Jota, a Spanish dance in triple time, but with an English lilt thanks to the Slater brothers who created the two-wheeled version. The Laverda Jota is the stuff of folklore, a genuine 140mph beast when nothing else was, big, heavy and yet, delicate in its manners, a real serious bikers tool that still looks awesome today.
Stuart Boulton is a 45-year-old warehouse manager with a real passion for biking, and Laverda in particular. The father of 3 is now the secretary of the Italian motorcycle owners club and has a busy garage, home to a BMW 1200GS, Moto Guzzi Tenni, HD 1200 Sportster and a brace of Laverdas.
Stuart fills in a bit of the detail, “My mate from school was the son of Leicestershire Laverda dealer, Moto Prince, so I had a longing for the breed while others where still Yamaha RD crazy. Even back then the costs were prohibitive, all of my saving went towards the bike while my dad insured it with me as a named driver, something that wouldn’t be possible today”. The first time he turned up at the local pub on, what was then, a highly desirable machine will never be forgotten by Stuart “ People flocked out of the bar to see this orange dream machine” he laughed “And few believed it was mine until I inserted the ignition key, quite a feeling at that age”. After the Jota came a CB900F engined, Moto Martin that never quite lived up to its purebred predecessor but, by then the biking lifestyle had become a difficult one for Stuart as marriage and family life beckoned.
“In 1994 a chance encounter with a drum braked 750SF led my mind to thinking about a Jota again, the SF was bought with a view to restoring it while other modern machine started to amass in my garage. It was almost a decade later before a Jota would appear. I was enjoying a 40th birthday bash in the south of France, while chatting over dinner the subject came up and it turned out that a Jota in need of some love was languishing in the UK. It had been bought new in 1980 by a private yacht captain and immediately shipped out to the Riviera as his plaything. It had since changed hands within the seafaring community but the engine had exploded. It’s quite a common fault for fuel starvation and extreme heat; allied to prolonged high speeds, to affect the middle cylinder and indeed the piston had melted causing considerable damage. A deal was struck and I took possession of the bike albeit in many pieces. Once back at my base it lay untouched for around 18 months until changes in my life allowed the time to get stuck in, the frame had been chromed at some point which didn’t look good but it was stripped and replated with a nickel finish something that I think looks superb when compared to the standard grey finish of the original machine.
The engine was shipped off to SEP in nearby Kegworth and they took good care of the internals, as well as fixing a few stripped threads in the casings using Helicoil inserts. They also rebuilt the huge roller-bearing crank and rebored all three of the cylinders while I scored the internet and Laverda suppliers for anything else I may need. Thankfully eBay yielded a mint gearbox and new forged pistons were bought from well-known Jota specialist, Phil Todd. As it started to come together I wanted to create a machine that was practical on a day-to-day basis, as well as looking like a real Jota should. John Cooper of Leicester carried out the paintwork, while Alun Rees worked tirelessly to fabricate much of the stainless steel fittings seen on the finished article. Unfortunately Alun died recently after a long illness so cant repeat this work, making my Jota a real one off. Stainless steel is also found in the front down pipes, these items having been chosen for their longevity in regular use while the original pipe work was placed on eBay fetching more than the cost of the after market items so creating a saving in the long run.
Once the rebuild was underway I had few problems, although one big mistake did cost me dearly. The head had been bead blasted and I hadn’t cleaned them thoroughly enough so at the first turn of the starter button one of the valve buckets stuck down. This bent two valves and needed the top end stripping once again, thankfully an old school friend, Stuart Coney, was often on hand to help out, quite literally, I couldn’t have done the work without him.
Because the bike had been permanently taken out of the UK I did encounter some difficulty getting it back in again. DVLA were helpful but it wasn’t easy even with the help of the Italian Motorcycle owners club who provided dating information etc. one unexpected result of the registration process came about due to the second owner never bothering to register the Laverda in his name making mine only the second name on the log book. Once fully road legal, it soon became apparent that the front end needed some further attention, the fork springs were tired, while the beefy Brembo cast iron discs had warped. A new set of rotors, and a pair of Progressive springs imported from Germany, soon had it feeling like new again and, since then the Jota been a trouble free machine to own and enjoy.”
The Italian motorcycle owners club (GB)
The International Laverda owners club
SEP Kegworth tel 01509 673295
Motalia Laverda Spares tel 08707 664152
Slater Brothers tel 01885 410254
1980 Laverda Jota Specifications
- Price paid: £2000
- Value now (est): £7250-8000
- Power: 90bhp
- Torque: 54ft-lb
- Top speed 140mph
- Dry weight: 238kg
- Colours: Orange
- Fuel: 20 litres
- Rake/trail: 28deg/115mm
- Seat height: 830mm
- Wheelbase: 1486mm
- Engine: air-cooled 981cc ( 75 x 74mm), 4-stroke, DOHC, triple. 3 x 32mm Dell’Orto carbs. 5 gears. Chain final drive
- Chassis: Tubular steel twin cradle frame, 38mm non-adjustable telescopic forks, twin oil-damped rear shocks with adjustable preload
- Brakes: 280mm front discs with twin-opposed piston Brembo calipers, 280mm single disc, twin-opposed piston Brembo caliper
- Tyres: 100/90 x 18 front, 120/90 x 18 rear
- Try not to cut corners in any way as the end result will let down the whole project
- If any parts have been bead blasted do not stop in the pursuit of cleanliness afterwards
- Clubs and online forums are invaluable when it comes to never ending help and assistance
- Never underestimate costs as they usually overrun the first assessment
- Be polite when dealing with the DVLA, they can make the difference between a smooth registration process and an arduous one, especially if your bike has been off the register for some time.
Laverda Jota Restoration Gallery