Retro: Gilera CX125

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We were reminded of the Gilera CX125 by the Filippo Barbacane Guzzi, which adopts its single-sided front end. Released in 1991, it was designed by Federico Martini, who was also responsible for the Bimota DB1. Like that bike it features all-encompassing plastics, but we actually find the exaggerated front fairing more reminiscent of the Osmos Rolling Bird. It’s defining feature, however, was the right side view created by the illusion of floating, near-solid wheels.
Other than the funny suspension, the CX125 was utterly conventional.
Loosely based on the Gilera Crono race-replica, the CX125 used a
detuned version of its 125cc two-stroke developing slightly more than
30bhp and redlining at 12,000rpm. Like the Crono, the CX125 used a
steel frame rather than the aluminum item employed by rivals like the
Cagiva Mito and Aprilia RS125. Still, it weighed in at a svelte 120kg
(264lbs), meaning it was able to reach an impressive claimed top speed
of 120mph.

The single-sided front end is similar to the BMW Telelever system in
that it employs a swingarm, shock and forks, well, a single-sided fork.
Check out the top yoke and its single, huge fork cap. Steering is
accomplished by a series of connecting rods connected to the bottom
yoke. The 17″ wheel is dished so that the single caliper can sit on the
bike’s center line, which is apparently critical to the suspension
system’s operation, but not in a way we’re able to comprehend.

At the time, Gilera claimed such advantages for the front end as
increased rigidity, reduced weight and improved aerodynamics although,
bizarrely, it didn’t claim any anti-dive properties as on Telelever
suspension. In practice, however, the CX had only 100mm of fork travel
to the Crono’s 130mm; testers reported it felt a bit “stiff.” Sadly the
CX front suspension lacked any adjustment. It’s likely this low-spec
nature was what enabled Gilera to sell it for only a very slight
premium over the Crono, which was fully adjustable.

Gilera had big plans for the suspension setup,  including several
larger capacity models, but those plans seemed to disappear during
Piaggio Group’s doldrums during the early- to mid-’90s. Piaggio, which
has owned Gilera since 1969, now sells a range of scooters under the

via Inside Bikes

  • Deltablues

    Honda must have been watching cause the Blackbird that was released a few year later has very similar bodywork…coincidence?

  • Ceolwulf

    The Blackbird was for sure the first thing I thought of as well when I saw that profile.

  • johnny

    Ridiculously over engineered for a 125,and I love it for that.

  • Tanshanomi

    Remember that at the time of the CX’s introduction, single-sided rear swingarms were still wildly cutting-edge, reserved for such ultra-exotics as the NR750, RC45, and 916. Having one show up on a lowly 125 would have been notable enough; the wild front fork was out-and-out audacious. While the CX may not have been a functional breakthrough, you have to give it major props for chutzpah, notoriety and “being of one’s time.” It captured the late-80s/early ’90s zeitgeist perfectly…and turned it up to 11.

  • Larry Friedman

    Maybe having the front caliper off-center increased stiction on the front “fork”.

  • Ben Part

    ‘The single-sided front end is similar to the BMW Telelever system.’

    Norman Hossack front-end don’t you mean?
    BMW blatantly ripped him off.

    • Wes Siler

      Nah, Hossack = Duolever if I understand things correctly.Duolever is what’s used on the K1300S and R, Telelever is what’s used on the R1200GS and the other parallel twins. Don’t quote me on that though.

      • coho

        You’re right on which levers go with which bikes, but this looks a lot more Duolever-y to me with those articulated doodads between the fender and the bottom triple…er…mono-clamp? Uniclamp?…anybody?
        The Telelever is the ungainly looking one with the big A-arm that pivots off the engine itself.

        Not trying to be a know-it-all, just helping.

        • coho

          PS. Hossack does equal Duolever.

        • Wes Siler

          Oh, don’t worry about it, I appreciate the help. Funny front ends kind of boggle my mind.

  • area_educator

    Yes, Duolever (new K series) = Hossack. The telelever (oilhead R bikes, old K series) is its own thing.

    While I agree this looks more Duolever than Telelever, I’m pretty sure it’s more conventional slider than either.

    Looking at pic number 3, it appears there’s a conventional slider– more like the Cannondale Headshock or the Motoczysz front end. The links, I think, are merely there to provide torsional rigidity. The Cannondale Headshock does this with an octagonal slider. The Cannondale Lefty (also one sided, but the slider is on the fork blade), I believe, uses a square section slider.

    If that’s the case, it would have no more antidive characteristics than a completely conventional fork (where the geometry encourages dive). These designs do tend to suffer less stiction and offer more rigidity for a given weight.