Tuesday 27 August 2013

Laverda 1000 V6 - The World's Fastest Laboratory

Laverda V6 Motorcycle
Image Courtesy Cor Dees Laverda Museum

As I’ve said on Silodrome before, if you want a quick ticket into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame (in the hearts and minds of motorcycle aficionados, anyway) you must build a six-cylinder machine. Nothing is quite as technologically impressive and magnificently superfluous as stuffing far more cylinders than are necessary to do the job into a contraption that is far too small to properly accommodate them. You can easily attain the power you need with a far simpler and lighter four. But fours have become so boring, so conventional, and hardly meriting of the breathless praise of us enthusiasts/bloggers.

Most people are familiar with the Honda CBX1000, and perhaps the Benelli Sei that preceded it as the first six-cylinder production machine. These flagship models book ended the 1970s, a heady time when progress in motorcycle design began to accelerate towards modernity with a series of impressively over-engineered rides that would become the genesis of a new era of performance and complexity. Where the automotive world was mired in the malaise of the gas crisis and smog controls, development in the motorcycle industry was fast and progress was being made in leaps and bounds, spurred on by the quality and innovation shown by the Japanese manufacturers who set about obliterating the old marques on the street and track.

Laverda V6 Motorcycle Engine
Image Courtesy Cor Dees Laverda Museum
It was during this heyday, in the period between the Sei and the CBX, that a well-respected Italian marque came up with the hare brained idea of hiring an automotive engineer to design an advanced V-6 engine that would blow away the competition on the track and offer the tantalizing possibility of being slotted into one of the most powerful and exclusive road bikes the world had seen up to that point.
This week, I present the legendary Laverda V6, the only vee-six powered motorcycle, and one of the most notable machines to roll out of the Breganze works.

Laverda V6 Racer
Image Courtesy Motorrad Classic

Giovanni Laverda racing the V6
Image Courtesy Laverda Corse


  1. Did you see this Kawasaki V 12 at the Barber Museum?

    1. Yep, also saw his Kawa V8 there as well. http://motorcyclephotooftheday.com/2011/08/05/close-ups-of-the-outrageous-allen-millyard-custom-v8-kawasaki-kz/

  2. Michele Cuoccio12/04/2014, 10:59

    Another excellent article. Just some adds. I remember an article on the Italian "MotoCapital" magazine, 1991, with the original V6 tested by Cathcart and with the replica supposedly intended to be sold in limited series. The Zanini management had other projects in their mind. The V6 was supposed to be the basis for a new series of bikes - they wanted to place the engine in transverse position (with final chain drive) to make a sport-touring bike. Also, they wanted to use just one bank to make a mid-displacement triple. All in their minds - nothing came out in reality.

    In the reality, the only fruits of the Zanini period (1989- 1993 if i'm not wrong) were very poor - the Gaucho 50, a revised version of the Atlas 50, and the Navarro 125, a questionable patchwork with old Laverda frame updated with Cagiva engine and a whale-inspired fairing, designed by Jamel Mecheri, a French designer (French designers strike again...). On Italian fora, the Navarro is still considered as one of the ugliest bikes ever made, even with very few built.

    Ah, forgot the Hidalgo 668 cruiser (nicely designed) and the El Cid 700 enduro, not bad but remained as incomplete prototypes.

  3. beautiful bike, how many were actually built?