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Gilera to Relaunch in Chinese Joint Venture

Gilera, one of the oldest names in motorcycling, is likely to make a comeback soon, though the new bikes will be built in China, not Italy. Piaggio, which owns the Gilera name (along with a whole house-full of other classic brands such as Laverda) has a joint venture with Chinese giant Zongshen, which will be building the new bikes.

Actually, they won’t be new at all, but slightly reworked versions of the Aprilia Shiver V-twin, which ended production in 2021 when it could not meet Euro 5 emissions regulations. The following year, Zongshen, under its own sub-brand of Cyclone, showed its RA9 concept bike, which was clearly derived from the Shiver, complete with Aprilia’s 896cc DOHC V-twin, part-steel, part-alloy frame and aluminium swinging arm.

Two prototypes are currently under consideration. One is basically a rerun of the original Shiver, while the other is restyled with a horizontal headlight, front cowl and new bodywork panels to mask the radiator. The second is code-named GLR900, a strong hint as to its new ‘Gilera’ identity. We don’t know yet whether this Aprilia/Gilera will be sold in Europe, but if it is, the Chinese manufacturing base should make it cheaper than the Shiver ever was.

BMF Chair Jim Freeman welcomed the return of another historic brand, even if it wasn’t wholly Italian any more: “ Dare I say it, but designed in Europe and manufactured in Asia is hardly a new concept, we’re surrounded by bikes made on the same basis. If there’s one thing the Chinese are good at, like Japan before them, its manufacturing things. If they can crack the Euro 5 issue, a great value bike could be a welcome addition to the market. I wonder if they’ve got plans for Laverda?”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Piaggio