1983 Laverda RGS 1000

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Motorcycle Classics editor-in-chief Richard Backus' 1983 Laverda RGS 1000.
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The RGS’ 3-cylinder engine is a bit buried.
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Rider’s foot pegs and shifter/brake levers are adjustable through 360 degrees.
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The rear seat cowling comes off in seconds giving two-up riding, a nice touch.
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Not exactly user-friendly: Cleaning the triple’s oil filter requires complete removal of the exhaust system.
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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.
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The RGS' automotive-style fuel filler is located in the fairing, leaving the top of the gas tank smooth.

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.

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