Cagiva is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. It was founded in 1950 by Giovanni Castiglioni in Varese, originally producing small metal components. Giovanni’s sons, Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni went into the motorcycle industry in 1978. The name is a portmanteau derived from the founder’s name ‘Giovanni Castiglioni’ and the founding location, i.e. CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese.
In its history, Cagiva won races in Dakar and Motocross competitions, as well as in Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
In 1978 Cagiva entered the motorcycle business with two racing motorcycles ridden by Gianfranco Bonera and Marco Lucchinelli. In the same year it bought a factory in Varese’s frazione of Schiranna from Aermacchi/AMF-Harley-Davidson and went into motorcycle production. By 1979 the company reached an annual production of 40,000 motorbikes, with eight models powered by two-stroke engines ranging from 125 cc to 350 cc.
Many of the Harley-Davidson models were continued in production as Cagivas, and the off-road motorcycle division was improved and expanded, eventually producing its own race-winning WMX series of moto-cross motorcycles.
In 1983 Cagiva also sourced Ducati four stroke v-twin engines from 350 cc to 1000 cc and entered the big displacement market. Cagiva bought Ducati in 1985, but kept the Ducati brand that was better recognized outside Italy. Ducati motorcycle production continued in Bologna, while the Varese-built Cagiva Ala Azzurra (sold under the name “Alazzurra”, “Bluewing”) and Elefant were introduced, both featuring Ducati engines.
Cagiva continued with strategic buyouts of Moto Morini in 1985 and Husqvarna in 1987. In 1991 Cagiva also bought the trademarks for the MV Agusta brand.
In 1996, Cagiva accepted the offer by the Texas Pacific Group and sold the Ducati and Moto Morini brands. In 1999, for strategic purposes, the company was restructured. MV Agusta Motor become the main brand comprising Cagiva and Husqvarna.
In 2000, production of the Cagiva roadster ended. In 2008, Harley-Davidson bought MV Agusta Motor, the parent company of Cagiva, thereby regaining some control of its old Aermacchi factory.
In October 2009, Harley-Davidson informed that it would put Cagiva up for sale. In the August of the following year, Cagiva was bought back by the son of the founder and former owner Claudio Castiglioni.
In 2012, production of new high engine capacity Mitos ended. Increasingly stringent environmental emission requirements and the concentration of resources on MV Agusta’s F3 were cited as reasons. The last few Mito SP525s produced were white in colour, and personally signed by MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni, thus ended the legacy of the Mito, alongside the end of the Raptors.
Last Cagiva-branded bikes were Raptor and Mito 125cc. The Cagiva brand is no longer active, the production being focused on MV Agusta.