Zongshen-Piaggio to Revive Gilera With GLR900
Design filings registered in China
Italian marque Gilera is poised to return as a joint-venture between the brand’s owner, Piaggio, and its long-standing Chinese partner, Zongshen. We’ve uncovered evidence of Gilera’s imminent return via design filings registered in China for a rebadged version of the Aprilia Shiver labeled with the name “GLR900”.
Gilera was founded in 1909 in Arcore, Italy, and has a long history in Grand Prix racing, with several world titles in the 500cc class with racers Umberto Masetti and Geoff Duke in the 1950s. By 1957, Gilera shifted its focus to off-road motorcycles, which did not prove to be financially successful, resulting in Piaggio acquiring the brand in 1969.
The original factory in Arcore closed in 1993, a year after Piaggio returned Gilera to GP racing. Gilera found more racing success in the modern era, with Manuel Poggiali winning a championship in the 125cc class in 2001, and the late Marco Simoncelli taking the 250cc title in 2008.
Meanwhile, Gilera mainly produced scooters, though it also produced a couple of 50cc two-stroke motorcycles in the RCR and SMT (pictured above). With strict Euro 5 regulations taking effect in 2021, Gilera quietly faded into the background. Until now, at least, with the design filing for the GLR900, which is obviously a reference to the storied brand.
The design was filed by Zongshen Piaggio Foshan Motorcycle Co. Ltd., the joint venture formed by the two companies in 2004. The design filing does not provide any technical details, including whether the 90-degree V-Twin engine remains the same 896cc displacement as the Shiver. The filing is only concerned with how it looks, and comparing the GLR900 design with filings the JV also filed for the Shiver 900, it’s quite apparent how similar the two models are.
The headlight, radiator shroud, and the addition of a flyscreen are the significant changes, but the two models look essentially the same. Assuming no changes to the chassis, we suspect the GLR900 will be equipped with the same steel-trellis front frame, a preload and rebound adjustable 41mm inverted fork with dual radial-mount calipers, and a preload adjustable rear shock..
The new headlight has a wide goggle shape instead of the Shiver’s shield-shaped light. The new side shrouds lack the forward-facing air intakes found on the Shiver, but it does gain venting holes behind the radiator. The windscreen should offer some added wind protection the Shiver lacked. Beyond that, the ergonomics remain unchanged, and the GLR900 still has the dual undertail exhausts that have fallen out of style over the last decade.
What remains to be seen from the new Gilera GLR900 is whether it will be sold exclusively in China and other Asian markets, or whether it will be imported to other countries. The lack of a presence at EICMA this month suggests that a European launch is not imminent, but a Chinese launch may happen soon.
Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.
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