A Laverda Cafe Racer, wow this story is already cool. The German guys Wolf Custom are specialists no doubt, as you can see from their take on the 1982 Laverda 3CL, which sports an almost classic cafe racer-ish approach without being OTT. Lots of goodies here including a German PSS Rau chassis.
To give you an idea of the specs on this Laverda Cafe Racer:
- Engine: Laverda 1172 painted and polished
- Air filter: Custom-Wolf Hopper
- Exhaust: Lafranconi
- Frame: Rough / Custom Wolf
- Swingarm: Benelli TNT 1130 / Custom Wolf
- Shock: Ducati
- Fork: MV Agusta F4
- Yokes: Benelli TNT 1130
- Front wheels: Ducati Paul Smart 3.5 x 17
- Rear wheels: 5,5 x 17 Ducati Paul Smart
- Front brakes: 4-piston MV Agusta
- Back brakes: Benelli TNT
- Footrest: Over racing
- Tank: Custom aluminum Wolf
- Half cowling: Custom-Wolf Alu
- Spotlight: Custom-Wolf
- Bump / Bench: Custom-Wolf Alu
- Fenders: Custom-Wolf Alu
- Fittings / switch / E-BOX: Custom-Wolf
- Instruments / displays: Moto Classic Gadget
More about the Laverda Triple
From our 21st century perspective, it’s easy to forget that liter-class, multi-cylinder sportbikes like the Laverda 1000 3C Triple haven’t always been around. Before Soichiro Honda changed the rules in 1969 with his SOHC Honda CB750 Four, twins ruled the road. Kawasaki, with a SOHC 750 four of its own in the wings, was forced to up the ante with a DOHC 900 — the “New York Steak” Kawasaki Z1 — when Honda released the CB. Meanwhile, in the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy …
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” That quote, often attributed to German poet Johann von Goethe, could easily apply to Massimo Laverda. As functional head of Italian agricultural equipment-maker Laverda’s motorcycle division, Massimo’s bold and innovative approach to motorcycle design created some of the most distinctive and desirable motorcycles ever made — though whether the company’s boutique bike division ever made any money is doubtful. How very Italian!
Twins first, triples second
Though most Italian makers built small-capacity bikes, Massimo, who attended college in the U.S. and studied the motorcycle market carefully, knew that to capture the buying public’s attention he needed to compete against the big British twins on power and the Japanese on technology.
Those dual goals led to the Laverda 650cc twin of 1968, which was almost immediately upsized to 750cc.
But within a year of its U.S. introduction, the 750 was made obsolete by the Honda 750 Four. It wasn’t Laverda’s fault, and plenty of bike makers’ ranges were embarrassed by Honda’s bombshell. But back at Laverda headquarters in Breganze, Massimo, together with chief designer Luciano Zen, was already working on Laverda’s next model. Laverda’s masterstroke was to anticipate that 1,000cc would become the capacity benchmark, a move that allowed the small Italian firm to compete with larger factories throughout the Seventies.
The first Laverda 1,000cc prototype, shown at the Geneva show in 1969, was little more than the 750 twin with an extra cylinder. It retained the 750 twin’s chain-driven single overhead camshaft layout with the starter behind the cylinders and a belt-driven generator in front. Whether or not Massimo and Luciano knew the Kawasaki Z1 was on its way is moot. Either way, in 1970 they decided to develop a new prototype using the latest in cylinder head design. The cylinder block was spigoted into a new crankcase of massive strength, and was topped with a new cylinder head with narrowly angled valves operated by dual overhead camshafts via shim and bucket. The cams were driven by a toothed v-belt on the right side of the cylinders (something BSA also tried on an OHC Rocket III prototype during the company’s dying days).
The built-up crankshaft was supported on four roller bearings with a ball bearing on the timing side and an extra outrigger roller bearing in the primary cover. The front-mounted generator was gone, replaced by a crankshaft-end alternator.
There were some teething problems, including crankshaft fractures resulting from the “rocking couple” vibration inherent in a 120-degree triple.
Fixing the pistons 180 degrees apart (the outer two rise and fall together, with the center piston 180 degrees out of phase) solved the problem, and gave the triple its unique 1-2-3-miss exhaust note — but also resulted in the classic “buzz” associated with “up and down” engines.
Though no distributor had been appointed at that stage, the first 1000s arrived in the U.S. in early 1973 as personal imports — now fitted with a steel gas tank and 3-into-1-into-2 exhaust. Meanwhile in Europe, UK Laverda importer Roger Slater had combined tuning parts used in the highly successful factory production racer version of the triple and was fitting them to stock 3CLs. The result was a 95hp rocket ship that Slater persuaded the factory to build as a production machine. Laverda also adopted Slater’s suggested name for the beast: Jota, after a Spanish folk dance in triple time. But that’s another story…
Few Laverda 3Cs have survived the ravages of time, intemperate riders and shade-tree wrenchers. Though a Laverda triple’s mechanical construction would be familiar to any modern motorcycle mechanic, when introduced it was pretty new-fangled for those used to working on Brit twins and Harleys.
Laverda 1000 3C Triple
Years produced: 1974-1981
Total production: 2,300 (approx.)
Claimed power: 85hp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 133mph (est.)
Engine type: 981cc overhead cam, air-cooled inline triple
Weight (dry, est.): 225kg (495lb)
Price then: $3,900
Price now: $4,000-$8,000
MPG: 38 (period test)