Saturday, 12 February 2011

Project bike

Oh no - that most dreaded of things: a project. Beloved of mothers-in-law and magazine editors (um...but not this one), projects nag away like clingy mistresses until they're over (one way or another)

This one shouldn't need much work (famous last words) because it's been sat in a private collection until the recent hard times meant it came to market with the intriguing claim that it had been built with a Hemi (Sferica - ie hemispherical) head for the Milano Taranto. Surely BS, given that Gilera focused on the 500 class in the Milano Taranto and that only a handful of Sfericas were ever made. But the bike came via the highly trusted John Fallon so I dug a bit deeper.

First investigation was the engine number - hmmm, this included the stamping Gilera put on their Motogiro bikes, and the Gilera register confirmed the number went on a 175V (the V suffix was for the racers) supplied to a Rimini dealer in 1956 - the Giro went right through Rimini in '56, with a Bologna start/finish.

But engine numbers can be faked, and the only Sferica I could track down (with the help of Jim Dillard at Vintagemotos Museum no longer had it's hemi-head. Time to have a closer look...

The bike was on mainland Europe but John took a deep breath and shipped it over. Ace mechanic Neil Ridgewellf lifted the head, and there it was - a hemispherical head with vales set at right angles, just like the Gilera 500/4 racer. The standard 175 Sport had parallel valves and a flat head - and no dry clutch. The engine had clearly been run, so it's no fake: and for less money than a Ducati 175 it was mine. What? Does it run? Er, not yet