Having built bicycles for many years, Germany's Hercules produced its first motorbike in 1903 in Nuremberg. Their first motorcycle was an engine hung on a heavy-duty bicycle frame as many others were doing.
Hercules' main focus in its early years were small motorcycle/scooter design with small capacity engines. They began to increase to larger machines in the thirties and even saw some competition and long distance endurance success.
World War II resulted in heavy damage to the Hercules factory and production did not resume until 1950. Following the Second World War, Hercules concentrated on smaller two-stroke motorcycle/scooter designs with small capacity engines from Sachs. The firm began to build up a large range of bikes during the 1950s, notable among them its first twin-cylinder model, the 318 (which oddly enough featured a 247cc engine). The 318 was billed at being a luxury tourer, and produced 12 bhp. The company developed a number of new models and stuck with those models for many years which helped them survive a downturn in the German economy shortly after their release. Hercules became one of the largest motorcycle producing companies in Germany. In 1966 the company merged with the Zweirad Union which also included DKW, Express and Victoria. In 1974 Hercules released the Wankel powered W2000 and were the first company to produce a motorcycle with a Wankel rotary engine.
In 1969 Sachs took control of the firm and the Hercules name stayed, most notably used in association with the W2000 of the mid 1970s - The world's first commercially built Wankel rotary engined motorcycle.