the Norton Commander, F1, Interpol 2, and the Norton RCW588.

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The CR700W is designed and built primarily to tear up racing tracks rather than ride on the streets. The spec sheet is comparable to what you find in a MotoGP motorcycle, with some figures even more impressive. A 690cc dual-rotor engine generates 220hp and 105lb-ft of torque to propel the 285lbs bike. The combined weight of the engine and the gearbox adds to 95pounds. This is Moto3 weight with superbike power numbers.

It is also worth noting that the CR700W is neither road nor race legal after the ban of rotaries in the mid-90s. Maybe that is why they plan to build just a few units of the bike?

The CR700W's outward appearance shows it hasn't changed much in over a decade. That is because the bike has bodywork similar to the 2009 Norton NRV588, which was meant to signal Norton's return to the Isle of Man TT, only to disappoint fans. Regardless, Crighton continued work on the project for the next twelve years in collaboration with aero-engine specialists Rotron Power.

The thorough development resulted in an engine far more advanced than the Norton rotaries of the 1990s.

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The CR700W will bring back memories of Steve Hislop piloting the Norton 588 race bike to win the 1992 Senior Isle of Man TT. The legendary bikes also brought wins to the likes of Trevor Nation and Steve Spray to the British Championship between 1989 and 1994. Brian Crighton, the brains behind the CR700W, is the same man who created the victorious Norton 588s by exploiting the capacity rules that failed to consider the superior power rotary engines can produce from small cubic capacities.

The former racing champion and engineer claims that at 73 years of age, the CR700W encapsulates the absolute best of his engineering wisdom.

The CR700W has notable engineering advancements, including in-house cast and machined structural components, an internal cooling channel not seen anywhere before, and ultra-low friction apex seals made of silicon nitride ceramic material. But an impressive addition is Crighton's exhaust ejector system innovation.

The system is made of titanium and Inconel and utilizes the rotary engine's exhaust system to create a high-energy vacuum through the engine's core. The vacuum facilitates a continuous airflow through the finned apex of each rotor tip, resulting in extra air cooling.

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Rotary racing motorcycles of old seemed to suffer from weak gearboxes as they weren't robust enough and struggled to take in the incredible power produced by the rotary engine under racing conditions. The CR700W promises to fix this by employing a custom-made transmission system that uses a quick-removal cassette, dog-ring, and a wider extra finished gear cluster that promises extra durability. Also, it comes with a slipper clutch by Nova Transmissions and an idler gear that reverses the engine to help keep the front wheel grounded under acceleration and cornering.

The bike comes with the option of premium Öhlins or Bitubo superbike spec shock absorbers both at the front and back. A pair of Brembo's superbike monobloc spec brakes help riders confidently slow down the 220hp monster.

The 690cc rotary motor on the 285-pound CR700W makes 220hp at 10,500rpm, which translates to 319 hp per liter, and 0.77hp/lb. For context, most 1000cc MotoGP bikes make about 300hp, with a power-to-weight ratio of about 0.714hp/lb.

The bike's power-to-weight ratio is also better than the uber-powerful 326hp Kawasaki H2R, which is quite bulky despite its high horsepower figures. This shows the weight shaving strengths of the rotary engine as it produces massive numbers in a small package. We can only wait and see how it performs against the big boys where it matters; on the track.

The Crighton CR700W promises to provide an amazing riding experience. Vibrations will remain at a minimum even at high revs since the rotary engine spins in one direction, unlike reciprocating piston engines. According to former British Supersport Champion Mason Law, riding the CR700W felt like being propelled down an aircraft runway in a fighter jet.

With low weight, plenty of power, low center of gravity, and no vibrations, the bike will be as close as one can get to riding a MotoGP bike from the 2-stroke era, only with more advanced tech features onboard.

The CR700W's impressive figures come at an equally high price tag from a road-going-bike perspective. In the UK, the bikes start at £85,000, which is a little over $114,000. For comparison, the 2022 Kawasaki H2R will set you back less than half this price at $49,400. Perhaps the closest superbike in terms of price is the Ducati Superleggera V4 that costs $100,000.

Buyers can choose to upgrade their bikes with Öhlins or Bitubo shock absorbers. Also, they will have the option to customize it into a street-legal bike or keep it track-only as originally intended.

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According to Crighton, only 25 CR700W bikes will be built, and this could be down to the fact that they will all be hand-built by Crighton himself at the Rotron HQ. The chassis for the bike is crude, and mass-producing a new, entirely modern design chassis would require convincing a firm that they can utilize it in production motorcycles.

Consequently, the CR700W will most likely be a highly sought-after collector's item, with only a couple dozen of them running around. Also, a third party can come in and produce replicas similar to a Kramer, except with a rotary engine.


Bryan is a content marketer who works as a staff writer for where he covers a variety of topics, from the first Motorwagen to the latest Electric vehicles. A writer by day and a programmer by night. When he is not writing about cars, catch him tinkering with his old motorcycle.