NEW Crighton CR700W – Review (2022 - on)


Price: from £95k | Power: 220bhp | Weight: 130kg (dry) | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 5/5


Review – Intro

I dislike hearing the word ‘ultimate’ when describing a motorcycle because its overused and often in the wrong context so the message ends ups being dissolved as opposed to a deliberate attention-grabbing superlative. Anyway, it’ll be superseded by a faster, lighter, more extreme version it within weeks.

However, just suppose a motorcycle was labelled ‘the ultimate racing machine’ by its creator, then it would have to be fast as fury and light as a feather among its key attributes. We often hear of manufacturers updating models with a squeak more bhp while shaving a kg here or there, and while those responsible for creating such a machine are likely to have ‘make it entertaining to ride’ a little further down the to-do list, I doubt ‘make it affordable, like £95k’ would be.

Except in this case… welcome to the wonderfully curious world of the Crighton CR700W – a limited-edition, ultra-exclusive, track-only missile that boasts a power-to-weight ratio that would performance-shame a modern-day MotoGP bike. And at its heart is a 690cc rotary engine, based on technology from the 80s. And if you wanted one of the last remaining few from the twenty-five-bike run, then you’d better be quick and you’d better get writing a cheque for at least £95,000 depending on the spec.

Brian Crighton, he of the Norton rotary championship winners from the late 80s and early 90s, teamed up with Gilo Industries – a Dorset-based engineering firm who produce helicopter engines, powered paragliders and flying beach buggies (I kid you not. Google them) with the resulting collaboration spending the past five years creating a prototype. Well, two actually because the first one was stolen but Brian’s goal “was to make a bike that somebody could buy that wasn’t ridiculous money that’d feel a bit like a MotoGP bike, like the old 2-stroke 500s they were 130kg in weight.”

Having been invited to ride the bike up the Duke of Richmond’s 1.16-mile driveway at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this summer, the experience hadn’t satisfied my yearning in fact by pootling up the hill in second gear merely stoked it. It was agreed that a jaunt around Cadwell Park at the Bennetts Track Day would be on the cards where Brian could also join us. What this rider hadn’t considered is how difficult this motorcycle was going to be to ride. Added into the mix were two other factors: it retails at 95-grand, and there’s only one of them, still in its development phase.

Did I sleep the night before? Did I heck!


Pros & Cons
  • Unique experience
  • Outrageous power
  • Lightweight handling
  • Sound, smell, flame-throwing
  • Not for the faint-hearted
  • Quirky riding characteristics
  • Flipping expensive to repair any crash damage
  • 12-month delivery time
Crighton CR700W Review Price Spec_70
Review: Crighton CR700W (prototype)

Ultra exclusive track bike with GP-spec power-to-weight ridden and reviewed


Crighton CR700W (2022) Price

How much is the 2022 Crighton CR700W? It starts at £95,000 +VAT. Despite being pitched at £85k when announced in November 2021… and throughout our video. Let’s put that into context – here is a hand-crafted motorcycle which will be one of only 25 in the world. Each will have been built to Brian’s original brief which some could say has been his lifetime’s work.

Said Mr Crighton about his ambition to match the GP500 2-stroke monsters, “I wanted to make something that somebody could buy without costing millions, and I think I’ve achieved it, it’s worked really well! It’s got over 200hp at the back wheel with over 100 lb ft of torque, and it’s 130kg. So, it’s worked out quite well!”

In terms of upgrades or options, Öhlins FGR250 / TTX GP can be requested to replace the standard fit Bitubo Moto2 spec suspension. An electric starter motor can be included as can traction control, a quick shifter and autoblipper. And if sir or madam would like a road-registered version, then that can be arranged too.

A £5k refundable deposit is all that’s required to reserve a CR700W with delivery taking 12 months from when the 50% Commit to Build deposit is received.

NB: bear in mind the bike I rode at Cadwell Park is currently (August 2022) the only Crighton CR700W in existence which it’s a rideable prototype and is NOT the finished version. That production version be neater in appearance with better fairing finishes and fitting plus tidier wiring harness, while the handlebar-mounted switchgear will be upgraded and there’s a new, full colour display.


