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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?

Euro Ma­chine

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.

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