Gilera's Chinese-backed return set to feature a 1000cc twin

Gilera is set to return with a new bike derived from old Aprilia models thanks to a 987cc motor in its RA 9 concept. 

Zongshen Cyclone RA9

ZONGSHEN-PIAGGIO is reportedly planning the return of the Gilera brand, and there are now some new details. 

Back in the end of March, we reported on a 900cc bike using the engine from Aprilia’s old Shiver and Dorsoduro 900s, but with the logo of Gilera on the cover. 

Motorrad now reports that a new Gilera will be based on the RA 9 concept from Cyclone. When the RA 9 appeared at the 2021 China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition (CIMTE), it featured an engine similar to that of the old Dorsoduro and Shiver models from Aprilia. 

When that engine powered the bikes of the Noale brand, it was 896cc, but now Motorrad reports that the Gilera-Cyclone RA 9 will feature a larger-displacement version of that engine, with 987cc. It will produce 112 horsepower at 9,500rpm, and 98Nm at 7,500rpm. Housing the engine will be a lattice frame straight from Noale, with a single swingarm, double front discs from J.Juan, and with some adjustability in the forks.

Motorrad speculates that the production version of the RA 9 will be built with the Gilera name in China, and possibly exported in a completely knocked-down state for assembly in other markets, namely Europe. 

However, as Motorrad points out, the Gilera brand can be a limiting factor for the RA 9 and its potential variants. Italian bikes are generally built for performance, and feature sports aspects from the visuals to the ergonomics, or on the other hand they go down the enduro route: let us not forget that it is Benelli’s TRK502 that has been the best-selling bike in Italy for a while now, including in April. Perhaps on the other side of that is that the characteristics of the Italian motorcycles gives an indication as to what the RA 9, under the name of Gilera, would be. 

To make an enduro would certainly be dissociation from the concept shown at the CIMTE, but looking at the success of the Benelli under Qianjiang perhaps Zongshen could decide to compete with their compatriots in the off-road world. 

Alternatively, taking the frame from Aprilia, as well as the engine, could indicate something more road-oriented. On both the naked and sports sides, a 1000cc twin would fit in somewhat nicely between the Noale brand’s own Tuono and RS models, where Aprilia has 660 twins and 1100 fours.