With Phil Aynsley
Continuing the tour of the Piaggio Museum with a look at the Gileras. The company’s Gilera collection is displayed on the mezzanine level. Gilera became a part of the Piaggio Group in 1996.
The 1909 VT 317 was the first model produced by Giuseppe Gilera. This one has engine number 25. The 317cc single made 7hp at 3,000rpm and had a top speed of 105km/h.
The sole example of a 500cc sidecar made by the factory (others were built by privateers). It won both the 1956 & 1957 Nations GP held at Monza, with 65hp at 10,500rpm.
One of the two Bimota GB1 race bikes built in 1993 using the RC750R engines (two of only nine made) from the 1992 Gilera desert racer. Indeed when Bimota first received the motors, sand from the ’92 Pharaohs Rally had to be cleaned from them!
Twin 38mm downdraught Mikunis are fitted. The frame is closely based on that of the DB2. By the 4th round of the ’93 Italian Supermono Championship the bike had been developed enough to claim victory from the works Ducati Supermono by some 20 seconds. 78hp at 8,500rpm. Weight (no fuel) 119kg.
Gilera returned to GP racing in ’92 with this 75º V-twin 2-stroke. It featured electronically controlled exhaust valves and a twin beam alloy frame. Ruggia only finished 17th in the championship with 6 points.
The 1957 175 Bicilindrica (centre) was based on the previous year’s 125 twin GP bike (left) specially for Italian Formula 2 class. 23hp at 11,200rpm offered a top speed of 170km/h.
Originally designed in 1947, the 500/4 was extremely successful – winning the 500cc World Championship six times between 1948 and 1957, before Gilera quit GP racing. However the factory resumed competition in 1963 (until ’66) with much the same machines, but now fitted with full failings instead of the banned dustbin type. 70hp at 10,500rpm. Top speed 250kph.
Gilera’s 500cc single, the Saturno, was employed in many bikes. The first pic shows a 1950 Saturno Sanremo. The second a 1952 Saturno Cross (left) and a 1952 Saturno Piuma (right).
The 1944 Marte used the company’s last 500cc side-valve engine. Originally designed for military use it entered production in 1942 and featured a shaft drive. A civilian version (seen here) followed in 1944. 222 of these were constructed from spare parts and 158 from converted military bikes. 14hp at 4,800rpm. Top speed 78kph.
To finish here is a photo that shows a different side of Piaggio’s output. The company designed and built both aircraft (from 1915) and aero engines. The engines ranged from 370hp to 1500hp. This 1936 P.XI RC40 was an air-cooled, 14 cylinder radial that had an output of 1000hp at 4,000m and was fitted to many Italian aircraft.