The 1960s was a decade of extremely mixed fortunes for Moto Laverda. After the tremendous growth and success the company enjoyed in the 1950s, it entered the sixties with an indifferent product range which failed to capture the showroom successes of the original 75cc and 100cc machines.
LOOKING FOR SUCCESS
Desperate to share the success enjoyed by Lambretta and Vespa, the company had embarked on a flawed mission to create a range of mini scooters of 48cc and 59cc capacity. Despite being built with the customary Laverda attention to detail and quality, the machines were too late into the market to compete with established scooter brands, particularly as these competitors enjoyed significant marketing support provided by manufacturing giants Innocenti and Piaggio.
In 1961 the company gave its first clue that it might have its eye on a different sector of the bike market when it launched its well-received Bicilindrico 200. Although never a major success, the model found favour in certain specialist markets such as municipal authorities and continued in production for 14 years, making it one of Laverda’s longest running models.
In 1964 the Laverdino name made a comeback and also marked Laverda’s first effort at manufacturing a two stroke. The 49cc model proved a popular lightweight in its native Italy and despite its incredibly low price [equivalent to about £30!] it was typically Laverda; well-engineered and reliable.
The “Massimo” Era
In 1965 the Laverda catalogue offered a new model range which was to herald the dawn of the ‘Massimo’ era in Laverda history. The 125cc Sport and Trail bikes were significant in that they were the first models which can be attributed entirely to Moto Laverda’s new 25 year old General Manager.
Massimo Laverda had conceived the idea that an eighth-litre model was desirable for the company’s product range and had personally overseen all aspects of the model’s design and development. The machine featured a torquey 125cc horizontal pushrod single, very much in the style of the Aermacchi singles which were making their mark in export markets. A 150cc version was built for the US market and although the model was only modestly successful, it sent out a clear signal that Laverda was observing market trends closely. The company also made a comeback into the sporting arena with its Regolarita Corsa version of the Trail model bringing notable successes in ISDT events.
THE MOVE TO LARGE CAPACITY BIKES
In 1968 the company launched a model which has since become synonymous with the marque; the 650/750c vertical OHC twin. It also stands as testimony to Massimo Laverda’s astute recognition that motorcycling was evolving into a leisure pursuit instead of merely a form of cheap transportation.
With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that this model’s entry into the market was timed to perfection, but at the time it must have represented a huge gamble for a relatively small motorcycle manufacturer from Northern Italy. Suffice to say that this model won over the hearts and minds of enthusiasts from around the world and led to numerous high profile competition successes in endurance racing. The Laverda 750S and its subsequent evolution into the iconic SFC immortalised the name Laverda across the globe. Many Laverda enthusiasts cite the 750 twin as the company’s finest hour and it certainly defines the 1960s as the most pivotal period in the creation of the Laverda legend.
As the sixties drew to a close the company engineers were hard at work creating the next stage of the legend – the 1000cc triple.