Gilera - Saturno cross
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Gilera D2-492-21-02
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.

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)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

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François-Marie Dumas

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