1936 Gilera Rondine.
Two rings in motorcycling history.
Gilera's history has its roots in the early part of the twentieth century. The first motorcycle to bear this name, the VT 317, was produced in 1909 by Giuseppe Gilera.
In the years following World War I, Gilera produced the 500 cc side valve motorcycles that went on to win major international races. From the mid-Thirties the production of motorcycles with a valve in the crankcase, such as the "Quattro Bulloni 500" and the "Otto Bulloni", began.
The "Rondine", a futuristic cross-racing bike with a four cylinder 500 cc engine, dates to 1936. The motorcycle set several world records (274.181 kph on a flying run in 1937: a record that remained unbeaten for almost two decades) and won Dorino Serafini the 1939 European Championship.
After the war Gilera presented the new Saturno 500 and a range of medium-high displacement motorcycles. The four cylinder 500 cc became the new winner: Umberto Masetti was world champion in 1950 and 1952, followed by Geoff Duke (three wins) and Liberati (one title). Gilera also collected six manufacturer's championship wins, three Tourist Trophies, seven Italian titles and an impressive record win by Bruno Francisci at the Milano-Taranto race.
In all Gilera won 44 international Grand Prix titles before its exit from racing in 1957. It was also a strong contender in off-road racing, dominating several International Six Day races. Standard production models included medium-displacement bikes such as the Giubileo, Rossa, Turismo and the Sport. In the higher displacement range, besides the Saturno, the 300 dual cylinder deserves a mention.
In 1969 Gilera became part of the Piaggio Group which undertook a complete reconstruction. It re-launched the historic dual ring brand, transferring it to the production of small and small-to-medium displacements on a range of on and off-road models. Innovations such as the production of the ground breaking 125cc Dual Cylinder Cross motorcycle highlighted the Gilera name again, this time in cross racing.
In the 1980s a new single cylinder four stroke with dual cam distribution was produced, first in standard 350 and 500 cc versions and then in a 600 cc version. This was a winner twice in its class at the Paris-Dakar rally and overall champion at the Pharaohs rally. Gilera's 125cc novelties included the avant-garde powerful "SP O2" and the "CX 125".
In the 1992 and 1993 seasons it returned to Word Championship status in the 250 class. In 1993 production was transferred to Pontedera and the Gilera brand began to develop sport scooters such as the Runner, an innovative scooter-motorcycle hybrid. In all, nearly 700,000 Gilera branded vehicles have been produced since 1993.
Multi-gear small motorcycles include the enduros H@K, Surfer and the "supermotard" GSM. In 1998 Gilera returned to its motorcycling origins with the 125cc four stroke cruiser Coguar. The year 2000 marked the launch of the revolutionary DNA, a "naked" motorcycle with an automatic engine that pushes the scooter and motorcycle concepts even closer together.
In 2001 the double-ring brand returned to the Grand Prix. With the young rider Manuel Poggiali (a native of the Republic of San Marino), Gilera was one of the top players in the 125cc class, with Poggiali heading the classifications. On the 20th May 2001 on the Le Mans circuit Poggiali registered a breathtaking victory, arriving first at the finish line. It had been 38 years since the last Gilera victory, when John Hurtle triumphed in the 500cc class at the Grand Prix in Assen, Holland. At the end of an exciting season, having notched up another two victories at the Portugal and Valencia Grand Prix and a total of 11 podium placements, Manuel Poggiali was 2001 World Champion in the 125cc class.
It was a victory that had been awaited for 44 years. Gilera has been truly back in the race.
In 2002 Gilera confirms its priority role in Motor Cycle Worldchampionship and again Manuel Poggiali leaded many of the races, arriving finally second and fighting for the final wonship till the last race.
Gilera's Championship Wins.
Manufacturer World Championships.
1952 - 500cc
1953 - 500cc
1954 - 500cc
1955 - 500cc
1957 - 500cc and 350 cc
Rider World Championships.
1950 - Umberto Masetti - 500cc
1952 - Umberto Masetti - 500cc
1953 - Geoff Duke - 500cc
1954 - Geoff Duke - 500cc
1955 - Geoff Duke - 500cc
1957 - Libero Liberati - 500cc
2001 - Manuel Poggiali - 125cc
2002 - Manuel Poggiali - 125cc
2003 - Stefano Bianco - 125cc
Grand Prix Wins.
500cc - 35 victories
350cc - 2 victories
125cc - 8 victories
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