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Remembering the 1950 Gilera Saturno San Remo

1950 Gilera Saturno San Remo

Most motorcycles made between the 1940s and 1950s did not last as long as the 1950 Gilera Saturno San Remo model. The bike was used between 1940 and 1957. It was made specifically for racing by Gilera, an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Initially, early motorcycles could only run for short distances. However, Gilera figured out how to make it run longer distances by modifying its cylinder. Due to the changes, the motorcycle won five consecutive races at San Remo. Later on, it was customized further to give better performances while racing. What made this motorcycle outlast other early motorcycles? We will know that based on the features of this motorbike we will discuss below.

Chain Final Drive Transmission

Chain drive is a transmission system that conveys power to the motorcycles' wheels. The roller chain is responsible for transmitting the power to the wheels. To generate power, the roller chain passes over a sprocket gear which is connected to the gearbox. When the sprocket gear is turned by the chain, it generates mechanical force in the system. Compared to other transmission drives like the shaft drive and belt drive, chain drive is the most efficient transmission system. For instance, it requires minimum power to accelerate this motorbike. Moreover, apart from powerful acceleration, it is lightweight hence making the motorcycle light. Due to its lightness, you can use this motorcycle on hilly terrains.

Engine Type

The motorcycle uses one cylinder; therefore, it relies on one piston for the combustion process. Even though its engine is small, it has very high horsepower. The high power is due to the power to weight ratio. Since the motorbike is smaller and lighter than a car, it is easy for the engine to power it more quickly. Since the motorbike uses only one cylinder, repair and maintenance costs are low. For instance, if you were experiencing problems with this engine, you would only replace one cylinder. The same cannot be said for cars that usually use more than one cylinder to run. If a car broke down, you would either replace two or three cylinders, depending on the type of engine your car uses.

Engine Cooling System

A lot of heat is produced in the engine during the combustion process. Unfortunately, too much heat can destroy the engine, so it explains why this motorbike relies on air to cool the engine. The motorbike has fins that trap air and then direct it towards the engine. Besides trapping air, the fins are also good for aesthetics. The beauty of this cooling system is that it requires no special devices to trap air. Otherwise, the repair costs would be high for such devices. Also, the repair and maintenance costs are low since you would only need to procure the fins. Another significant advantage of this cooling system over liquid cooling is that air heats faster than water. In liquid cooling, if the liquid fails to heat up, it may freeze the engine and make it stop working. With air, you will not have to worry about liquid leakage into the engine.

Wheel Type

This motorcycle uses spoked wheels. Since the 1930s, spoked wheels have been used, and they still hold up to this day. Most motorcyclists like the spokes for their aesthetic appeal. For instance, the rods are arranged such that they form orderly lines. Besides the aesthetics, spoked wheels make this motorcycle suitable for any terrain. For instance, you may encounter rocks when you ride along a hilly path. If your wheels hit a rock, the rods will bend without snapping. As a result, the wheels have a good flex. Sometimes, the terrain may be so rough that your rods break after hitting an object. Luckily, repairing its wheels is not very costly. The only part you will replace is the affected rods. So, if one rod was broken, you can buy a new one and fit it with the rest of the rods without affecting the wheel.

Brake Type

The brake type used for this motorcycle is the drum brake. A drum brake contains brake linings. When the motorcyclist steps on the brake, the force is applied to the brake linings, which then uses friction to slow down the motorcycle. In general, drum brakes have a higher braking force than disc brakes. For instance, they have a self-braking system. The system predicts when the motorcycle is likely to hit an object, and it instantly activates the braking process. That means when you apply less force on the brake pedal, you will stop with ease. For instance, during braking, the film gets stretched. This is because the wheel rotates and twists the drum brake at a certain angle as the film stretches. The more the film stretches, the greater the braking force. Besides having effective braking power, they are easy to manufacture. As a result, the repair and maintenance costs are cheap since there are few parts to replace. The chances of replacing the brakes are few since they generally last long. This is because they generate just enough friction to stop the bike. Too much friction would generate too much heat, and that would cause the bike to burn. Also, excess friction would cause the brake parts to wear out. Their durability is due to the increased friction contact area. The brake must be close to the ground for friction to occur since objects must be in contact.


The 1950 Gilera Saturno San Remo bike is proof that the manufacturers were ahead of their time. For motorcycle racing, they knew exactly how to customize their bike parts to run. For instance, its cylinder and chain drive system make it adapt to speeds. If you are not fond of speeding, the manufacturers have got you covered. We have seen how its drum brake stops the motorcycle when lightly pressed. Most people think acceleration is important in racing, but an excellent braking system is also necessary. After all, you can hit a lot of objects during a race. These features are why this motorcycle outlasted the other motorcycles in the 1940s to 1950s.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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