Lovin' the Laverda

Lovin' the Laverda: Beauty Meets Brute Force in Breganze

Page 3 - Love Laverdas?

2005 International Laverda Rally - SoCal Extravaganza

You don't have to have a Laverda to attend. But you certainly might lust after one, if you do.

Alan Chalk and friend Bob Andren have been organizing a four-day event at the end scheduled for April 28-May 1, 2005 in conjunction with The Garage Company's annual "Corsa Moto Classica" event at Willow Springs. A number of dignitaries from Laverda, including Piero Laverda from Europe and the U.S. will be attending as well as an international gathering of Laverda owners. "We're bringing together everybody who was involved with Laverda in the United States. It never happened before and it won't happen again," says Alan. You don't have to have a Laverda to attend. But you certainly might lust after one, if you do. (More information: Bob Andren - bobkandren@cs.com; Alan Chalk - alantchalk@aol.com; Garage Company - 310-821-1793; sales@garagecompany.com; North American Laverda Owners Club - http://www.lavusa.com/) Asked if we'll ever see a beautiful new incarnation of the Laverda triple, Alan simply says: "Not likely." 

Laverdas Current Non-Status

The company is in limbo, hanging somewhere in the cloud of the Aprilia-Moto Guzzi-Ducati-Piaggio corporate wranglings. Asked if we'll ever see a beautiful new incarnation of the Laverda triple, Alan simply says: "Not likely."  

The SF2 750 and SFC 750 share the same pedigree, although less than 500 SFCs were built as compared to almost 20,000 SFs. The latest breaking news has Ducati attempting to buy Aprilia (owners of Laverda), so who knows what new Laverdas lurk on the horizon. As the official Laverda factory web site states: "In the 1990s, the company went through a major financial and market crisis caused by a policy of product diversification which did not obtain the expected results. With its entry into the Aprilia - Moto Guzzi - Laverda group, the make aims to get back in step with the times, with a widespread presence on the markets and a range of products divided into a number of sectors. Despite a long period of difficulty and an absence of new proposals, the Laverda name lives on in the hearts of numerous motorcycle enthusiasts. Future plans are largely aimed at producing medium and high capacity bikes able to bring a great tradition back to life, with the addition of the most advanced technology developed by the motorcycle industry. Reconstruction of an extensive and efficient after-sales service network has thus begun. At the same time, as part of the programme to relaunch the make, the "Laverda Club Italia" has been founded, with the aim of becoming a reference point for the thousands of enthusiasts, collectors and operators who nurse great hopes for the Laverda bikes of tomorrow."

Buying Your Own Laverda

This information was gleaned from a great source of Laverda info - Laverdamania - http://perso.wanadoo.fr/laverdamania.

It is very important to listen to the noise of the engine: Even if these engines are a bit noisy because of numerous chains and bearings, it is necessary to know if there are not abnormal vibes or rattlings..."When choosing a 750 or 1000, remember that the Laverda engines had been conceived to be restored several times, the limit being the state of the crankcases or, in some cases, the triple's heads. The 650/750 engines are very reliable and easy to work on. The crankshafts are especially strong, even if some left the factory with minor balancing and even timing problems on the very early bikes. One must check the engine for oil leaks, especially around the head gasket or at the rear of the crankcases, near the mounting points on the frame. Remember that a Laverda engine shouldn't have oil leaks and has very low oil consumption: Oily exhaust pipe ends are therefore suspect.

It is very important to listen to the noise of the engine: Even if these engines are a bit noisy because of numerous chains and bearings, it is necessary to know if there are not abnormal vibes or rattlings (suggesting a worn crankshaft), clickings to the upper engine (worn pistons rings, rockers axles) or any worn bearing noise.

However, the presence of pinging in S and early SFs engines is almost inevitable; because of a high compression ratio and lower lead and octane indexes in today's fuel, (It is possible to reduce this problem by slightly retarding the ignition, whereas octane boosters have little effect). The gearbox handling must be precise and easy even without clutch action. Finally, on very early crankcases (650 and first 750) with no or only one barrel on the LHS behind left cylinder, it is possible to find some cracks in this area. Later crankcases solved this problem. Though not his daily rider, Alan's RGS was bought new in 1984 and now shows 11,000 trouble free miles on its clock.

