The Laverda 1000 3C Triple

Massimo's masterpiece

| July/August 2007

Laverda 1000 3C Triple
Years produced:
Total production: 2,300 (approx.)
Claimed power: 85hp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 133mph (est.)
Engine type: 981cc overhead cam, air-cooled inline triple
Weight (dry, est.): 225kg (495lb)
Price then: $3,900
Price now: $4,000-$8,000 
MPG: 38 (period test)

From our 21st century perspective, it’s easy to forget that liter-class, multi-cylinder sportbikes like the Laverda 1000 3C Triple haven’t always been around. Before Soichiro Honda changed the rules in 1969 with his SOHC Honda CB750 Four, twins ruled the road. Kawasaki, with a SOHC 750 four of its own in the wings, was forced to up the ante with a DOHC 900 — the “New York Steak” Kawasaki Z1 — when Honda released the CB. Meanwhile, in the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy ...

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” That quote, often attributed to German poet Johann von Goethe, could easily apply to Massimo Laverda. As functional head of Italian agricultural equipment-maker Laverda’s motorcycle division, Massimo’s bold and innovative approach to motorcycle design created some of the most distinctive and desirable motorcycles ever made — though whether the company’s boutique bike division ever made any money is doubtful. How very Italian!

Twins first, triples second
Though most Italian makers built small-capacity bikes, Massimo, who attended college in the U.S. and studied the motorcycle market carefully, knew that to capture the buying public’s attention he needed to compete against the big British twins on power and the Japanese on technology.

Those dual goals led to the Laverda 650cc twin of 1968, which was almost immediately upsized to 750cc.

But within a year of its U.S. introduction, the 750 was made obsolete by the Honda 750 Four. It wasn’t Laverda’s fault, and plenty of bike makers’ ranges were embarrassed by Honda’s bombshell. But back at Laverda headquarters in Breganze, Massimo, together with chief designer Luciano Zen, was already working on Laverda’s next model. Laverda’s masterstroke was to anticipate that 1,000cc would become the capacity benchmark, a move that allowed the small Italian firm to compete with larger factories throughout the Seventies.

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