Laverda 500 Alpino & Formula racer
With Phil Aynsley
Released in 1977 Laverda’s 500cc parallel twin was designed to be a light-weight, sporty, everyday machine. A marked contrast to their 1000cc triples.
The specifications were quite advanced with DOHC and four-valve heads. It was also the first non Japanese production motorcycle with a six speed gearbox. Originally named the Alpina for the UK market, that was soon changed to the Alpino. In the US it was known as the Zeta.
The only major engine change during its production life was the fitment of a counterbalance shaft in 1978. Production ceased in 1982. However the Alpino formed the basis for the more famous Formula and Montjuic models. The motor (somewhat updated) was used in 1985 to power the OR600 Atlas enduro bike as well as the later 668 and 750 that were built up until 2000.
This particular bike is one of the last that came off the line in 1982 and is used by Laverda Corse as their track learning bike. It has non standard rear shocks and rack and offered 38hp at 8500rpm with a wet weight of 170kg, and top speed of 175km/h.
The Laverda Cup & Laverda Formula 500
The Laverda Cup race series was instigated by the company when the Italian government introduced a punitive 35% tax on motorcycles over 500cc in 1977 – just prior to the release of the 500 twin.
It was one of the first, if not the first, single model race series and ran from 1978 to 1981. Three batches of Formula machines were produced, each of 70 bikes – in ’78, ’79 and ’81.
The Formula was basically an Alpino S with an upgraded motor which used the S1 race cam, pistons that raised the compression ratio to 10.5:1 and a close ratio gearbox.
Sandcast rear sets and Menani clip-ons were fitted along with the race fairing and seat/tank unit. The removal of all the street equipment meant that, despite the additional bodywork, the Formula was 16kg lighter than the standard bike.
This 1979 bike is in “as finished” condition and is original apart from the additional seat padding, with power output 52hp at 10,000rpm, a wet weight of 160kg and top speed of 200km/h.