Gas Gas Halley
Historically the arrival of a comet in the night sky was thought to mark a great event. It did, thanks to the development of the ‘Halley’, the first production model of a prestigious line with which the small Gas Gas Company entered into trials history. In the year 1705 the English astronomer and mathematician Edmund Halley was using the universal gravitational theory developed by Newton (of which many trials riders have fully tested the viability of gravitational attraction) to predict the regular passage of a comet observed every 76 years. In January 1986, after a cycle which took in many millions of miles of interstellar travel, the Halley’s Comet came back into its closest terrestrial orbit. At the same time, in the Catalan region of Spain, two friends observed this fascinating spectacle. They had almost finished a special project of their own to which they decided to give the name of ‘Halley’. Article: Gilles Escuyer and John Hulme Pictures: Pascal Deliege, Yoomee Archive, Snr, Eric Kitchen and Toon van de Vliet
As far back as they can remember Narcis Casas and Josep Maria Pibernat were passionate about motorcycle sport. As young kids they hung around the garage of Dani Maten, which was located in the village of Salt near to Gerona in Catalonia.
Dani who was an electrician by trade loved to pass his spare time fettling motorcycles. He taught the pair the basics of motorcycle mechanics and gave them a taste for competition, and a long and enduring friendship was born.
The two youths started out riding in Enduro. Narcis Casas became a talented factory rider for Bultaco and won multiple titles for the team. In 1974 it was this loyalty to the Bultaco factory that pushed the two friends to rent space used by Dani Marten to open their own motorcycle shop. The chosen name was almost a joke and paid homage to spectators who used to shout out “gas…gas…” to encourage a more wide-open throttle style of riding! The notoriety of Casas helped business and it rapidly became profitable.
They created their own company called Remoto to commercialise well-known aftermarket brands such as Ariete, Polini, Win and Domino, etc., throughout Europe.
For the next few years they were loyal to Bultaco and were exclusive dealers of the marque but in Spain during the late seventies there was an industrial crisis which finally ended the production of motorcycles. In 1979 during the death knells of the factory they turned towards another brand, SWM, which was being built in Italy.
They became Spanish importers and used the Remoto dealer network, which was already well established, to distribute the machines. Within the next five years SWM themselves were also in great difficulties and Casas and Pibernat received an offer to buy out the Italian factory, but they declined. However this approach was the germ of an idea to avoid the difficulties of supply in future – why not create their own brand?
In 1984 the talented engineer Josep Paxau came to the end of his contract with Merlin, and he was recruited. He had the task to develop from scratch a trials machine, starting out with an engine supplied by Villa which was used in the 125cc Cagiva and TM motocross machines.
He completely revised the topend of the engine and was largely inspired by a… Bultaco! The majority of the other components came from Italy, where production was prolific.
Marzocchi front forks were fitted and a single rear suspension unit from Corte Cosso, levers and grips from Domino, chain and sprockets from Chiravalli, front disc by Grimeca, carburettor Dell’Orto and plastics from Acerbis.
The rest of the components were principally Spanish in origin. The ignition system came from Motoplat, the rear brake from Najesty and the exhaust system from Paxau Competition. The single-tubed frame with twin down-tubes was reinforced by a sturdy bash plate and made by Paxau, who was inspired by the Yamaha TY-R and SWM Jumbo design, from which he took the idea of the flat steel footrest plates as well as the use of high quality Columbus tubing.
The first prototype was ready for the Barcelona Motorcycle Show of 1985. It strongly resembled the SWM Jumbo but was painted white and blue, and along with the Villa engine an aluminium swinging arm was fitted to the monoshock. In reality it was just a method of drawing attention to the new marque as already other modified pre-production machines had been made which more closely resembled those of the future Halley.
A very few were fitted with drum brakes at the front and rear, which were very quickly replaced by a Grimeca disc front brake system. It was only on the 1987 models that a rear disc brake took its place and that was the principal evolution. A small series of 200 units was made, starting production at the beginning of 1986.
The first prototype was presented at
the 1985 Barcelona Show in Spain.
First seen on the SWM, the flat plate housed the footrest mounting, retaining the Bultaco footrests. A drum rear brake system would be replaced with a single disc and calliper on the later models.