You don’t hear much about Gilera these days, but there was a time in the 1950s when they dominated GP racing winning six titles in eight years and also tasted success at the Isle of Man TT with the legendary Geoff Duke aboard. Their last major racing success came when the late great Marco Simoncelli won the 250cc World Championship in 2008, but now owned by the giant Piaggio group they largely focus on the European scooter market. It wasn’t always that way for their road going offerings, in the heyday of the Italian single cylinder one of the bikes to own was a Gilera four stroke. Having tasted so much racing success in the ’50s the company took their technology to the road in an effort to boost struggling sales and it was the character filled singles, particularly the Gilera Giubileo range that would give consumers an alternative to the plain functionality or clunky 2 strokes that made up the bulk of the world’s offerings.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Moto Guzzi is one of Continental Europe’s classic brands and even more so when you think of Café Racers, making it one of the perfect manufacturers to choose when deciding what bike to base a custom build. But then you go and pick one of their heaviest bikes, all covered in plastic, weighing a gargantuan 500lbs and with an enormously long wheelbase. It seems you like a challenge, one that the boys of Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche in Rome were more than up for!
What a classic Italian racer. While a 3-cylinder engine was not exactly a novelty (others had experimented with this configuration) it was undoubtedly the first to achieve such brilliant performance. A full 92 HP at 13,500 RPM, lightness and excellent handling made this 500 the most successful of the MV stable. Following its 1966 debut, it won 7 consecutive world championships from 1967 to 1973 with G. Agostini. That was no easy feat. Wouldn’t you love to ride this machine on a race track?
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