Laverda 650 Twin

The ‘modern’ Laverda story

By Phil Aynsley


What we have here is the beginning of the “modern” Laverda story – the 650 twin.

Laverda branched into larger capacity offerings with the 650
Laverda branched into larger capacity offerings with the 650

It was after a meeting with John McCormack in the US (who later distributed Laverdas under the American Eagle brand name), that Massimo Laverda saw the need for a large capacity model, particularly for the US market.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

Prior to its debut late in 1966 at the Earls Court Motor Show in London, Laverda was best known for its range of small capacity singles (although they did produce a 200cc parallel-twin in 1961).

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

That changed after the 650 went into production in May 1968, just in time for the superbike boom.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

Massimo and engineer Luciano Zen had taken 18 months to bring the design to production ready status.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

The end result was a high-quality motorcycle, fitted with the best components available at the time – Pankl con-rods, Ceriani suspension, Bosch electrics and a Nippon-Denso electric starter.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

The 650 made 50hp at 6800rpm and was good for about 175km/h. They also enlarged the capacity to produce a 750cc version.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

Two bikes of each capacity were entered in the ’68 Giro d’Italia with all four finishing in the top ten outright and a 650 winning its class.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

When production began both capacities were offered but only 50 of the 650s were built before Laverda decided to concentrate on the 750.

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

This bike has chassis number 1017 was built in the first week of production (the 650s and 750s shared numbers).

Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley
Laverda 650 with Phil Aynsley

It was restored by the company in 2005 and photographed in Cor Dees’ Laverda Museum in the Netherlands in 2015.

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Terry Colley
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Terry Colley

Phil, Thanks for that little history story. Like many others I didn’t realise the Laverda 750 actually started out as 650. You made no comment on the look of the engine which appears to be styled in the manner of the Honda CB72/77. Was this mere coincidence or do you think John McCormack’s time with American Honda led him to influence Massimo and engineer Luciano Zen when they were at the drawing board?
Cheers
Terry

Peter
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Peter

I think it is no coincidence, and both in terms of looks and engineering, they were looking at honda.