The history of this 500 Saturno begun in Japan. In 1987, the multinational C. Itoh and Co. Ltd, a trading company engaged in the production and marketing of all kinds of products, commissioned Gilera to propose an essential sports bike with a classic flavor for the Japanese market. Baptized Saturno and developed in 1987 by Sandro Colombo; shipment to Japan started in April 1988. Regretfully, C. Itoh got it wrong and the near 1,000 units produced didn’t sell through fast enough. 150 are reported to have sold in Italy, only 50 in the UK. Gilera eventually ended up offering the bikes in more countries, but none were officially sold in the US.

In the early-80s Gilera had developed a four-stroke water-cooled single that they used for their off-roader Dakota in 350cc and 500cc capacities. The Bi4 engine was advanced and featured dual overhead cams (bialbero) with a quoted 43hp and a five-speed transmission. The state-of-the-art Bi4 engine complete with Siamese exhaust was thrown into a trellis frame and paired with Marzocchi suspension, Brembo brakes, and Marvic wheels. 45 horsepower was plenty for a bike that weighed less than 320lb, yielding a quoted top speed of 115 miles per hour with half fairing. A handsome motorcycle indeed and one that could outrun almost anything on a twisty road.
This rare ‘Isle of Man TT’ celebration model – ‘GBM’ – came from Japan

Gilera Nuovo Saturno Bialbero 500 Specifications

  • Engine – Liquid cooled single cylinder four stroke DOHC
  • Capacity – 492cc
  • Bore/stroke – 92 x 74mm
  • Power – 45bhp @ 7000rpm
  • Torque – 31ft-lb @ 6000rpm
  • Carburetion – 40mm Dell’Orto
  • Transmission – 5-speed, wet clutch, chain final drive
  • Suspension – 40mm Marzocchi telescopic forks. Marzocchi single shock rear
  • Brakes – 300mm disc 4-piston Brembo caliper. 240mm disc 2-piston Brembo caliper
  • Wheels – 110/70 17, 140/70 x 17
  • Weight – 137kgs
  • Top speed – 111mph
  • Wheelbase – 1410mm
  • Fuel capacity – 20ltrs

This bike is the only known one in South Africa.

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