I’ve sat on this story for a few days now, trying to figure out what exactly is going on? Is Aprilia once again digging up the Gilera brand as a sportbike entry? Is this wishful thinking by an Italian designer known for “concept” sketches? Is this poor reporting by the motorcycle blogsphere? Or all of the above?
Let me start from the beginning, and in the end I’ll let you decide.
This all started with a post by Oberdan Bezzi, a well known motorcycle artist/sketcher and passionate motorcyclist. Bezzi has made a career out of drawing concept bikes, future bikes, and works of complete fiction, and this certainly wouldn’t be the first time one of his drawings has been mistaken as fact instead of fiction. While it’s sloppy journalism, I can understand where someone could fall in love with what they’ve seen on the screen and want it so bad to be a reality…that they go ahead and confuse the two. I do the same exact thing with Claudia Schiffer everynight (not 2008 Claudia Schiffer…more like 1989 Claudia Schiffer).
Gilera like most Italian boutique firms started out making high-power uber-sexy race breed motorcycles, and through the course of natural selection has become a part of the Piaggio Group. For the past few years (more like 10), Gilera has been playing little brother to Aprilia by filling in the small displacement gaps left behind by the Noale House of Motors. Of course, now with Aprilia offering 50cc-250cc sportbikes for its European market, that has kind of diluted Gilera’s market position (a topic fit for its own posting).
So where does that take us? Oh yes, this article where an Italian based news corp (and they’re not the only ones), has taken Bezzi’s original article and run with the idea that this 600cc bike is highly speculated and could be seen in early 2009. Motorcycle journalism being what it is (a highly intricate game of telephone), other news sources have latched onto the idea, changing words like “possible” to “definite”. Now you begin to see the problem.
Piaggio has yet to return our calls (my Italian is admittedly quite poor), but some deduction can help us in the matter. Known for it’s scooters more than it’s superbikes, Piaggio acquired Aprilia not too long ago. Holding now two race bread street bike brands, what is a large conglomerate to do? Identify key markets, and segment its offerings says this businessman. Aprilia’s line, until recently with the RSV4, has centered around 1000cc v-twin motors, and then single cylinder GP bikes and scooters. Aprilia does not play in the inline-4 market, nor in the “entry-level” 600cc market.
Gilera, known for its 500cc inline-4 race bikes of yore, could in theory fill this gap quite nicely. Focusing on the smaller displacement market, which is popular in the EU (not so much here in the States) Gilera could be the entry-level brand for Piaggio, having a model line-up that dovetails into Aprilia’s large twin (and perhaps soon to be all V4) offering.
So I’ll pose this question to you, dear reader? Gilera, 600cc, I4, 2009? Yes or No? Leave your comments below.