Laverda have a long history of producing great machines but two of their finest have origins in the UK, the 500cc Montjuic and the 1000cc Jota being products of the Slater brothers and their involvement in production racing during the 70’s and 80’s. We catch up with one man who shares this passion having restored many a Laverda over the last 20 years or so
Mike Waugh is a long time Laverda expert, and often the first port of call for anyone interested in running any of the marques products. Based in Grimsby, by day he works for a shipping company birthing cargo vessels, commuting most days on either a Honda 400/4 or 650 Laverda sport. In his spare time he also runs Montydons, specialising in all manner of things Laverda, from servicing to restoration work. His garage is home to many a machine and currently on the bench is a space framed, monoshock, Laverda 500 race bike. He has owned, ridden and raced most models of the breed and few, if any, surpass his knowledge on the subject.
The Montjuic was bought in January 1998 as a runner of sorts. The most important thing was that, although a little tatty around the edges, it was all there and totally original, showing just 5427 miles which later turned out to be genuine. The story goes that the seller had his mate serviced it and after that it never ran properly again.
A few days after the sale I tried to start the bike, it was awful, blue flames from the exhausts and lots of backfiring. Turned out, after I checked it over, that his mate had removed the coils and fitted them the wrong way round so it was firing 180 degrees out. A quick swap round of the coils and it ran as it should and sounded really good with no rattles or suspicious noises coming from the engine. As I was so busy running the business and working shifts, I completely stripped the bike, boxed it up and stored it in the loft until January 2007. With the Mallory Park festival 1000 bikes booked in for July, I had organised a one off Montjuic parade and promised this Mk1 Montjuic to Brian Crichton of Classic Bike magazine to ride in the parade. This commitment spurred me on to build the bike, knowing that nothing was missing and everything had been stored ready for refurbishment. The main criteria for this bike was not only to rebuild it cosmetically, but also as near to the specification it would have left the factory in, the latter being helped greatly as it even had the original carburettor inlet stubs which are now totally unobtainable. The only parts that were beyond repair were the battery holder but this was no problem as it is a standard 500 Alpino fitment so relatively common.
The other problem was the complete exhaust system was rotten. Luckily I had a brand new, original Sito exhaust system on the shelf, I had purchased this in the late 80s and kept it dry stored so this rare item was still in as new condition. The cylinder head, barrels and crankcases were bead blasted with glass bead, which gives that original finish to the sand cast items, and a satin finish to the crankcases. There was no wear on any of the internal engine components, the cylinder bores still had the honing marks, and confirmed the low mileage to be believable. The only new parts were fitted were the exhaust valves, choosing to fit higher specification items that I have had produced for my race engines and customers machines. These valves have hardened seats and will run with super unleaded with an additive (Millers V.S.P etc) without any valve burning issues. The Montjuic will not run crisp on anything less than 98-octane so with the super unleaded and an additive this gives the equivalent rating so all is well.
The frame and cycle parts were powder coated in gloss black and parts like the yokes were finished in satin black whilst the bright work was either chrome plated or bright zinc finished. One point to watch is the swing arm bushes, these are fragile rubber Isolastic bushes and are always trashed upon removal, sadly these parts are no longer available. With the bushes still in the swing arm it cant be powder coated because of the high oven temperatures so this I stripped and re finished this with gloss black aerosol paint. With all the parts refurbished and the engine rebuilt it was time to rebuild. I have found it best with the help of an assistant to offer the frame to the engine, which is supported on its side. It is such a tight fit that this is the only way to avoid scratches to the frame and trying to manhandle the engine.
Once the engine is in the frame and onto stands, the rest was straightforward. The Montjuic is a pretty basic bike to work on with minimalist parts and hardly any bright work such as chrome mudguards, brackets, indicators etc. After trial and error I eventually found a flat silver paint, which matches exactly the factory finish on the wheels, cush drive and rear calliper carrier. The only non-standard parts fitted are the stainless fasteners throughout and the Koni dial a-ride shocks. I have the original Marzocchi rear shocks in storage, as they are rock hard for road use, so bad in fact that even small bumps in the road can have you out of the seat. The Konis make the world of difference and allow the bike to be ridden in relative comfort.
The bike was finished on the 26th June 2007 and started 2nd stab of the starter. This then gave me time to run the bike in for 200 miles and check everything before letting Brian Crichton loose on it. The fruits of building one of these bikes is that when ridden you are in a classic race all of your own, every time you take it out. There never was, or ever will be, such an outrageous, production built, motorcycle that can be ridden legally on our roads; the racing crouch, colour, induction noise from the open carbs, and that glorious virtually unsilenced exhaust, make it all worthwhile.
The total cost of the rebuild from start to finish was £3027, and, as it is one of the nicest and completely original ones around, worth every penny in my book. According to my records, there are roughly 97 of these bikes left it makes them extremely rare and collectable. Parts such as S.1 cams, high comp pistons, rear sets and exhausts have long gone but fortunately after suggesting that customer and owners of these bikes get together and to re-make parts, small batches of pistons, cams and exact replica exhausts have been made which helps to keep the bikes original and repairable.
1980 Laverda Montjuic Mk1 Specifications
- Power: 50bhp
- Torque: 38ft-lb
- Top speed 106mph
- Dry weight: 179kg
- Colours: Orange
- Fuel: 14litres
- Rake/trail: 26.5/114mm
- Seat height: 736mm
- Wheelbase: 1422mm
- Engine: air-cooled 496.7cc (72×61 mm), twin four-stroke. 2 x 32mm Dell’Orto carbs. Six gears. Wet clutch, Chain final drive
- Chassis: Tubular steel single down tube frame, 35mm non-adjustable telescopic forks, twin oil-damped rear shocks with adjustable preload
- Brakes: 2 x 254mm front discs with 2-piston Brembo caliper, 254mm disc with 2- piston Brembo caliper Tyres: 100/90 x 18 front, 110/90 x 18 rear
- Watch out for Alpino models fitted with Montjuic bodywork and being sold as a genuine Montjuic.
- Before buying insist on cam cover removal and check cams are stamped S.1.If they are stamped 9 or 14 they are lower tuned Alpino items. Also check condition of cam lobes and valve clearances.
- Barn finds are rare now but if you do find one, make sure it is all there.
- Make the effort to remove the complete exhaust system to access the oil strainer and clean. This is often neglected.
- Remove fuel tank and check the mainframe down tube from headstock to seat as this is the first part that is damaged in an accident and shows as a hump in the middle of the tube.
- Obtain a workshop manual and a parts book as this helps when ordering spare parts.
- Try to keep the bike as original as possible including fitting the bikini fairing as this will make the bike more valuable
- Join the Laverda owners club, as it is full of enthusiasts and information.
- Take plenty of data/photos before stripping, paying particular attention to cam timing marks
- If bead blasting the engine cases, make absolutely sure they are thoroughly cleaned before assembly. The engine will be reduced to scrap if you don’t.
Laverda Monjuic Mk1 Gallery