The early days
In 1934 two young businessmen, Luis Riera Carré and Jaime Juanola Farres, began their entrepreneurial adventure by manufacturing bicycle accessories. They fused their names together to create the RIEJU brand name (RIEra+JUanola).
They then began to purchase property to construct a factory, but the Spanish Civil War interrupted their plans. The Republican government confiscated their factory before construction was complete, to use the facility as a trucking center for their fleet. During the course of the war, a second floor was added to the existing building. The second floor was to be considered an interest payment upon return of the facilities.
The Civil War ends
After the end of the Spanish Civil War, RIEJU restarted its business by creating a line of bicycle accessories in 1934.
Vehicle manufacturing begins
Salvador Dalí's father, a notary, certified the creation of RIERA Y JUANOLA, S.L. (RIEJU) in 1942. The company was established as a limited company, with a capital stock of 1 million pesetas.
They continued to manufacture and market accessory components (helium for electrical equipment and Rigit for bicycle handlebars). Later they began to manufacture the first RIEJU bicycles, using the EMPORIUM and MARATHON brand names. The company (with about 35 employees) manufactured around 30 bicycles a week (this was the business plan presented to the Delegation of the Ministry of Industry).
The first motorcycle is born, the No. 1
RIEJU's first product in 1945, was what would later be called a "moped". It was a bicycle with a 38cc 4T auxiliary engine (French Serwa engine), direct transmission to the rear wheel, two speeds, and 1 CV. It even had the ability to reach 40Km/h! The No. 1 came equipped with a chrome petrol tank, was hand-welded, varnished... and an assembly similar to the "Rolls-Royce" concept (piece by piece with excellence). This allowed RIEJU to successfully begin its entrepreneurial adventure in the world of two-wheeled vehicles with engines.
1949: We designed the engine for the No. 2
Based on the 1945 model of the No. 1, the first RIEJU moped was manufactured in 1949. The moped had a small, French 50cc 4T independent transmission engine connected to a clutch, along with a gear shift. It was completely designed and developed by RIEJU. Therefore, July 1949 is considered the birth date of the No. 2.
The No. 2 was one of the most well known motorcycles of the time. It is without a doubt, one of our most appreciated historical mopeds.
The steadfast principle: technological advancement
The No. 3 appeared the following year in 1951: This moped differed completely from the previous model, with the exception of the engine. The following year, 1952, aesthetic changes where made in the development of the No. 4. These advancements and improvements continued at a rapid pace. The company strived to perfect the RIEJU engine assembly, and to incorporate typical motorcycle features into the design. During that time, the steadfast principle was advancement and improvement. Between 1950 and 1955, more than 21 prototypes were produced, and the company began to use high-tech quality control processes. At RIEJU, the commitment to quality was a clear objective from the onset, along with competitive value and the desire to stand out in the industry.
The first 100% RIEJU motorcycle
In 1953, the 175cc RIEJU (with an AMC 4T engine) was born. The model was black in color with gold lines on the finish, and was equipped with a suspension system (hydraulic telescopic front fork and oscillating rear suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers). A partnership was created with the engine manufacturer AMC to supply the engines, since RIEJU had little experience with this type of engine, and was unable to self-manufacture the engine. The company also had a partnership with FITA in Figueres (where engines were manufactured under license). The 175 was based on the GIMA 175. RIEJU adapted and modified the design to manufacture a model that was lighter, easier to drive, and in general a more desirable design, especially since it provided a much more comfortable ride on the road. Additionally, the model boasted more efficient fuel consumption (due to improvements made to the RIEJU engine). This feature contributed to increased sales. 5,000 units were manufactured between 1953 and 1961. Afterwards (the chassis) its commercial run (propelled by a different type of engine - the Hispano Villiers) lasted another 4 years. During this time, 1,000 vehicles were produced per year. The great demand by distributors, and the power of the 175cc RIEJU gave great prestige to the company name.
With its carefully planned business strategies, RIEJU was able to survive (even on a small scale) while many Spanish industry giants in the sector failed. RIEJU always remained faithful to its initial idea of making the best of each moment.
The misunderstood scooter
In 1959, RIEJU worked on the development of a scooter, using 50 and 125cc AMC engines. The design was based on the French Sulky high-wheel scooter. In 1958, RIEJU introduced its commercial version of the scooter project under the name ISARD: a motorcycle-scooter hybrid, with a very unique look. This model nearly drove the company to fail, since it was never successful in the commercial market. The introduction of a bold and daring look, combined with the ambition to introduce a perfect finished project to the market (which raised the sales price considerably), and poor mechanical accessibility forced RIEJU to abandon production in 1960 - with few units sold.
The TAHON (SPORT 125), a slightly modified copy of the French Derny with a 2 stroke AMC engine, was also unsuccessful. Oddly enough, today the model is one of the most admired motorcycles (for its unique look) in our collection by our visitors. The model also received great admiration from visitors at the Bassella Motorcycle Museum's "Postwar Motorbikes Exhibition" of February 2006-2007.
