The Big Car Database

Gilera Motorcycles

Industry Motorcycle and Scooter
Founded 1909
Founder Giuseppe Gilera
Headquarters Pontedera, Italy
Area served
Owner Rudy
Parent Piaggio
Gilera exhibit
1954 Gilera 150 Sport

Gilera is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded in Arcore in 1909 by Giuseppe Gilera. In 1969, the company was purchased by Piaggio.


In 1935, Gilera acquired rights to the Rondine four-cylinder engine. This formed the basis for Gilera' s racing machines for nearly forty years. From the mid-thirties, Gilera developed a range of four-stroke engine machines. The engines ranged from 100 to 500 cc, the most famous being the 1939 Saturno. Designed by Giuseppe Salmaggi, the Saturno was inspired by the pre-war Gilera VTEGS 500cc “Otto Bulloni” yet was quite different due to its unit construction.

In 1969, Gilera became part of the Piaggio group.

In 1992, Gilera made a return to the Grand Prix arena and Piaggio continues to produce small-displacement motorcycles with the Gilera name. The famous factory of Arcore was closed in 1993 and now the motorcycles (only scooters) bearing the name Gilera are produced by Piaggio in Pontedera.

Racing history

After World War II, Gilera dominated Grand Prix motorcycle racing, winning the 500 cc road racing world championship six times in eight years.[citation needed] Facing a downturn in motorcycle sales due to the increase in the popularity of automobiles after the war, Gilera made a gentleman's agreement with the other Italian motorcycle makers to quit Grand Prix racing after the 1957 season as a cost-cutting measure.

The 1957 500 cc machines on which former World Champion rider Geoff Duke had much success were resurrected in 1963, but with the benefit of newer, upgraded tyre technology of the 1960s were considered still competitive. The team was devised by Duke to challenge the domination of Mike Hailwood on the MV and had early successes with riders Derek Minter and team mate John Hartle at Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Imola, Italy.

In May 1963 Minter suffered serious injuries when racing a Norton at Brands Hatch, and his place in the team for the TT races was taken by Phil Read, who came third to second-place team mate Hartle. The team only raced for one season in selected races.

In 1966 Minter arranged to ride the Gileras at the TT in June, again without success as he crashed on a wet road surface after a rain shower at Brandish Corner during the last practice before race-week, breaking his left wrist which ended his racing for the rest of the race season. The bikes were raced at Brands Hatch later in the year.

European championships

Year Class Rider
1939 500cc Kingdom of Italy Dorino Serafini

MotoGP World Championship

Gilera 5004C

Gilera won the following World Titles:

  • 500 cc class; :
Year Class Rider
1950 500cc Italy Umberto Masetti
1952 500cc Italy Umberto Masetti
1953 500cc United Kingdom Geoff Duke
1954 500cc United Kingdom Geoff Duke
1955 500cc United Kingdom Geoff Duke
1957 500cc Italy Libero Liberati
  • 250 cc class; :
Year Class Rider
2008 250cc Italy Marco Simoncelli
  • 125 cc class; :
Year Class Rider
2001 125cc San Marino Manuel Poggiali

MotoGP World Constructors champions

  • 500 cc class
    • 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957

Isle of Man Tourist Trophy

  • 350 cc class
Year Champion Class Motorcycle
1957 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Bob McIntyre Class 350 cc  
  • 500 cc class
Year Champion Class Motorcycle
1955 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Geoff Duke Class 500 cc  
1957 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Bob McIntyre Class 500 cc  
1963 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom John Hartle
Class 500 cc Team Scuderia Duke Gilera  
1963 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Phil Read
Class 500 cc Team Scuderia Duke Gilera  

Motorcycle models

Historic product

  • Marte Produced during World War II for the Italian army, the Marte was a 498 cc (30.4 cu in) OHV single with 14 bhp (10 kW). Intended for use with a sidecar, the Marte had a shaft drive and hand-operated transmission.
1947 Gilera Saturno.
  • Saturno Produced after World War II until 1959 as a 498 cc (30.4 cu in) OHV single with 22 bhp (16 kW) @ 5,000 rpm and swinging-arm rear suspension using parallel, twin horizontal coil springs. The racing version designated Saturno San Remo was campaigned with success in Italian national and international races but was unable to compete with the multi-cylinder and overhead camshaft opposition.

Modern product

  • Citta (moped)
  • Coguar
  • DNA
  • Fuoco or MP3 (a revolutionary maxi-scooter with double front wheels and innovative suspension system.)
1989 Gilera Nuovo Saturno Bialbero
  • GFR
  • GP800
  • Ice
  • Nexus
  • Nordwest
  • Runner
  • Nuovo Saturno Produced from the late 1980s as a modern version of the historic Saturno using a 491 cc DOHC engine with 45 bhp @ 7,500 rpm
  • Stalker (also known as SKP)
1991 Gilera 125 CX
  • Storm
  • RCR
  • SMT
  • CX
  • MXR

Gilera SMT

The Gilera SMT is a cross moped "for the big city". It is a supermotard which means it is an offroad moped fit for the big city, but can also handle bumpy roads. It has 17-inch rims with broad tires, six gears and a 50 cc engine producing 8.5 hp (6.3 kW).