Gilera Saturno Bialbero 500


Make Model

Gilera Saturno Bialbero 500


1988 - 89


Four stroke,  single cylinder, 4 valves


492 cc / 30.0 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 92 x 74 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression Ratio 9.8:1


Dell'Orto PHM 40VS


CDI with rev limiter
Starting Electric

Max Power

44 hp / 32.1 kW @ 7000 rpm

Max Torque

4.7 kgf-m @ 6000 rpm

Transmission  /  Drive

5 Speed 
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

40mm Marzocchi forks
Front Wheel Travel 120 mm / 4.7 in

Rear Suspension

Single Marzocchi shock preload adjustment.
Rear Wheel Travel 130 mm / 5.1 in

Front Brakes

Single 300mm disc 1 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single 240mm disc 1 piston caliper

Front Tyre

110/70 VR17

Rear Tyre

140/70 VR17

Dry Weight

157 kg / 346 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

21 Litres / 5.5 US gal

Consumption Average

20.3 km/lit

Braking 60 - 0 / 100 - 0

13.9 m / 38.8 m

Standing ¼ Mile  

13.9 sec / 149.4 km/h

Top Speed

177.3 km/h / 110 mph

Road Test



In fact this prototype was then flown to Japan and displayed by the Itoh organization at the 'Mega-Show' which began in Tokyo on 20 December. The Nuovo (New) Saturno project was very much the work of the two men, Gilera engineer Sandro Colombo and the Japanese technician, N Hagiwara. The general idea was to recreate the Saturno concept, but in a modern guise.


Using the 492cc Dakota engine, the Ital-Japanese pairing created a compact Café racer (it was also built with the smaller engine). Weighing in at 2961b (135kg) the Nuovo Saturno employed a one-off trellis steel-tube frame and an alloy swinging

arm with eccentric adjustment for the final drive chain. No expense had been spared in selecting the best quality components; the footrests, rear brake and gear change levers were all in aluminium, as., was the kick-starter.

The 300mm floating brake disc at the front was operated by a four-pot Brembo 'Gold-line' caliper, with a 240mm disc and dual piston caliper at the rear, while the Marvic cast alloy wheels each had three hollow spokes. Both wheels were 17in diameter with 110/70 front and 140/70 rear tyres of VR rating.

The 40mm front forks had 120mm of travel and were of conventional design. The rear end was taken care of by a single shock with 130mm travel. The shock was of the racing type with multi-adjustment. Other details of the machine included a half-fairing, clip-on handlebars, indicators, twin mirrors (fairing mounted), Japanese-style bar-end weights, a single seat and racing-style tank, a plastic chainguard and a rear hugger mudguard in the same material.

The exhaust system, finished overall in black, was a siamezed exhaust pipe exiting into a ,-single silencer. This was mounted just below the line of the seat base on the offside of the machine. In typical Café-racer fashion there were the bare minimum of fitments to the bike, typified by no centre stand, simply a side (jiffy) one. The finish of the whole machine was in Italian racing red.

As the engine literally hung in the frame it was readily accessible, unlike the majority of modern sports bikes with their total enclosure.


Although everyone believed that the Saturno was a Japan-only bike, this proved to be wrong and by the end of 1988 it went on general sale.

In the United Kingdom, Piaggio's representative at that time was the Heron Group, based in Crawley, West Sussex. Its subsidiary, Vespa UK, spent over two years deciding whether to actually import the Saturno (and other four-stroke Gileras). Then, in December 1990, a small batch of machines was imported, priced at £4,999. This, in the author's opinion, was too high a price (at that time a CBR600 Honda was less than £4,000!), but, even so, all the machines brought in were sold, leading the way to more Saturno imports and other models such as the XRT and its successors.

Source Gilera The complete story Mick Walker