The Laverda motorcycle (Moto Laverda) subsidiary was an offshoot of Laverda Macchine Agricole (Laverda S.p.A.), an Italian manufacturer of agricultural equipment, farming implements, and wine-making machinery in Breganze, Northern Italy (Veneto) that dates back to 1873. The Laverda Motorcycle company, known as Moto Laverda S.A.S, was started in 1949 by Francesco Laverda (1910—1976), grandson of Laverda S.p.A. founder Pietro Laverda (1845—1930).
The Laverda Macchine Agricole factory survived Allied bombing during the 2nd World War, and the company was reinvented as Moto Laverda (aka Dottore Francesco Laverda e fratelli, or "Dr. Francesco Laverda & siblings"), capitalizing on the motorcycle craze that swept across northern Italy just after WWII. Moto Laverda's early motorbikes were conceived and designed by Laverda brothers Pietro junior, Francesco, Giovanni and Giorgio Laverda, along with Laverda's head of engineering, Luciano Zen.
As was the case for most all of the Italian motorcycle manufacturers during the late 1940, to early 1950s, Moto Laverda focused on small-displacement bikes, built in the Italian tradition of craftsmanship, and attention to detail, combined with a durable 'tractor-like' build quality.
1958 Laverda Sport Lusso 100
In the mid to late 1950s Laverda focused on 50cc to 125cc Turismo and Sport machines, in both two-stroke and four-stroke versions.
Laverda Sport Lusso 98cc Single-Cylinder Motor
Moto Laverda tried branching into just about every motorcycle sub-group during its lifespan, including race/sport bikes, Vespa-like scooters, motocross, trials, and touring, partnering with German manufacturers like Zčndapp, and Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna to build unusual bikes that broke out of the traditional Italian design stereotype.
The Laverdino Scooter
Moto Laverda also introduced a 50cc (48cc) 'tiddler' scooter that were nicknamed the"Laverdino." The Laverdino was produced in a 'Turismo' and a 49cc 'Sport' version. The Laverdino had a 4-stroke OHV pushrod engine with a three-speed gearbox, the produced 2.5 hp at 6,800 rpm. Laverdinos had a backbone-type frame, but the styling was similar to the 75cc and 100cc Sport Lusso. Laverdino switched to a 2-stroke version in 1961.
The Laverda GT750 & SF750 Twins
By 1969, Laverda was ready to enter the burgeoning large-displacement field, launching its GT750 touring, SF750 sport, and SFC (super freni competizione) race bike. Orange (known as "SFC Orange") became Laverda's signature color during this period.
1974 Laverda 750 SFC Twin
The 750 mill was an chain-driven OHC parallel-twin that produced up to 70 hp, and used the engine as a stressed chassis member. The Laverda reputation for durability grew out of their compulsion to over-design and over-build engine components and bearing systems. The 750s also came with the latest innovations in street/sport motorcycling, like cast mag wheels and disc brakes.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Laverda was imported to America under the "American Eagle" name by McCormack Internation.
The Laverda Husqvarna 'LH'
In 1977, Laverda partnered with Husqvarna of Sweden to build a motocross bike that would replace its own 250cc 'Chott' 2TR model. The Laverda/Huskvarna hybrid 'LH1' The LH series was powered by a 125cc, and 250cc 2-stroke single with Dell'Orto carb. Between 1977 and 1980 Laverda sold only around 2,000 LH!, LH@, and LH3 versions.
When the Husqvarna/Laverda partnership ended, Laverda went on the build 2-stroke off-road versions using Cagiva 125cc engines for their Atlas and LB Uno models.
The Laverda Zčndapp 'LZ'
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Laverda partnered with German manufacturer Zčndapp of Munich, Germany to build to 'LZ' line. The LZ 125 and LZ 175 Mčnchen/Breganze hybrid featured a Zundapp water-cooled 2-stroke engine with an oil-in-frame reservoir. The Pippo LZ 50 was a smaller 50cc air-cooled 2-stroke moped version. Over 20,000 Laverda LZs were produced through 1983.
The Laverda Triples
By the beginning of 1970, the Honda four-cylinder CB750s, and Kawasaki 2-stroke Mach III triples were garnering rave reviews, so Laverda decided to up the anti with its three-cylinder 1000 Triple, launched in 1973.
