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 Gilera - 500 Saturno cross
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Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 500
Model : Saturno cross
Production : 1956 -
Category : (Off-Road) MX


500 Saturno Cross - 1956

The comeback kid

Derived from the VT models of the 1930s, the Saturno was first seen in 1940. Up to the end of production in 1956-57, it was one of the most renowned of all Italian competition big singles. Though the speed versions recorded their last success in 1952, the Saturno made a dramatic come back as a motocross mount.

A Future Stuntman

The first venture by the Saturno into motocross in 1948 was made by a privateer who did away with the rear suspension. The same year, modified touring 500 Saturnos competed in the International Six Days' Trial at San Remo. But the first real transformation of the speed Saturno into a motocross machine occurred in 1951, when the French specialist Melioli modified both the frame and the gearbox. That inspired the factory to build its first motocross machine, which won the Italian title from 1953-56 and the French championship in 1954-55.

Small Change

The motocross Saturno was produced from 1952-56 and was little changed from the speed model – same power, same compression ratio, same carburetor. Only the gear ratios were changed so that the best use could be made of the big single's torque. Gilera officially retired from competition in 1957 but was still represented in enduro by modified touring two-strokes and then, after 1968, by dedicated enduro models. The marque only returned to motocross in 1976, in the 125cc category.


Engine: 499cc (84x90mm) air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke; light-alloy cylinder and head

Power Rating: 38 hp @ 6000 rpm

Valves: overhead

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 4-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: telescopic forks (front); swinging fork with twin spring/dampers (rear)

Brakes: full-width drum (front & rear)

Wheels: 3.00x21 inch (front); 4.00x18 inch (rear)

Weight: 276 lb

Maximum Speed: approx. 120 mph

The Gilera Saturno was the only motocross four-stroke single ever catalogued by this great Italian marque.

Le fichier Moto Passion réalisé par François-Marie Dumas réunit près de deux mille photos accompagnées d'un historique très complet des machines présentées.
Il sera progressivement mis à jour ici et toute information complémentaire est la bienvenue sur info@moto-collection.org.

Cette documentation unique, qui constitue sans doute l'encyclopédie la plus exhaustive jamais écrite sur l'histoire de la moto, a été réalisée avec l'assistance de nombreux spécialistes dont principalement Didier Ganneau, Christophe Gaime, Mick Woollett, Jean Goyard, Bernard Salvat, Christian Rey, Yves Campion, Helmut Krackowizer, Michael Dregni, Michel Montange, etc. que je remercie ici.

Disponible sur demande :
- Les fiches originales sur papier
- Les photos et archives signées de mon nom en haute définition ou les documents originaux.
Me contacter sur info@moto-collection.org pour les conditions et droits d'utilisation.