The Gilera company was founded in 1909 by
Giuseppe Gilera in Milan. His first machine was a 317cc overhead-valve engine
which had a belt drive. Subsequent engines were side valve until 1926. They then
went back to over-head valves .
A 1921 496cc Gilera Side Valve(Left) The Famous San Remo (Right)
In 1935 Gilera acquired rights to the Rondine four cylinder engine. This formed
the basis for Gileras racing machines nearly forty years. From the mid thirties
Gilera developed a range of four-stroke engine machines. The engines ranged from
100-500cc. The most famous of which was the 1939 Saturno.
Post war machines were based on four-stroke singles and parallel twins. From
this came the famous World Championship winning San Remo. It takes it's name
from it's victorious debut at the 1947 Ospedaletti Grand Prix near San
Remo.Gilera rode these fast machines himself and broke many records with them.
In 1969 the company was bought out by the Piaggio Group, constructors of the
Vespa scooter. It developed new 49cc-125cc two-stroke bikes as well as
continuing to develop the original Gilera four-stoke range.
1966 Speciale Strada 1972-75 150cc Arcore 1993 Nord West
1985 Brought a new 350cc four-stroke single engine. Later this was enlarged to
558cc and was used in the trail bikes and the Café racer style Nuovo Saturno.
There was also a return to Grand Prix racing in the 250cc class.
In 1993 Piaggio unexpectedly closed the Gilera factory at Arcore bringing to an
end over 84 years of motorcycle manufacturing.
New Gilera models were released by Piaggio in 1987 and traded on its association
with Gilera's sporting reputation. In 1992, Gilera made a return to the Grand
Prix arena and Piaggio continues to produce small-displacement motorcycles with
the Gilera name.
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