Italian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Galbai Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Italian Marque

Officine Meccaniche Galbai (GALBAI) of Tradate began motorcycle production in 1920 with a single-cylinder two-stroke of 276cc (70 mm bore x 72 mm stroke), followed almost immediately with a 301cc (bore 71 mm x stroke 76 mm) which in 1924 was increased to 350cc.

The engine was a two-stroke using a lubrication mixture of 7%.

Carburettors could be Amac or BB, with the magneto rotating at engine speed giving two sparks per revolution.

Bosch electrics to power the lighting system.

The transmission was a chain with a cork-plate dry clutch operated by foot pedal. Two-speed gearbox with manual lever on the right.

Single cradle frame in closed tubes, with girder forks and side spring coil. Wheels with rubber heel and hubs disassembly Quick, one rear drum brake.

Galbai then constructed machines using MAG 500cc V-twin engines, and with oil-cooled 350cc Bradshaw powerplants.



British Engine Builder
Fitted to numerous British and European motorcycles.
Bradshaw Engines


The Varese brand disappeared around 1930 after producing about seventy machines, or, according to another source, fifty. Currently three Galbai motorcycles are known to exist.

The brand also has a distinct local sporting history as it is recorded that Giuseppe Galbai entered the first circuit of the lake May 29, 1921, in the 1/3 litro class. There are many other such records for 1922, 1923...

A Galbai in the Tour of Italy in 1923 with the number 3 ... and finished fourth in the 350 class.

In 1926 Giuseppe Galbai participated in the fifth edition of the Circuito d'Italia, finishing in eighth place on a Galbai fitted with an OHV oil-cooled Bradshaw.

Giuseppe Galbai's affair with two wheels began with the bicycle. He gained tenth place (of 101 competitors) at the second Tour of Italy cycling race of 1910 and 71st of 355 participants in the fifth Giro di Lombardia in 1909. He turned to motorcycle racing in 1911 and rode an NSU in the first Italian 500cc championship.

In the Sesto San Giovanni - Lecco - Colico - Sondrio - Aprica Pass - Edolo - Lovere - Bergamo - Crescenzago of 314 km Carlo Pusterla won on a Triumph with an average 43.510 kph, followed by Giuseppe Galbai on the NSU at the average of 41.135 km/h, with third taken by Mario Acerboni on Frera.

Giuseppe Galbai invented, but he could not patent, a device which coupled the bicycle pedals to the ignition.

After the war, Giuseppe Galbai moved with his family to Milan where, with his sons Antonio and Pinuccia, he opened a workshop on the Corso Garibaldi 95, repairing bicycles and motorcycles. The workshop closed in the early 60's probably because Giuseppe had become almost blind. He died a few years later.

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Sources: Moto di Lombardia, Henshaw*, Tragatsch p141
* Henshaw refers to the marque as both Galbai and La Galbai.

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