Gilera - Rondine
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Gilera D2-492-01-17
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 500
Model : Rondine
Production : 1935 - 1939
Category : (R) Racing


500 cc Rondine Supercharged– 1937

The first of the modern four


Piero Taruffi - known as the Silver Fox - was that rare combination of skilled engineer and brilliant racing driver, on four wheels and two. In 1935 he produced an advanced four cylinder racing bike, the Gilera Rondine (Swallow), which was the inspiration for all the Italian fours that dominated Grand Prix racing from 1952. Its overall design became almost a cliché in the period from 1984 to 1990 with the Yamaha FZ 750 and 1000.

A Mighty Machine

In supercharged form, the Rondine developed 80 hp @ 9000 rpm, a hefty output for its day. Its frame was the progenitor of the modern "Deltabox" with its two wide cradles (pressed steel on early examples, then tubular), which met the steering head at 180- degree angles. The rear suspension was unique, too, with two horizontal springs beneath the engine.

Virtually Invincible

The Rondine became virtually invincible in road racing, at the expense of BMW. Dorino Serafini beat the Germans in both the Swedish and German GPs in 1939, then took the Ulster GP at a record - and unchallenged - 97.82 mph to become European Champion. In record-breaking time, Gilera also took the 500cc world title away from BMW when Taruffi, encased in a specially streamlined Rondine, achieved 170.37 mph on October 21, 1937. Six months later, he took the one- hour record, too, at 121.23 mph


• Engine: 492cc (52x58mm) water-cooled transverse four-cylinder four-stroke

• Power output: 80 hp @ 9000 rpm

• Valves: twin overhead camshafts, gear-driven

• Fuel system: Weber carburetor and Roots supercharger

• Transmission: 4-speed gearbox; chain final drive

• Suspension: (front) parallel link; (rear) pivoted fork with friction dampers

• Brakes: (front) drum; (rear) drum

• Wheels: (front) 3.00x21 in; (rear) 3.25x20 in

• Weight: 400 lb

• Maximum speed: 140 mph with normal body

Years ahead of its time, the Rondine was the first of the all-conquering transverse fours.”

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
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François-Marie Dumas

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