Cagiva is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. It was founded in 1950 by Giovanni Castiglioni in Varese, originally producing small metal components. It went into the motorcycle industry in 1978. The name is a portmanteau derived from the founder and the founding location, i.e. CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese. In 1999 for strategic purposes, the company got restructured. MV Agusta Motor became the main brand comprising Cagiva and Husqvarna. The company currently operates under the name MV Agusta Motor S.p.A..
In 1978 Cagiva entered the motorcycle business with two racing motorcycles ridden by Gianfranco Bonera and Marco Lucchinelli. In the same year they bought a factory in Schiranna, Varese from AMF-Harley Davidson and went into motorcycle production. By 1979 the company reached an annual production of 40,000 motorbikes, with eight models with 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 their 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 name that was better recognized outside Italy. Ducati motorcycle production continued in Bologna, while the Varese-built Cagiva Ala Azzurra (sold under the name "Alazzurra") and Elefant were introduced, both featuring Ducati engines.
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