Crighton CR700W Review Price Spec_68


Crighton CR700W (2022) Engine & Performance

As I’m perched on the bike and about to fire it up, Brian tells me, “You don’t need to rev it too hard, use the torque” which I add to the umpteen other thoughts and reminders jumbling themselves in my head. I’ve got slick tyres, a race-shift pattern gearbox, the tightest circuit in the UK, a one-of-one prototype, and a crowd of interested attendees looking on. Cor, this was getting serious. As the dolly go-kart wheel made contact with the Crighton’s rear tyre while the bike stood on a paddock stand to prompt a faux bump start, Brian yells, “start it in third gear”. It doesn’t need much encouragement and the cold 690cc Rotron engine fired into life leaving the poor mechanic with a face full of smoke. Blipping the throttle with small increments is required at first to keep the bike running while not putting too much stress on the engine – warming it up without overheating, something which I was warned of at Goodwood.

The pitchy and quick-revving rasp to the exhaust note acted like a beacon increasing the nearby crowd as those who recall the Norton rotary’s from the late 80s/early 90s of Robert Dunlop, Steve Spray and Trevor Nation had their interest piqued. The quick-action throttle requires only a few degrees of rotation to feel and hear the potential grunt, and as the engine warmed up, the volume of smoke from the underseat exhaust decreased. Cadwell’s noise testers were also quick to gather because of the racket at idle once warmed enough to do so. That said, the bike is actually quieter when being ridden than stationary. And all of that even with the dB reduction exhaust system fitted.

With more torque than Aprilia’s RSV4 or Suzuki’s Hayabusa and a higher power-to-weight ratio than any racing-spec Superbike, I was extremely cautious when coaxing this missile around Cadwell Park. From leaving the assembly area to diving into Coppice (turn one) for the first time was all it took to clear what felt like a misfire but was an engine mapping issue that will be worked on as the development continues and was only relevant to this prototype. A couple of ‘installation laps’ later with tyres warmed and engine and I was getting into the swing of how the bike delivered its power which was like taming a lion, having never tamed a lion before. The gear indicator was unconnected and the only helpful information displaying on the screen was the green lights above the rev limited, and the engine temperature. With each lap, I’d get braver on the throttle coming out of the multi-cambered final corner of Barn and onto the start/finish straight, and a full throttle in second, I’d nick third on about row 3 of the grid markings and the bike wouldn’t squat under full power but would certainly want to lift the front wheel. The association between noise and speed was warped, I was tucked in and careering towards the first corner, and despite the orientation of the light feel of the bike being able to harness the power I was commanding of it, my peripheral vision narrowed. A slight whistle from the high-pitched tone made the bike feel like a 250cc two-stroke, perform like a superbike while weighing less than a 400. It required some brain recalibration because I was travelling at a much faster rate than the sound suggested.

Without a quickshifter either up or down progress was hindered but only by the slightest margin. I grabbed fifth for a split second before backing down one, sometimes two gears. The power is relentless; linear torque for sure but with Brian’s ‘use the torque’ advice still ringing in my ears, my mechanical sympathy would have been evident on any data logging trace. Charlies 1 and 2 came and went as I dared not to use all of the track but focused on lining myself up to be catapulted long the un-straight Park Straight. Through the dip and up towards Park Corner in fifth and the Crighton was singing. The speed was outrageous, and even though the big Brembo’s didn’t have a lot to stop, because the ‘lot’ was travelling at some pace, I was eager to grab the lever at the 300-yard board and use what little engine braking there is. Just listen to it in the video, even now writing this I’m grinning as I recount a lap!

You’ll see from the photos and video that when coming off the throttle, that large underseat exhaust, in which I could almost fit my fist, would plunge a 3-foot-long flame towards anyone in my wheel tracks – all part of the entertainment.

At low rpm in any gear, the bike juddered which was unhelpful at places like the Old Hairpin or deciding to keep it in second for that horrible chicane between Mansfield and the bottom of the Mountain. Again, because the bike is still in its development phase, these are issues that will be ironed out, I’m told. This is not a bike for beginners, it can be a frightening thing with an operating window that requires the right treatment. And with no electronic aids, the power-to-weight must be respected too. So much so, that a customer commandeered the bike for a session late on in the day but returned to the paddock after two laps looking as pale as Casper.



Crighton CR700W (2022) Handling & Suspension

For a bike that has the wheelbase of a superbike but mass of a 400, I was expecting an easy machine to roll from side-to-side, particularly because it was also shod with a set of Dunlop slicks. Up on paddock stands with the obligatory tyre warmers on ahead of each session, and a doddle to move around for the lunchtime photoshoot, the Crighton was noticeably obedient on track at the likes of Hall Bends, Bottom of the Mountain, Gooseneck and the aforementioned chicane. Quick to turn and with immense precision too, allowing me to think I’m better than I am, for a few minutes at least. And that’s got to justify some of the price tag. A steering damper positioned down the frame towards my left knee assisted with the handling though interfered with the lock-to-lock angles when returning to the paddock.

