Rotary engine on a motorcycle from Suzuki

By: On: November 28th, 20100 Comments »Updated: December 17, 2011

Suzuki RE5 rotary motorcycle engine from 1976 The 1975 Suzuki RE5 is famous as the first production street bike from Japan to come equipped with a rotary engine.  It was an odd bike to say the least, but also quite interesting from a visual as well as mechanical perspective.

The engine was a liquid-cooled 497cc NSU Wankel rotary design that was rated at 62 hp at 6200 rpm and 54.9 ft-lb torque at 3500 rpm.  Back then, those were impressive numbers for a 500cc class motorcycle.


Very smooth vibration-free ride, even at high speed.  Front brakes twin disc and rear drum.  Weight was approximately 562 lbs with full tank.

To go along with the novelty of the rotary engine was a futuristic-looking horizontal tube lens for the gauges and tail light.  The gauges were located inside of what looked like one of those plastic tubes from a bank drive-thru teller window, except with a blue tint to it.  To make it even more funky, this rounded window cover actually retracted when you turned the ignition key.

Suzuki RE5 rotary motorcycleThe US list price for the ’75 Suzuki RE5 was $2475.  A 12 month or 12,000 mile warranty came standard and covered all internal engine and transmission components.

In the end, the rotary engine was not a commercial success for Suzuki motorcycles.  The early models had some issues with throttle response, namely a lag, but was said to have been resolved soon after.

The 1976 RE5 had a more conventional style to it without the tubular gauge cover.  Suzuki discontinued their rotary motorcycle engine after the 1976 model year, making the RE5 a rare and unique 2-year vintage model that collectors look for today.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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