No doubt that the
1000 Laverda is one of the bike which has the strongest character!
comes its physical and aesthetical aspect, a very big and beautiful engine, very
clean design, and a general look which gives a very expressive bike in spite of
what is ultimately a very elegant picture.
The character of the engine
too, above all in 180° version, is made of a strong and brutal attitude! Power
and torque, deep sound, brutality, everything contributes to make a 1000 Laverda
road test an unforgettable experience, even if we have tested so many bikes before.
No doubt that Laverda could have civilized this bike a bit, but this is this wild
character which finally makes of it a priceless experience.
no one-day 1000 Laverda tester: Until you ride it, you are doubtful, even critical
versus a monster that you can't really understand. But since you test it, you
just want it for ever!
The 1000 Laverda has three cylinders of 980,76
cm3, offering specs of a multicylinder (vivacity, high revs,...) and in the same
time also the strong character of a big unitary cubic capacity engine (torque,
deep sound, ...).
There were two crankshaft timings: The first one, from
1973 to 1981, has two external pistons at TDC while central one is down, hence
the nick name of "180°". This timing was initially used to avoid excessive side
pressure onto the crank bearings, a well known problem on any 120° engine .
Thus the only engine ever built with a 180° timing was created, resulting
in a special character:
is different compared to any marketed engine: The engine is brutal, the sound
and feeling are unique, vibes can be present... Add to that a...perfectible Bosch
electronic ignition (which did no favours for Laverda in its inquiries for the
best products available at that time...), accentuating the brutality of the beast,
and you are riding a sort of monster, all the pleasure laying to tame it... if
This engine continues to delight the enthusiasts who still
haven't found its equal on the market.
The 180° series includes the very
early 1000s (with drum brakes, quickly replaced by disc brakes), then in 1976
the 3CL which looked radically different thanks to just a new seat and alloy wheels
(The French and Swiss series were unfortunately equipped with A12 camshafts, to
comply the emissions and noise reg.) and the Jota conceived under the requirements
of the UK importer Slater's (the 1000 Laverda was a best-seller in UK where it
reached the status of a real legend) which became the fastest bike on earth with
the 1200 SC Laverda-Sulzbacher built in Austria... The 1000 Laverda won the production
bikes championship in UK in 1976, 78 and 79 against others big japanese or british
bikes, and also in Austria, Sweden, Belgium...
engine series (1982 to 1989) got the same cubic capacity and an identical design,
but its crankshaft timing was 120° with the aim to civilize a bit the Laverda
triple. Result was a most manageable engine, without any power peaks, closer to
Japanese standards. In others words, the Laverda triple lost some of its character
but became easier for long trips and touring. At the same time, it got a new
bodywork design (conceived and built out of the factory by a design studio) and
changed its name, becoming the RGS. This bike was available also in some others
versions: Corsa (Sport), RGA (economic without the full fairing), Executive (GT)
and RGA Jota (with a different paint job and fairing). Finally, in 1984,
the SFC 1000 was produced (Corsa engine, different body work design) which, paradoxically,
rended some character to these last triples produced.
to get a excellent idea of the differences beetween the 180° and 120°
Laverda triples, here what said the Laverdist Ed Lutz, I couldn't find a better
and so right opinion:
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 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!)
120 is much smoother, almost no vibration at all as it revs up. The 120s 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 thats 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 thats really the difference between the two designs.
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."
remembered what this Navy pilot said - after each landing on his aircraft carrier
(he flew those big piston engined AD-6 Skyraiders). When he finally parked and
turned off the ignition, the exhaust note would be gone and you could then hear
the big propeller go "Whop whop whop" as it spun down. And he'd have to stay in
the cockpit for a few minutes because his legs were shaking so much. Well, the
Laverda didn't quite have that effect on me, but I would still be sitting there,
looking at it, and these stupid words would keep going over and over in my mind:
"Holy hell, what an experience!"