Because the bike is designed specifically for this purpose, the frame is measured to fit the 690cc rotary engine snugly. It’s narrow certainly which naturally aids the bike’s dexterity. Gilo Cardozo MBE, Chief Executive of Gilo Industries explained, “This new engine was designed very specifically for a motorcycle from the ground up with the transmission system and the layout. Brian understood very well how he wanted the engine to hang within the chassis, so that was a given from the start, not integrated within the chassis like some four-cylinder bikes where it becomes part of the chassis, it’s very much the chassis is one part, and the engine drops in from underneath.”

The beautiful balance of the bike comes from this engine hugging chassis and carbon fibre fairings but also courtesy of the fully adjustable Bitubo race suspension front forks and rear shock which weren’t tinkered with at all at Cadwell. The rear certainly felt firm and even pitched a little high at the rear, and according to Mr John McGuinness MBE, who followed me for a couple of laps, “it doesn’t squat under power”. Yet despite the firmness, it still wants to wheelie in 3rd and 4th under power from mid-high rpm, and I didn’t want the bike to be sitting and rebounding under load. Brian asked after each session if there’s any adjustments, I wanted but I felt as though playing with the suspension settings each time was going to detract from learning about the already-complicated bike… either that or I was too delirious! The suspension’s adjustments are just the start of making the CR700W bespoke for the rider’s size and ability.

The big Brembo brakes needed to be good and thankfully I could trust them at the end of Park (not)Straight, each time getting braver to squeeze a little later and a little tighter. It also meant I could roll through Charlies 2 and get the throttle opening to maximum all the way to the 300 board. A time or two I tried to use the rear brake to control the front lifting, but it felt a little alien, so I sacked that off. With limited engine braking, the reliance on the brakes increases, which is another characteristic with the rotary motor to get used to.


Crighton CR700W Review Price Spec_36


Crighton CR700W (2022) Comfort & Economy

High pegs offer great ground clearance while low handlebars offer an aerodynamic riding position, a combination as old as time where fully faired race machines are concerned – and the Crighton’s ‘ultimate racing machine’ claims aren’t going to let the rider sit in too much luxury. A 25mm thin piece of foam covering the beautifully moulded carbon fibre seat saves weight and is grippy for one-piece leathers. It’s not an equation that shouts comfort, but this narrow and athletic track-focused motorcycle does not have ‘comfort’ as one of its most bestest attributes. Despite my 6ft tall and 14+ stone frame, I’d feel as wedged in or perched on as when I rode R. Dunlop’s Norton at Goodwood. This is roomier, just. With a wheelbase to compensate for the raw power that wishes to relieve the front tyre of its contact with the ground.

Looking menacing in black carbon fibre fairings and aluminium alloy frame and swing arm, with a sculpted narrow waist, looking like a 90s supermodel, that had my knees for company, it’s a snug feeling but not cramped – like a smaller race bike would be for me. The screen is low and despite my efforts to sit back in the saddle (and be less fat), I expect a more whippet-like racer to make the most of their athleticism and manage the CR700W’s ability with greater precision.



Crighton CR700W (2022) Equipment

Such was Brian Crighton’s desire to keep the bike light but also inline with the GP500 2-stroke plan, there is very little electronic about this bike. No electronic starter, traction control, wheelie control, or engine maps. It is deliberately unrefined.

According to Gilo, “It doesn’t have the electronics on it, and we’ve kept it, from that perspective, very simple and that’s what Brian really wanted – that raw race experience where the talent of the rider is really drawn out.

“I think that is part of the excitement with this project. We’ve let Brian run completely with this project, it’s his expression of what is the ultimate racing bike, and he wants to keep the purist rider experience possible.”

So, just like my mid-teens, I was relying on my right hand to do the business. Carefully feeding in the power over those first few laps of each session to understand the level of grip but also to feel where that power really starts to come in because once it shows itself, it feeds itself very quickly. Smoothly, yes but with acceleration like very few bikes I’ve experienced. Normally we associate speed with noise, and we can make a reasonable judgement based on how quickly stationary objects are in then out of our field of vision. With no electronic assistance, and I have no shame in admitting to having spent pretty much all of my professional motorcycling with traction control at my beck and call, I was most keen to stay upright.

