For a lot of young bike fans, Frera is an unknown name. Only a few people know that the Frera is the oldest Italian motorcycle factory. The year of his establishment is 1905, therefore before the Gilera, created in 1909. Tradate, a little town near Varese, hosts the Frera museum with 50 bikes and other rare vehicles. “We have about 120 motorcycles – says Gianfranco Crosta, the Museum President – In addition to the Frera, which of course are the most representative for us, we have beautiful Guzzi, MV Agusta, Morini, some historic Vespa and even a very rare Maserati. The most important one? A 1905 Frera 300 with Zedel engine”.
The history of this company is also fascinating. “The founder Corrado Frera – says Crosta – was born to an Italian father in Rhenish Prussia, now East Germany, then he moved to Milan and opened a bicycle shop. First, he started to build bikes by himself and shortly after, in 1905, he also built the first motorcycle. From then on there was an escalation of this industry which in the golden period, that is in the first half of the 1920s, had come to have about 650 internal employees and an induced activity that generated a flow of workers of 2,000 people. A very flourishing industry then, given that in the First World War it supplied motorcycles and sidecars to the army. In 1929 there was the great American crisis that had a negative impact on the entire world industry. From that moment on, Frera also began to have its problems, it acquired partners who gradually took the majority of the company and put Corrado Frera in the minority. And since then things got worse and worse until 1936, the last year of production of the Frera”.
Gianfranco Crosta continues with other memories. “I am 65 years old and I did not live that era, but I have read books and, being born in Tradate, when I enter the museum I smell the scent of history, not only of Tradate, but of the whole of Italy. Unfortunately, the Frera had sad vicissitudes due to the politics of the time, before the Second World War, because the state ordered 300 motorcycles which it did not retire and that was the fatal blow for that industry that was already in great difficulty. But today the Frera brand still exists. It was purchased in 1990 by the Venetian entrepreneurs Antonio and Vittorio Fontana and in Arzagrande in the province of Padua there is now a factory that produces normal and electric bicycles. Which bikes do you dream of having in our museum? Each of the Frera owned by collectors from all over the world ”.