Gilera motorcycle logo

Giuseppe Gilera founded Gilera, an Italian motorcycle manufacturer, in Arcore in 1909. (1887–1971). Piaggio purchased the company in 1969.

Gilera purchased the Rondine four-cylinder engine in 1935. With 45 kW, it was the world’s most powerful engine at the time (60 hp). The Gilera 500 Rondine racer from 1939 was the first across-the-frame 4-cylinder motorcycle. It had water-cooled double-overhead camshafts, a forced-inducting supercharger, and produced 60 kW (80 hp) @9000 with a top speed of 140 mph (230 km/h). [1] For nearly four decades, this was the foundation of Gilera’s racing machines. Gilera began producing four-stroke engine machines in the mid-1930s. The engines ranged from 100 to 500 cc, with the 1939 Saturno being the most famous. The Saturno, designed by Giuseppe Salmaggi, was inspired by the pre-war Gilera VTEGS 500 cc “Otto Bulloni” but was very different due to its unit construction. [2]

Gilera abruptly changed course after withdrawing from competition in 1957. They scaled back their previously successful four-stroke singles and began to focus on motocross and off-road events in collaboration with independent specialist Elmeca. Sales declined through the 1960s and by 1968 the company was in receivership. [3]

Gilera joined the Piaggio group in 1969. Gilera returned to the Grand Prix circuit in 1992, and Piaggio continues to produce small-displacement motorcycles bearing the Gilera name. The famous Arcore factory was closed in 1993, and now Piaggio in Pontedera manufactures Gilera motorcycles (only scooters).