2011 Van Veen OCR 1000 Rotary Engine Motorcycle

It created a big sensation when the prototype debuted in 1974, but mechanical, fuel efficiency, and supplier issues cut short production of the Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle.

| September/October 2011

  • left profile view of parked Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
    Only 38 Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycles were made during its initial production run in the mid- to late-70s. Plans are in the works to build 10 more.
    Photo by Hans Koopman
  • Andries Wielinga and Dirk Knip with Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
    Andries Wielinga (left) and PR man Dirk Knip with the first of 10 new OCR 1000s.
    Photo by Hans Koopman
  • gas tank and gauges of Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
    Cockpit of the 2011 Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle has a speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer and indicator lights.
    Photo by Hans Koopman
  • new 2011 Van Veen OCR1000 rotary engine motorcycle
    The new Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle looks almost identical to the original prototype.
    Photo by Hans Koopman
  • original Van Veen OCR1000 rotary engine motorcycle prototype
    The original prototype of the Van Veen OCR 1000, shown during testing in the mid-1970s. Production of the original OCR ended around 1981; it cost twice as much as a contemporary BMW R100RS.
    Photo by Hans Koopman
  • front view of rider on Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
    Test riding the new 2011 Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle.
    Photo by Hans Koopman

  • left profile view of parked Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
  • Andries Wielinga and Dirk Knip with Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
  • gas tank and gauges of Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle
  • new 2011 Van Veen OCR1000 rotary engine motorcycle
  • original Van Veen OCR1000 rotary engine motorcycle prototype
  • front view of rider on Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle

2011 Van Veen OCR 1000
Claimed power:
100hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 135mph (claimed)
Engine: 996cc oil/water-cooled two rotor Wankel
Weight (wet): 647lb (294kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 5.8gal (22ltr) / 24mpg (est.)
Price: $125,000 (est.)

Four slightly faded snapshots in my oldest photo album bear silent witness to my first encounter with the Van Veen OCR 1000 rotary engine motorcycle in 1974. On the same page is a picture of a red Honda Gold Wing. They were two world firsts I photographed as an adolescent motorcycle enthusiast at that year’s Cologne exhibit, not realizing how much influence both machines would have on motorcycle history.

The Gold Wing created a new class of touring motorcycle, and 37 years later it’s a familiar face in the motorcycle world. The Van Veen, on the other hand, was gone almost before it appeared, but in European circles it was a style icon of unprecedented magnitude. There, it still fires the imagination of a generation of motorcycle enthusiasts.

Inspired by the promise of emerging rotary motorcycle technology, the Van Veen was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, it never got the chance to prove how good — or bad — it really was. Even today, the OCR 1000 looks contemporary and familiar. In Europe, any motorcycle enthusiast 50 years or older knows the machine, but hardly anyone has ever seen one in the flesh, let alone ever ridden one. That’s hardly surprising, given the fact that only 38 were built before supplier Comotor stopped building the Van Veen’s rotary engine, putting an early end to production.



Van Veen History

Dutchman Henk van Veen earned his money as an importer of the German 50cc Kreidler. As owner of the Van Veen Racing team he achieved great success with multiple 50cc world championships. A man of vision, van Veen saw a great future for bigger bikes and Kreidler couldn’t deliver them, so he decided to build one himself. His would be no ordinary motorcycle, but a Wankel-engine powered Superbike.

In the late 1960s, several car manufacturers explored the rotary engine as an alternative to conventional piston engines. Comotor in Luxembourg built a two-rotor rotary engine used by Citroën and Audi/NSU. Compact by design, it was perfect for van Veen’s needs. For motorcycle use it was equipped with a special clutch, oil pump, transmission, ignition and starter. The gearbox was redesigned by Porsche just for the OCR 1000.

RossT120R
9/22/2011 10:35:20 AM

You really have to want something different to pay that kind of money!




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