LAVERDA SPE­CIAL

Terry Wood bought this Laverda con­coc­tion, a Mirage 1200cc mo­tor in a 3C frame, as a ne­glected non-run­ner and put it back on the road for a bar­gain price. Sounds good? Oh yes...

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS GEZ KANE. PHO­TOG­RA­PHY CHIPPY WOOD

Take one 3C, stir-in a hefty por­tion of Mirage 1200, et voilà: a bril­liant bar­gain-price big Lav

Blast­ing through the south Lin­colnshire coun­try­side on a pleas­ingly warm spring morn­ing, I’m a happy man. The bel­low of a big Laverda triple is the sound­track to my de­light­fully aim­less progress and it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter that, rather than a top-of-the-range Jota or a cat­a­logue-cor­rect Mirage, the bike is a spe­cial – a 1200cc Mirage en­gine in a 3C rolling chas­sis.

I’d say that owner Terry Wood has got him­self a bit of a bar­gain here. With prices for Jo­tas reg­u­larly run­ning over £15,000, Mi­rages mak­ing up to £10,000 and good 3Cs com­mand­ing up­wards of £10,000, Terry’s val­u­a­tion of the bike at “around £8000” seems like good value. I sus­pect he’s added a lit­tle value to his ini­tial out­lay dur­ing the course of his own­er­ship, too.

Let’s face it, you don’t ride the log­book, and Terry’s Laverda is won­der­ful to ride re­gard­less of its prove­nance. For a start, there’s that big, de­cep­tively fast 1115cc three-cylin­der lump. It’s a proper lump, too – tall, im­pos­ing and cer­tainly no light­weight. Yet it pumps out buck­et­fuls of torque and has a midrange like a steam en­gine. Like the Jota, the Mirage was cooked up by Bri­tish Laverda importers, the Slater Broth­ers, and was launched in 1978. Es­sen­tially, it was Laverda’s 1200 ‘tour­ing’ model, en­livened by Jota cams and ex­haust. The re­sult was a stron­grun­ning half­way house be­tween the fast and fre­netic Jota and the milder-man­nered 1200 – a com­pro­mise that’s close to ideal.

On the road, this Mirage-en­gined spe­cial doesn’t feel that fast, at first. But a glance down at the speedome­ter soon has me re­cal­i­brat­ing my brain. The ex­haust note, deeper and softer than a Jota’s – a sound fur­ther calmed by the baf­fles for the (largely va­cant) Jota ‘si­lencers’ that Terry has fab­ri­cated – fools me into think­ing that the en­gine isn’t work­ing that hard, while the 3C rolling chas­sis feels re­laxed and com­pli­ant de­spite hav­ing firmer sus­pen­sion than the later Mirage set-up. The gearchange is quick and pos­i­tive – not

that I need to use it much once the bike is bowl­ing along in top gear, and at any­thing over 3000rpm the ac­cel­er­a­tion is sen­sa­tional when I snap the throt­tle open. It’s a de­cep­tively quick bike.

It’s also a bike I feel I could hap­pily cover some se­ri­ous miles on. Laverda triples aren’t the dain­ti­est of things – but then nei­ther am I, and there’s bags of room for a sub­stan­tial cit­i­zen like my­self to spread out. The frame is as spa­cious as it is rigid, with a gen­er­ous 57.5in wheel­base fur­ther aid­ing sta­bil­ity. Fast, sweep­ing and prefer­ably well-sur­faced bends are where the Laverda re­ally ex­cels. The Brembo front calipers and 280mm brake discs are (just) up to haul­ing the big Laverda up – as long as I re­mem­ber that they need a hefty squeeze and plan ahead ac­cord­ingly. But there’s no doubt it’s the su­per-torquey en­gine that’s the star of the show. Terry’s done all right with this one.

Terry agrees that his triple was a pretty de­cent bar­gain when he bought it three years ago. “I was look­ing for a project when this turned up,” ex­plains the marine en­gi­neer. “I’d never owned a Laverda, but I re­mem­ber they were the bike to have when I was run­ning a Kawasaki Z1 back in the ’70s. I didn’t want a Ja­pa­nese bike and this was at the right price. The owner had died and the bike hadn’t been fired up for years. When I got it home, I got it to run – just – with some fresh fuel and a new bat­tery, but it sounded pretty rough and I couldn’t get fifth gear. De­spite that, though, I think I got a pretty good deal.”

