The Italian company Cagiva was founded in 1950, but at first they handled the production of metallic components. They didn't enter the motorcycle business for another two decades or so, but in 1978 the Cagiva racing team was founded. Gianfranco Bonera and Marco Lucchinelli were the first Cagiva drivers and they rode two motorcycles, both painted red and silver.
In October of the same year Cagiva bought the Schiranna factory from Harley-Davidson Italy and they started making bikes. By the time 1979 ends the company had more than 150 employees and an annual production of 40,000 bikes. Their range included eight two-stroke engine models, from 125 cc to 350 cc sold under the HD Cagiva brand.
In the 1980s, Cagiva began to manufacture dirt bikes and took Ron Turner and Duane Summers to test the beasts with powerful engines. In the same period of time, the company achieved the first podium result, Randy Mamola being "guilty" of that victory. At the beginning of the '90's, Cagiva brought Eddie Lawson into the family and the champion proved his talent one year later, winning the Hungarian Grand Prix. John Kocinski did the same thing, taking the third position in the 1994 World Championship.
In 1983 Cagiva signed an exclusive deal with Ducati for obtaining some of their four strokes engines. By doing so they entered the large displacement market borrowing 350cc to 1000cc Ducati engines. In the following years, the Cagiva company started buying out their competitors who were undergoing financial problems: Ducati, Moto Morini and Husqvarna. In 1986 another company was formed, called Cagiva Commerciale S.p.A having as its main objective the sale of Cagiva, Ducati, Husqvarna and Moto Morini bikes.
The Cagiva Research Centre was formed in the Republic of San Marino in 1987 and a new factory for producing steel and aluminum frames is built in 1990 in Morazzone. One year later, MV Agusta was purchased by Cagiva but in 1996 they had to sell Ducati and Moto Morini. For the following years, Cagiva rode the success of MV Agusta model, the F4 Oro, model presented in Milan International Salon.
In 1999 a new Cagiva factory was opened in Cassinetta di Biandronno and some important restructuring happened. MV Agusta became the main brand with Cagiva and Husqvarna as secondary brands. After that, some Cagiva models were presented at the Milan International Salon, models like the Raptor, V-Raptor and Navigator, which became legendary.