The frames are solid, even if some of them crack around the rear engine mounts, when they are loosened. Therefore, it is not rare to find frames welded in this spot, before owners decide themselves to tighten the engine bolts. Ceriani fork and rear shock absorbers are of good quality and easily repaired if necessary. However, hunting down 35 mm Ceriani fork parts is actually difficult, things are a bit better for 38 mm types.

Finally, you have to check the sprocket plate and wheels bearings regularly.

Points to check: Sprocket plate bearings, cracked frame around the rear engine fixings, LHS crank bearing, camshaft bearings and spindle.

Carefully check for perfect carbs state and no air leaks (inlet stubs and gaskets state).

Regarding the 1,000cc 180° triples, it's a bit harder, because the factory made some engine modifications which weren't always fortunate. As a general rule, choose an engine with oil cooler, enlarged head gaskets, A11 or 4C camshafts for best output power at high revs and also 3CL bodywork. But some bike enthusiasts prefer the wild look of the early models with spoke wheels and no flashers. However, even if the 180° engine is the most expressive of all Laverdas, it's important to keep in mind that it is too the most difficult to live with: Old Bosch ignition and charging systems require a lot of attention and fuel consumption is quite high. Apart from these points, the same precautions as for the 750s should be taken: Check that there are no suspects noises and excessive vibes, even if the 180° crankshaft is almost indestructible. Bosch ignition is really THE problem, test the bike at different temperatures and at low revs. Engine must run as smooth as possible. The solution is to fit a modern electronic ignition like the excellent IIS which is certainly the first improvement to do on a 1,000cc Laverda. It happens that some alloy inlet stubs crack with age and result is a lean mixture. New stubs can be found easily. At the contrary, handling is very good thanks to the solid frame and to Ceriani fork and absorbers. Bodywork state must be watched over, because some parts are difficult to find and are expensive."

Laverda Triples: Two Variations on a Theme

The Laverda triple is brutal, its sound and feeling unique, and yes there is vibration, though not of the unpleasing mind numbing kind. There were two engine designs, one featuring 180° camshaft timing, the second engine series (1982 to 1989) using120°, in an attempt to "civilize" the Laverda triple. This resulted in a more tractable engine and one closer to Japanese standards. But as a result, the original engine with its all its brutal character lost some of it personality, but the rider benefited especially on long trips and touring. The difference between the 180 and 120° engines was summed on the Laverdamania web site by Laverda enthusiast Ed Lutz:

"The two designs are definitely different, and at times I find it easy to think they are completely unrelated. The biggest difference to me is in the motors. The 180 is a torque monster, pulling from way down low with a hell for strong mid range that pulls hard all the way up but seems to flatten off a bit on the high end.

"The 180° triple has loads more "soul" and to me at least sounds much better than the 120° motors, but I don't think the end result would be as efficient, and performance is really all about efficiency." The 180 tends to vibrate a bit as it revs but unless one was weaned on Japanese fours I don't think the vibes would be all that bad (if the bike is tuned properly. If its not they can shake your hands off the bars!) The 120 is much smoother, almost no vibration at all as it revs up. The 120's power band starts off slow but really likes to rev. The result is two bikes that feel very different, with totally different personalities. Handling wise the 180s are taller, the 120s have lower seats. To me the 120 is "softer" feeling, not as sharp, but that's probably as much due to how I set mine up as anything else. I use my Executive for touring and my Jota for sporting so have the suspensions set up differently. Too me that's really the difference between the two designs. The 120 is more refined, smoother, makes me feel like knocking off the miles. I use that one for the 1000 mile days. The 180 is a hot rod, a bit of a beast, not refined at all and thus that bike tends more toward shorter days going faster. I have toured on the Jota though but would usually prefer the Executive for this. All that aside, if one were to want to build a really fast Laverda I would think a 120 motor would maybe be the way to go. The 120 in my Spondon special is a great performance motor as it is smooth, it builds revs fast and doesn't take your attention away from riding by vibrating or doing anything outside of its job. It also makes loads of torque and horse power. You could build a 180 to do the same and probably make just as much HP but in the end it might not work as well. Strange, but I think it might be more fun as the 180 has loads more "soul" and to me at least sounds much better but I don't think the end result would be as efficient, and performance is really all about efficiency."

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