That said, anything is possible. So, for a little extra to your invoice Crighton Motorcycles will gladly fit a traction control unit, an electric starter motor, and a quick-shifter/auto-blipper. A race-tuned exhaust, upgraded Brembo brakes and bespoke Bitubo/Öhlins upgraded race suspension, plus track day extras such as a spare engine, starter unit and a training day at Crighton’s facility are all available among the specification options.



Crighton CR700W (2022) Rivals


Ducati Superlegerra | Price: £90,000

Power/Torque: 224bhp / 85.6 lb-ft | Weight: 159kg


Honda RC213V-S | Price: £180,000

Power/Torque: 212bhp / 118 lb-ft | Weight: 160kg


Crighton CR700W Review Price Spec_71

Above: two MBEs shooting the breeze as McGuinness chats to Cardozo


Crighton CR700W (2022) Verdict

An absurd machine that deserves so many plaudits given the mechanical and engineering brilliance behind it. It’s as crackers to ride as it is to digest the spec sheet. Hard, very hard to understand the characteristics of the bike in just a handful of track sessions, and while the team continue developing the CR700W, things can only get smoother, easier and even more violent. In a good way. This is not a bike for novices – and you have to treat it with respect too. With the deliberate lack of rider aids, the safety blanket of TC or engine modes is firmly left in the van, leaving the rider and their right-hand to manipulate the grip.

Of course, Cadwell Park isn’t the bike’s ideal stomping ground with the twists, undulations and bumps running a little close for comfort with trees, barriers and limited run-off ready to snap you up with any lapse of concentration. Yes, I respected the opportunity, the price of the bike and the alien-ness of the power-to-weight, yet on the flip side… WHAT. AN. EXPERIENCE.! Balancing the low-rev, low-speed shuddering with an excitable torque-generous throttle to discover a sense of speed I’d not understood before was remarkable. Under acceleration, it felt like several superchargers were drilling more and more pace one after another, the waves of power wouldn’t stop. Feeding gear after gear merely accentuated the situation until a 300-yard board offered brief relief from this sensory overload. Once the bike has been fine-tuned further with more development miles, and some professional racer feedback particularly with the suspension set-up and fuelling, then we’re looking at a sensation.

Even after spending a week or two coming back down from that 16 x Red Bull buzz, I’m still reliving that feeling while its fresh. There’ll be some very happy customers who’ve taken the opportunity to invest in this old-fashioned-engineering-DNA-crossed-with-new-fangled technology-and-thinking. OK, we might not see many on track in the UK in the future (and the noise will be an issue) but it’ll long live in my memory as the most unique motorcycle I’ve ever ridden. Imagine playing a computer game for the very first time on the most difficult level – except this is real, it has a MotoGP-spec power-to-weight ratio and teases trees with ballerina-like composure. It sounds like a 250 race bike, revs like a 250 race bike, handles like a 600 race bike, and has the power of a 1,000cc race bike. If you were designing your own ‘ultimate racing machine’, there’s a fair chance it’d use those features too.


Crighton CR700W Review Price Spec_66


Crighton CR700W (2022) Technical Specification

New price

From £95,000 + VAT



Engine layout

Rotron twin rotor, fuel injected, wide geometry, latest generation four-stroke rotary engine (2 x 345cc rotors)

Compression ratio


Power (claimed)

220hp / 164 kW @ 10,500rpm

Torque (claimed)

142Nm / 105 lb-ft @ 9,500rpm


6-speed, Nova Racing. Road or race configuration

Average fuel consumption

Don’t ask

Tank size


Rider aids

None fitted as standard. TC, Quickshifter, Autoblipper and electric start are all options


Fabricated from 7000 series aluminium alloy

Front suspension

Öhlins FGR 250 forks as standard

Rear suspension

Öhlins TTX GP monoshock (bespoke Crighton long-stroke) as standard

Front brake

2 x Brembo HPK 320mm radial and axial floating steel discs, 2 x Brembo GP4-RX calipers (nickel plated)

Rear brake

1 x Brembo Oro 220mm disc, Brembo HPK rear caliper (hard anodised gold)

Front wheel / tyre

17” Dymag or BST 7 TEK carbon fibre with KR106 120/70R Dunlop slick or Michelin Power Sick 2

Rear wheel / tyre

17” Dymag or BST 7 TEK carbon fibre with KR108 200/70R Dunlop slick or Michelin Power Sick 2

Dimensions (l x w x h)

2040mm x 470mm x 1151mm

Seat height




Weight (dry)



12 months


Every 50 hours use

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet listed



Pics: Impact Images (Tim Keeton) and Malcolm Shorter

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance


Crighton CR700W Review Price Spec_72