Cagiva comes from CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese. Cagiva is an Italian conglomerate with many varied interests. At one point they owned a basketball team, made locks for luggage, and even chewing gum at one time. Apparently, the brothers Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni who run Cagiva were big fans of motorcycles so in 1978 they bought the Aermacchi AMF Harley-Davidson factory in Italy, and also Ducati.
At that time there was still a strong relationship with Harley-Davidson. In 1986 they went on to purchase Husqvarna Motorcycles.
In 1984 Italian rider Corrado Maddii was going to win the Motocross 125cc Championship but broke his leg in practice at the last event. This would have been really huge as Suzuki had won this title every year that it was in existence. All Maddii had to do was get a single point to win. Cagiva took the title in 1985, 1986, and 1987. (Another correspondent informs us that they missed out in 87 & 88 by just a few points)
Between 1991 and 1997 Cagiva partnered with CZ in the production of a range of cheaper 125 to 200cc 2- and 4-stroke motorcycles, but the bikes were not well received and the project was not a success.
In 1995 Cagiva entered a joint venture with Yanmar Marine.