Passion & Practicality – High miler Laverda 3C

In Australia Laverda motorcycles are rare, customised Laverdas are even rarer, and customised Laverdas that are ridden on a regular basis are almost unheard of. Today’s bike falls into the last of these categories, an Italian beauty that’s not afraid to put miles under it’s tyres, and it comes in the form of Marty’s 1974 Laverda 3C. After twenty years ownership (including three as an everyday rider), and showing no fear in riding it on a regular basis, this bike shows that you can have something special as your daily transport. It helps to have bitchin’ mechanical skills as well.

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The heart of this machine is the one litre engine the 3C left the factory with, although much modified by now. The cylinder head has been worked, now sporting steeper angles for the inlet and exhaust ports, while nestled in the head sit a pair of custom cams. A set of Keihin carbs from a Honda have replaced the factory setup, the airbox a custom job to work between the Jap and Italian engineering. An IIS ignition sytem brings the spark, Ross racing pistons bring the noise, and a larger capacity oil pump helps stop the engine from blowing itself to pieces. With the engine now running at 12:1 compression, octane booster is utilised to stop pinging. At the exhaust end of business the silencers are stock units, with personalised touches in the form of slight bruising from having to put the bike down at speed.

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The ability to stop and handle is as important as the ability to go fast, something that hasn’t been neglected on the Laverda. The stoppers on the front end are Ducati full floating discs, with Brembo four pot calipers doing the clamping. Marzocchi is the choice for the front forks, the original Ceriani ones being given the flick, and a Tarozzi forkbrace fitted. Sitting in the forks are cartridge emulators, to boost the performance of the damping rod system, and 5w oil. At the back end sit Koni Dial-A-Rides, also fitted with cartridge emulators. To maintain a façade of a factory looking bike, the original Borrani wire alloys have stayed on the bike.

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In the looks department, the bike stands out too. And not just because the Laverda’s Marmalade paintwork is retinally searing. A Ducati SSD front fairing envelopes the front end, hiding the 38mm Ducati clip-ons in it’s super brightness. The front guard comes courtesy of a Laverda SFC, and the factory rear guard has been retained, although it has lost 8 inches of it’s length. Due to Marty’s tall height, and an injury from an off he had a while ago, the rear sets are an inhouse arrangement. A set of ground down spanners, flanked by Tarozzi pegs, make for a custom heel-toe gearchange, allowing for a better riding position for the big man.

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Marty is a guy who knows what he likes, and two decades of ownership have allowed him to customise the bright orange machine to exactly how he wants it. This bike doesn’t just cover road miles, with it doing a year in post classic historic racing, it’s failure to get podium positions being described by Marty as ‘fast bike, slow rider’. The miles it does on the open road is no small figure either, with the bike doing a yearly trip throughout the Australian Alps, on top of the interesting bike routes dotted around Sydney. A fast bike, albeit with a ‘slow rider’, this Laverda has so much passion and time put into it by the doting owner, that you can see why it is still going strong. It does pretty damn well to go against the idea that a Laverda can’t be an everyday bike.

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