1983 Laverda RGS 1000

The Classic Experience

| November/December 2010

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    Motorcycle Classics editor-in-chief Richard Backus' 1983 Laverda RGS 1000.
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    The RGS’ 3-cylinder engine is a bit buried.
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Rider’s foot pegs and shifter/brake levers are adjustable through 360 degrees.
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    The rear seat cowling comes off in seconds giving two-up riding, a nice touch.
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Not exactly user-friendly: Cleaning the triple’s oil filter requires complete removal of the exhaust system.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Laverda RGS 6
    Gas tank is steel, but the rest of the RGS bodywork is made from “Bayflex,” an extremely durable rubberized plastic. Koni shocks replace the original Marzocchis on this bike, and mufflers are aftermarket items from Campbell in England.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Laverda RGS 7

  • RGS Fuel Filler
    The RGS' automotive-style fuel filler is located in the fairing, leaving the top of the gas tank smooth.
    Richard Backus

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  • Laverda RGS 6
  • Laverda RGS 7
  • RGS Fuel Filler

1982-1985 Laverda RGS 1000
Total production:
2,500 (est.)
Engine: 981cc DOHC air-cooled inline triple
Top speed: 130mph (period test)
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Weight (wet): 556lb (253kg)
MPG: 35-50mpg
Miles ridden: 15,000
Oil consumption: None
Price then/now: $5,650 (1983)/$5,500-$8,500 

We tend to avoid covering our own motorcycles. Yet a steady string of requests to feature my daily rider 1983 Laverda RGS 1000 convinced us it’s a perfect candidate for The Classic Experience, where we look at the reality — warts and all — of living with a classic motorcycle. 

When I saw my first Laverda RGS some 25 years ago, I thought it was one of the most exotic motorcycles I’d ever laid eyes on. Its arrest-me-red paint screamed “Look at me!” and its unique bodywork fit like a fine Italian suit. From its solo saddle with removable tail cowling to its shaped front fairing (and its super-cool automotive-style fuel filler) that seemed an organic extension of the bike, it looked like nothing else on the road. And then there was the sound of its 3-cylinder engine, like a Lamborghini V12; throaty, muscular — simply spine tingling. It was a visual and auditory delight, and I swore that some day I’d own one.

Those kinds of self-made promises are, as most of us know, more often forgotten than fulfilled. Time, money and a never-ending parade of newly-discovered two-wheeled delights tend to distract our attention, and we move on.



Five years ago, however, I got a call from Scott Potter, a skilled mechanic with a love for all things Italian, both two-wheeled and four, and for Laverdas in particular (check out his Laverda restoration services at www.motolaverda.us). I casually mentioned my unrequited love for an RGS, and some weeks later Scott called again; a fellow Laverdisti was selling his pristine but high-mileage 1983 RGS. “I think I’ve found your RGS,” Scott said. “That’s nice,” said I, “but I don’t have any money.” “You don’t understand,” he continued, “I think I’ve found your RGS.”

Tenderly kept but enthusiastically ridden, it had some 45,000 miles on it yet looked almost perfect. The owner wasn’t interested in selling his RGS to just any squid on eBay. He didn’t want to see it flipped or go to someone who’d simply let it sit or, worse yet, abuse it. He wanted it to go to the “right” person, someone who would ride it and appreciate it, as he had for some 10 years.






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