Terry dropped the en­gine out and stripped the rest of the bike com­pletely. “When I looked at the en­gine more closely, it didn’t seem too bad – apart from the gear se­lec­tion prob­lem,” he re­calls. “When I looked into that, it turned out to be the se­lec­tor mech­a­nism. It had been set up as shown in the workshop man­ual, but it just wasn’t se­lect­ing prop­erly. I had to ad­just it to the ‘wrong’ po­si­tion to get it to work. I checked the top-end to en­sure it had the cor­rect 4C cams and gave it a good ser­vice, but that was about it apart from clean­ing and pol­ish­ing the cases.”

Terry got just as lucky with the frame. “It cleaned up re­ally well,” he con­firms. “What’s more, I dis­cov­ered that it had a braced swingarm made by Laverda spe­cial­ist and racer Roger Win­ter­burn – a nice pe­riod up­grade. The ex­haust was in good shape, too, and only needed a thor­ough clean and pol­ish, apart from fab­ri­cat­ing the re­mov­able baf­fles – Jota si­lencers are a bit on the loud side.”

It was a dif­fer­ent story with the wheels, though. “The bike had a Laverda cast al­loy front wheel and an al­loy CMA at the rear,” he ex­plains. “I wanted spoked

‘WHEN I LOOKED AT THE EN­GINE, IT DIDN’T SEEM TOO BAD’

‘THE BRACED SWINGARM BY LAVERDA SPE­CIAL­IST AND RACER ROGER WIN­TER­BURN IS A NICE PE­RIOD UP­GRADE’

wheels any­way, so I tracked down a pair of orig­i­nal Laverda hubs in Ger­many, pol­ished them up my­self and got Cen­tral Wheel Com­po­nents (cen­tral-wheel.co.uk) to lace them up into al­loy rims. I had to ma­chine a stain­less-steel spacer to get the wheel align­ment right in the stan­dard forks. I think the wheels were the most ex­pen­sive part of the re­fur­bish­ment – they cost about £1200 to buy and build, but I think they re­ally make the bike.”

Good, orig­i­nal 3C parts on the bike in­cluded the 35mm forks and the 200mm Bosch head­lamp only used on early bikes be­fore Laverda changed to a 180mm unit. But the paint­work was fairly tired look­ing when Terry picked up the bike, so he de­cided on a re­spray. “I took the tank to Bark­ston Coach­works in Gran­tham for the paint­work, but when I got the tank blasted, I found the re­cesses for the cor­rect [for the 3C] round tank badges had been filled in and long Laverda badges fit­ted,” he says. “I wanted to go back to the smaller, round badges, but they were re­ally hard to find, so I made a pair my­self – but when these gen­uine ones turned up on ebay a few weeks back, I fit­ted them.”

The sin­gle seat came with the bike, but Terry has a self-made dual seat on standby. He’s also ti­died up the electrics, fit­ted Dyna ig­ni­tion coils and a pair of re­pro­duc­tion clock faces, and ma­chined up var­i­ous spac­ers and other bits and pieces. Over­all, it’s been more of a tidy-up than a full-on resto, ac­cord­ing to Terry.

There’s no doubt­ing he has cre­ated a fab­u­lous ma­chine to ride. It looks the part, sounds a treat and goes like, well, a Mirage – and all for con­sid­er­ably less cash than the ‘real thing’. Who needs a Jota?

It cost sev­eral grand less than you’d have to pay for a 3C or a Mirage, but pro­vides full­price Laverda triple en­ter­tain­ment

To the un­trained eye, it looks like a reg­u­lar old ex­am­ple of Bre­ganze bee­fi­ness

Apart from a gear se­lec­tion is­sue, the 1200cc triple was sound

Brembo front brakes need a firm hand

Orig­i­nal 3C Bosch head­lamp came with the bike

Terry’s added ear-friendly baf­fles to the Jota si­lencers Terry with the bike – the first Laverda he’s ever owned Re­pro­duc­tion clock faces were sourced on the in­ter­net This big bike is de­cep­tively fast on the road, with a mas­sive midrange

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