The Laverda triples are among the most desirable of all the 70s superbikes. The Breganza battleships really captured the imagination of the biking fraternity with their heady mix of power handling and looks, but it was in the UK where the breed was more highly developed. The Jota started life in the Uk and so did one off shoot of that design, the Cropredy Liberator.
From the moment you press the starter button, you know this is one special machine. Laverda triples always vibrate with the engine spinning, even at tick over it’s a potentially filling loosening experience, but not with this bike, it feels more akin to a Jap multi than anything that ever left the Breganza factory during the 70s and early 80s. The engine bursts into life, and quickly settles into an even rhythm, so it’s a case of cocking a leg over the tall seat, albeit 25mm lower than a standard Jota, and get ready for the off. Once in gear, the Liberator informs you, via the grabbing clutch, that it doesn’t want to be hanging about much longer, in fact once in gear its pretty near impossible to get it back into neutral without a little speed to get the gearbox moving around.
Nothing more to it then but add some revs into the equation, and get this big machine on the move, before it finds something else to be unhappy about. Riding the Liberator is a full on experience, no matter the speed you choose to go at, with hardly a moment to relax and take your eye off the boil. Trying to corner without large amounts of throttle applied, is a real challenge as this brute of a bike needs to be told where to go, and the engine helps greatly in this process, shoving the front end around neatly, and tightening the chassis up nicely too.
At low speeds, the open Dell’Orto carburetors, bored out to 36mm from 32mm by Cropredy Motorcycles, spit and cough, making pottering around a none starter, even cruising around at a constant pace for the pictures proved tricky as the big triple is willing to go at the merest hint of throttle. The heat soon builds up and finds its way up out of the fairing and into your leathers, so speed is essential to keep all on board something like cool. A quick action, Tomasselli, throttle helps the engine get as much fuel in as short a time possible, as it can possibly burn, but also makes the machine a bit nervous at slow speeds, of course small inputs through the twist grip soon has the speeds building well into treble figures. When it is going, the ride is breathtaking, absorbing all of your attention, especially when the road meanders, as this is one machine that takes some moving about.
The exhaust note booms out aloud, assaulting the senses at all times, and really threatening to remove the facility to hear completely when passing nearby buildings, the Italian tenor reverberating off walls and any other vertical surfaces to great effect. Its hard, if not impossible, not to become a hooligan when riding this machine, it can never be quiet, even at tick over the booming triple makes its presence known to all around. The hefty fairings, neatly fabricated, and following the lithe chassis faithfully, do go some way to damping down the mechanical noise, which can be considerable on any Laverda, but they can do nothing about the lovely sound of the two exhaust outlets, pure music for a bike fan, but annoying for those not actually taking part in the fun.
Any Laverda triple is a heavy beast, but adding a full set of clothes only serves to make this even more so, the Liberator tipping the scales around 22 pounds more than a standard 1200 Mirage, a strong hand, and an iron will, is needed to tame this machine. It is hard work on anything other than the open road and, even then, its hard work, just slightly less so. Thankfully the work done to the engine gives a useful spread of power from as low down as 2000rpm, and once another 1000 revs have been added the engine starts to make perfect sense, truly feeling like a liberated Mirage. There is a great need to match the road speed to that of the engine at all times, this is one machine that wont gladly suffer a mishandled gear change, either up or down the box, but get it right and the feeling of the constant rush of power is highly addictive.
With a clear road ahead the full extent of the engine can be enjoyed, the redline is a heady 9000rpm, which in top gear will return a tad over 145mph, and most likely a prison sentence if that speed is confirmed by the local constabulary. Even so it’s a great feeling having that kind of muscle to hand, and, at speed, the fairing comes into its own as well, relieving most of the wind pressure and creating a bubble from which you can view the proceedings.
Eddie Griffiths and Gareth Jones were the men behind Oxfordshire based Cropredy motorcycles. They found that most Laverda’s left the factory in a poor state of tune, sometimes with as little as 63bhp on tap at the rear wheel, some 30 plus shy of the figure claimed in the brochures. By carefully setting up each machine that passed through their hands, they found the missing power, and with it created a name for the business as fine fettlers of the Breganza brand. The Liberator package was available in either the full version, costing around £1250 more than a standard Laverda of the day, or just the cosmetic and engine modifications fitted separately. The extra expense was totally justified when you consider that the work they were undertaking in the engine department alone was identical to setting up a highly tuned race bike, the setting up and fettling taking up many hours of toil and much expertise in cam timing, cylinder head and porting design. The end result was supposed to be a smoother and easier to ride triple with healthy increase in power in the process, and in many respects that is what the Liberator achieves, albeit louder, and more aggressive once the wick is turned up a shade.
The Liberator was inspired by an Italian development of the original 3C, the Brettoni 1000 of 1974 was built under the watchful eye of the factory works rider Augusto Brettoni, and featured a different tank, seat and full fairing very much along the lines of the Liberator. When the Cropredy team undertook their own special version of the triples they soon realized that, despite there being many fairing companies at the time operating in the UK, to get the quality required for the bodywork they too would have to turn to Italy, they employed the same manufacturer that Brettoni use, a man known only as Chico, to make the fiberglass parts, not only did they fit very well but the quality was, and still is excellent.
Cropredy Liberator Specifications
- Engine – Air cooled, four stroke, transverse three cylinder, DOHC, 2 valve per cylinder
- Capacity – 1115.8
- Bore & stroke – 80 x 74 mm
- Compression Ratio – 8.0:1
- Carburetion – 3 x 36mm Dell’Orto
- Max Power – 100bhp @ 7500 rpm
- Torque – 58ft-lbs @ 6000rpm
- Ignition Bosch – CDI
- Transmission – 5-Speed wet clutch chain final drive
- Frame – steel twin loop
- Suspension – 38mm Marzocchi forks, twin Marzocchi dampers adjustable for preload
- Wheels – 110/70 x 18, 130/70 x 18
- Brakes – 2 x 280mm discs 2 piston Brembo calipers. Single 280mm disc 2 piston Brembo caliper
- Wheelbase – 1549mm
- Weight – 252kgs
- Fuel capacity – 19.5ltrs
- Top speed – 145mph
Laverda Cropredy Liberator Gallery
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