1974 Laverda 1000 3C Triple
The 1000 Triple's engine was a 980cc two valve per cylinder, chain-driven DOHC design that produced 78 hp at 7,750 rpm, and a top speed of 129.9 mph. Just prior to the bike's introduction, a 1000 Triple with a stock engine, slightly modified frame, and signature orange body-work won the "TrophÄe Steiermark" in Zeltweg, Austria; earning it the title of the world's fastest production motorcycle.
Laverda 1000 3C Triple 981cc Engine
The downside of the Triple's 'one-up-two-down' 180╝ crankshaft design was a significant amount of vibration. The Laverda 1000 featured many of the expected design cues Honda was now utilizing with its CB 750, including dual front disc brakes, a 5-speed transmission, and a purpose-built utilitarian design. The major divergence was in the retail price.
The Laverda 1000 V6
With an eye on developing some GP racing heritage, and a decision that 'more is better,' Laverda introduced the 1000 V6 in 1976. The Laverda had a longitudinally mounted V-6, and with the exception of the Curtiss V-8 built in 1907, no company had dared to build such a massive longitudinally mounted multi-cylinder motorcycle engine.
The Laverda V-6 was never used in a production motorcycle, and its primary function was to gain back some supremacy in the GP racing field. The engine's design was penned by Giulio Alfieri, who was technical director of Maserati during the 1960s (1960 Maserati Birdcage Tipo 60/61), and designed high-output V-8 engines for Lamborghini (JALPA P 350) during the early 1970s.
Although the engine's performance was admirable during an inaugural showing at the Bol d'Or in 1978, Laverda S.p.A. had blown its wad on engine R&D, neglecting chassis development, creating a 'curiosity' that would fail to perform as intended.
Not to be outdone in the multi-cylinder arena, Honda's R&D engineers were quick to respond with the CBX inline six-cylinder production bike just two years later.
The Laverda 1000 Jota
By 1976, a UK importer named Roger Slater introduced the "Jota," a high-performance version of the Laverda 1000 3C triple, with high-compression pistons, faster cams, and modified exhaust, that started out as a British-only version.
1977 Laverda 1000 Jota (foreground), 1000 3C (background)
1982 was the Jota Triple's last year for the 'one-up-two-down' 180╝ crankshaft, now redesigned at a 120╝ angle to compete with the smoothness of the Honda and Yamaha fours. Unfortunately by this point the writing was on the wall, and the low-cost, high-volume Japanese production philosophy proved to be too much for the Europeans to compete with.
By this point the Japanese were now battling each-other for market domination, technical advancement, and racing supremacy in the now-infamous "Honda-Yamaha Wars," and bikes like the Honda CBX and Yamaha XS1100 were leaving the Europeans in the dust. By 1985, Laverda S.p.A. threw in the towel on Moto Laverda.
The Laverda 'ZanĆ Era'
The company had a brief resuscitation in 1993, when investor Francesco Tognon re-started the Laverda brand in ZanĆ, Italy, between Verona and Padova in the Veneto region. Bikes that were produced during this period are referred to as "Zane Laverdas."
The Zane/Laverda incarnation created a full line of motorcycles including the Laverda Diamante, Laverda 650, Laverda 668, and Laverda 750 'Ghost Strike,' and a prototype flagship 900cc liquid cooled 3 cylinder sport bike. Failing to generate market enthusiasm, Moto Laverda S.p.A shut down agian, in 1998/99.
The Laverda 'Laprilia' Superbike
The Aprilia Group S.p.A. purchased the Laverda name in 2000, creating the 'SFC,' which was basically a re-packaged Aprilia RSV1000 with Laverda bits. The SFC was given the pejorative nickname of the "Laprilia," and by 2003, Laverda was no more.
2005 Laverda 1000 SFC 141 hp Superbike (Photo: Laverda Press Release - www.laverda.it)
Like a cat with nine lives, the Laverda brand may once-again be reborn - this time by Aprilia owner Piaggio & Co. S.p.A., with the introduction of the 1000 SFC.
Moto Laverda Links
North American Laverda Owners Club
Early Laverdino Scooters
Early Laverda Line
Laverda 1000 Jota Triple's Sound in Quicktime
laverdamania - History, Facts, Trivia, and Photos
The New Moto Laverda - Piaggio & Co. S.p.A.
MSN Laverda Community
Zane Era Laverdas - 650/668 Technical Information
Laverda Fibreglass Replica Parts
Laverda Ghost - 1998 Review
Laverda SF750 - 1971 Review
Laverda Jota vs Yamaha XS1100
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