Erik Buell and John Britten are the names that strike our mind when we think of the great motorcycle inventors and the bikes that hold up their names. The similar status was achieved by Francesco Laverda in motorcycle development in postwar Italy. Francesco built and designed Laverda’s first motorcycle with the help of fellow worker and friend in his spare time at home. Just like Buell and Britten, he established the legend of Laverda. In 1937, Francesco Laverda graduated from the University of Padova holding a degree in pure physics.
Laverda’s aim was to produce a low-cost bike which could meet the needs of the common people and to produce an economical (60 km/liter). His knowledge and physics background helped him to design the first Laverda motorcycle. This cleverly designed bike had a 3-speed gearbox and multi-plate clutch in an oil bath. Francesco ensured that he would surely develop road racing bike in the future. The standard version of the bike produced 3 horsepower at 5,200rpm but the racing version produced 8 horsepower at 12,000rpm.
Francesco took three years to transform his Laverda from design through prototype and the final production 1950. The main goal was to offer low maintenance for conventional chain and sprockets as it would be mainly used on unsealed roads. The rear swingarm rode on a cantilever spring and the girder style forks were at the front. Laverda then produced Regolarita version and a Sports model for road racing. In the Milano-Taranto race in 1952, Sport 75s filled the first five places with 16 Laverda in the top 20. And the next year it filled top 14 places which were truly amazing!
Laverda brought its first parallel twin in 1961, which approximately weighed 264 pounds and had a speed of almost 70 mph. Some of the fittings of this bike such as the pressed-steel frame, carrier and oil tank was cast in the family kitchen. The headlamp shell of the bike was also different, it had additional warning lamp and featured rubber plug with the Laverda logo. There was no space for the wiring inside the fuel tank, hence the round reflector was situated on the headlamp mounts. There were thick wires leading to the Lucas switches and the electrical connectors were moved underneath.
In the 1990s, the company introduced a new range of small capacity 350 and 500 bikes but suffered some financial problems. The company was finally purchased by Aprilia group and launched different models. But 75cc Laverda bike is a part of Piero Laverda’s collection and still in the hands of the family.
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