Friday, July 24, 2009
Yesterday was all about an unique design from the past. Today it's about a bike that resembles many of the French motorcycles produced from the 1920-60's, but its design is actually a direct descendant from a manufacturer little known outside the Hexagon. GIMA (Groupement Industriel Métallurgique Automobile) is an acronym that signifies nothing for the majority of bikers; only a few old timers and collectors will remember this marque. But once upon a time, in 1949 to be exact, GIMA was the talk of the town having just won the championship in the celebrated Bol d'Or motorcycle race in the 125 category.
Today GIMA is under threat. This superb project reviving the quality, craftsmanship and legend of a classic marque is threatened by the economic crisis on one hand, but more so by administration on the other. A project has been launched by the Voxan Club of France to defend this personal and industrial venture. The principle: to protect jobs and allow the company to pursue a long-term project. If you care about not losing another motorcycle company to history, sign the online petition which will be sent to the Tribunal of Commerce of Clermont-Ferrand, the Ministry of Industry and René Ricol, the mediator appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Originally established at 24 av.Pasteur in Chamalières (Puy de Dôme - 63), GIMA manufactured motorcycles of small engine capacity from 1947 to 1954. The engine that powered these machines were both Ydral and more commonly, the famous AMC engines utilized by many of French motorcycle firms and produced in Clermont-Ferrand. The frame was designed by Paul Josué, the first Frenchman to adopt the use of the telescopic fork.
Hilario Gonzalez, a former employee of AMC and founder of GP Meca, an industrial supply firm, met with early success since launching his own business in 1991. But Gonzalez found that with costs becoming more competitive, he was losing his clients to overseas competition. A choice had become necessary; whether to relocate or find a new direction. So, having purchased a vintage GIMA in the early 2000's to restore for his son, this motorcycle enthusiast and specialist in general mechanics decided to produce as accurate an example of the original GIMA as possible while adhering to modern norms. Almost entirely manufactured in France with the exception of a few minor pieces, Hilario went so far as to request permission from Paul Josué to duplicate the original frame and from Gilbert Chartoire, the son and heir of Louis founder of AMC, to re-fabricate the engine. The new GIMA 125 was first displayed at the Mondial du Deux Roues in 2005 sporting electronic ignition and modern carburation. It is currently produced in limited numbers in Peschadoires (63) and sells for 4290 € or about 1600 € shy of a new Royal Enfield, its closest competitor. As for color choice, it is entirely up the buyer to decide as these are hand built machines and purchases are made directly from the manufacturer.
Gonzalez has recently opened up his capitol to passionate investors in hopes of further development of his company and the product line. Future plans include versions the GIMA in 250 and 350cc.
The cause is not yet lost for this little manufacturer; its salvation lies in all of us. All that is needed is a little effort and a moment of time.
Interview with Hilario Gonzalez and factory pictures (French)