Italian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Colombo Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Italian Marque

Born in Gerenzano in 1908, Ercole Colombo served his apprenticeship with Moto Frera before establishing a workshop in Abbiate Guazzone where he and his small team created a 250 cc rotary valve engine, the advantages of which are the considerable reduction of reciprocating parts and subsequent lost energy. The machine was first presented in 1947, with a second version appearing in 1950.

The distribution system was patented and the motorcycle entered competition, achieving a top speed of 148 km/h.

The system aroused the interest of Porsche engineers in Germany but unfortunately there was no positive outcome.

The rotary valve operation system was also applied to an Ariel 250 engine.

Ercole Colombo, who for many years worked as a development engineer and test driver for Alfa Romeo, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1957.

The Colombo motorcycle is exhibited at the Museo Frera della Motocicletta di Tradate. (Via Zara, 37, 21049 Tradate VA, Italy)

Sources: Moto di Lombardia,,

Note: There is also a famous motorsport photographer by the name of Ercole Colombo, and there are several other marques using the Columbo name - see Disambiguation

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