Cagiva is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. It was founded in 1950 by Giovanni Castiglioni in Varese, originally producing small metal components. Giovanni's sons, Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni, went into the motorcycle industry in 1978. The name is a portmanteau derived from the founder's name 'Giovanni Castiglioni' and the founding location, i.e. CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese.
In its history, Cagiva won races in Dakar and Motocross competitions, as well as in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. In the early 1980s Cagiva began to manufacture dirt bikes and started a massive public relations program with the opening of its North American branch. It hired Ron Turner and Duane Summers to test and develop its bikes. Cagiva motocross bikes were characterized by their fast powerful engines and innovative features, such as the MX line that had only one spring in the front forks with one fork controlling rebound and the other compression.
At the end of the 1970s the company began campaigning the Grand Prix motorcycle racing circuit. Randy Mamola was its lead rider from 1988 to 1990, and he achieved Cagiva’s first podium result. It would also have some technical assistance from Yamaha. In 1991 it signed former world champion Eddie Lawson to its team. Lawson would claim the company's first victory when he won the 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix. John Kocinski would also win a Grand Prix on a Cagiva GP500 (C594), finishing third in the 1994 world championship.