In 1958, the 125cc JACA Sport model was added to the RIEJU product line. It was very sporty for the time, and included features such as aluminum wheel rims, handlebars, a racing seat, an air-cooled brake drum...These were all luxury items very few could afford at the time, and it came with a very high price. RIEJU quickly ascertained the cause of the poor sales response (the model was greatly admired, but it did not conjure the desired commercial success). Therefore, the 125cc JACA was removed from the market in 1959. There was also a touring motorcycle that was manufactured without all of the extras on the SPORT model. This version enjoyed excellent commercial success.
In 1959, Rieju launched the JACA (equipped with a 125 cc 2T AMC engine), a model with a more conservative look than its predecessor, which, with sales of nearly 3200 units between 1959 and 1963, brought the company back to a stronger position.
Italy and the moped
There was a major decline in new registrations in Spain in 1960. The 175cc engine was no longer attractive to the public, who demanded a new, different model. One type of model that enjoyed tremendous success at the time in Italy was the small cylinder vehicle. The moped. With this in mind, RIEJU looked for solutions in Italy. The company formed an alliance with MOTORI MINARELLI. RIEJU became the exclusive importer of this brand of engines and parts in Spain.
1964. RIEJU's second phase
RIEJU began what many consider to be its second phase in 1964. After signing an agreement in 1960, the company obtained a license to manufacture Italian engines in Figueres. This marks a "before and after" for RIEJU, since all of the moped engines the company assembles to this day are of MINARELLI origin.
The manufacture of Minarelli engines (under license) began in Figueres (at Industrias FITA), with a progressive plan to produce an integral engine. The first result was the JACA Version with a 3.5 CV engine and a maximum speed of 70 km/h. The speed had to be limited due to a new law, which established a speed limit of 40 km/h for mopeds. Since the RIEJU engines were not being used to their full potential, they became known as being practically "indestructible". This reputation prompted state officials, such as those at Correos de España (the Spanish Post Office), to begin to use RIEJU vehicles.
A new series of RIEJU motorcycles and mopeds resulted from the MINARELLI-RIEJU partnership. This series of motorbikes proved to be very reliable on the often difficult Spanish roads of the 1960's. These robust motorbikes with solid wheelbases - a symbol of quality - are still ridden throughout the country to this day.
The P3A model was manufactured until 1971, the year the off-road version was introduced. In May 1974, the company began manufacturing the CONFORT 400, CONFORT 402, and TT 402 models. These models were all updates of previous models, similar to the GT 404; a moped with a much more modern double cradle frame.
Adding to the product line
In 1976 and 1977, new models were constantly being introduced to the market. Many of the models were improvements over the previous models. The first all-terrain motorcycles were developed during this time. Later, RIEJU would showcase these developments by achieving success in the competitive racing world. During these years the CONFORT, TT 503, CONFORT 501, and TT 504 models were brought to light; with aesthetic changes from the previous models.
Welcome to competition
In 1978, the TT 406 came onto the scene as an improved redesign of the TT, with a 74cc engine. MINARELLI wanted to introduce this model to the highest level of all-terrain competition. And so it was. RIEJU began a successful adventure, participating in its first ever Spanish Enduro Championship in the 75cc category. (RIEJU obtained a total of 12 national championships in this category during its history!).
This year, RIEJU unsuccessfully competed in the automatic moped category
1979 is also one of the most important years in RIEJU history. The TT 505 (with an exhaust type "muffler") MARATHON series in 50 and 74cc was developed, and was presented at the Barcelona Exhibition. The series gave identity and color to the RIEJU name: From that time on, the public associated the color green with the RIEJU brand name for all-terrain vehicles. As a result of the success obtained from this model, RIEJU began to specialize in off-road motorcycles.
This color remains associated with RIEJU even today, as does the mythical name associated with the brand name when speaking of the MARATHON: almost a legend in the mind of fans, fueled by a nostalgic desire to own a motorcycle produced since the time of their birth through the 1990's: its features and successes make it a deserving part of Spanish motorcycling history.
Also in 1979, manufacture of the 50 AUTOMATIC KS began.
The 80cc Marathon
In 1980 the MARATHON 80 ENDURO and CROSS was introduced, motorcycles that would be present in most races and that laid claim to many victories. For the road, on the other hand, 1983 bore witness to the arrival of the STRADA 75, with a 5-speed gearbox and disk brake on the front wheel. 1984 saw the appearance of the MR8O after some previous small modifications, it was to be the worthy successor to the Marathon due to all the experience gained after years of competition.
At the 1985 Barcelona Exhibition, RIEJU displayed the new models. The SPRINT model (a new automatic moped) included the first aesthetic changes to the MARATHON (the SUPER MARATHON 50 that would later become the RV 50 in 1986). That year RIEJU received the Silver Plate for Motorcycle Achievement from the Spanish Government for winning second place in the Enduro World Championship. RIEJU also won the 80cc Spanish Enduro Championship and the 80cc Junior Speed Championship.
In 1987, total production reached 8,000 units. In 1990 15,000 motorbikes were sold. Almost all of the models sold had manual transmission, which made RIEJU the industry leader in this sector.
In 1992 RIEJU celebrated its 50th anniversary as a company. The company celebrated by introducing the new WINDY model, an automatic moped with an auto-mix scooter engine, disc brakes, and space to store a helmet under the seat. That same year, the XXV Olympic Games were held in Barcelona.