In the 125cc sector it is no secret that the Italians are masters. Of course you have the Yamaha TZR and Honda NSR, but even they struggle to compete with the Italian mastery of the Cagiva 125, the stunning Aprilia AF1 and the Gilera Crono 125.
Gilera is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in Italy. It was founded in Arcore in 1909 by Giuseppe Gilera and in 1969 it was purchased by Piaggio, who continue to own the brand today.
Having had much Grand Prix racing success following World War II, Gilera bowed out of the race circuits until 1992 when they re-entered the world of racing.
During the modern era Gilera’s name has been splashed across some really cool scooters but in the early 90’s they were producing some of the best 125cc race replicas the world has seen.
In 1990 the SP02 followed the successful SP01 and it could do the standing quarter mile in 14.9 seconds. You may scoff, but for a 125 even by modern standards that’s not bad at all given the Yam R3’s (with a 300cc engine) time is 14.1 seconds.
For 1991 Gilera updated their race rep 125 with the all new Crono 125. While it only had one years production life (replaced by the GFR in 1993), it has achieved cult status from those in the know.
So let’s take a look.
Gilera Crono 125 Review
At the heart of the Gilera Crono was a 124cc, single cylinder powerhouse paired with a Six-speed manual transmission with a chain final drive. It was capable of 30 horsepower and 18Nm of torque when derestricted.
A staggering amount of power when compared to the 2021’s Yamaha R1 with 14 horsepower and 11.5Nm of torque.
The Gilera 125’s are craved by new riders for this reason in the UK, they offer some of the best and most powerful motorcycles in the class.
For new young riders nothing is more fun than that extra burst of power when riding with your mates on Japanese equivalent sportsbikes.
The engine was a completely new design when introduced in the RV125 in 1984, it was shared among Gilera’s various 125 models from then on.
While it shared reed-valve induction and a six-speed gearbox similar to the Japanese bikes, the Gilera package featured a counter-rotating balance shaft, CDI electronic ignition and an electric starter.
When compared with other two-strokes of the time the Gilera engine was known to be particularly smooth and offer a much more comfortable, easier ride than anything else on the market.
The Automatic Power Tuning System (exhaust valve), boosted the midrange performance, so what buyers got was a really well-rounded and capable 125cc, something that you don’t really get to say much even today.
It wasn’t just the engine that would appeal to riders but rather the entire package of the Crono, you could easily be forgiven for thinking it was a 250cc or 400cc machine from its size and design.
The Crono was very aerodynamic and styled after the Class 500 GP bikes, with a big boxy tank, saddle cradled into the bodywork, and a huge swingarm and seat cowl that matured the motorcycle beyond its actual capacity.
You would not look at a Gilera Crono and think that it was a 125 learner bike, it looks far more high tech and hand-crafted to be designated that title.
A massive steel twin-spar beam design provides the foundation that the bodywork hangs on and was often mistaken by reviewers thinking it was aluminium.
Inverted Marzocci forks (40mm) even graced the front end, a luxury setup usually reserved for high end, bigger sports machines.
No detail on the Crono was overlooked from the die-cast aluminium wheels to the solo seat with lumbar support.
The full fairing with the windscreen and square headlight is a timeless design, one that won’t look out of place even in another 10 years.
Gilera used the foundation of the Crono for arguably the craziest design of all 125 sportsbikes, the CX125.
This came shortly after the Crono was released and was sold in dealers during the same time period.
It was a crazy rocketship, spaceage, futuristic hunk of metal that had press and public scratching their heads figuring out exactly what it was.
One year and just 1,000 units later both the Crono and CX were discontinued.
Overall the Gilera Crono was a well-handling, powerful two-stroke race styled 125cc motorcycle that had new riders hearts racing.
The Crono could outperform most of the four-stroke 125’s on the market today, and it is certainly a good-looking exotic Italian for those that want to stand out.
Gilera Crono 125 Specifications
Engine and Transmission
- Engine – Two-Stroke, Single Cylinder, Power Valve
- Capacity – 124cc
- Bore x Stroke – 56 x 50.5mm
- Cooling System – Liquid Cooled
- Compression Ratio – 12.5:1
- Induction – 32mm Dell’Orto Carb
- Ignition – CDI
- Starting – Electric
- Max Power – 29.3 horsepower at 9,900rpm
- Max Torque – 18Nm at 10,250rpm
- Transmission – 6 Speed
- Final Drive – Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame – Twinbox Tubular Steel
- Front Suspension – 40mm Telescopic Upside Down Forks
- Rear Suspension – Vertical Single Shock
- Front Brakes – Single 300mm Disc, 2 Piston Caliper
- Rear Brakes – Single 240mm Disc, 2 Piston Caliper
- Dry Weight – 118kg
- Fuel Capacity – 13 litres
Gilera Crono 125 Top Speed
The estimated top speed of the Gilera Crono 125 is thought to be around 105mph
How Much is a Crono 125 Worth?
Finding a Gilera Crono 125 today is a task not for the fainthearted, they just simply aren’t around.
I managed to find one current advert for a Crono in Germany with an asking price of £2,840.
£3,000/$4,000 would be about right for one and you are best looking towards auction sites in Europe, but be prepared for a wait until one comes up.
There seems to be more parts available than actual bikes.
The CX125 tends to reach higher prices of £5,000/$6,000 and upwards and again they are difficult to find especially as they were sold in even fewer numbers.
Overall the Gilera Crono 125 sits in a great crowd of pretty special two-stroke single cylinder 125cc motorcycles.
Gilera didn’t produce a 125 to fill a gap in their line-up, they catered to the market and produced a motorcycle that was outstanding, so that even new riders could feel amazing about their first set of two wheels.
Forget about my first set of wheels, I’d add a Crono to my collection now, imagine the fun that could be had with that little two-stroke producing crazy power for what it was.