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.