Laverda LB 125 Sport

 

 

 

Make Model

Laverda LB 125 Sport

Year

1985

Engine

Two stroke, single cylinder

Capacity

124 cc / 7.6 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 64 x 51mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression Ratio 14.0:1

Induction

Dell'Orto premix carburetor

Ignition 

CDI
Starting Kick

Max Power

23 hp / 16.8 kW @ 9200 rpm

Transmission  /  Drive

7 Speed 
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

Telescopic forks

Rear Suspension

Alloy swing arm, single shock with adjustable damping.

Front Brakes

2x 260mm discs 2 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 160mm drum

Front Tyre

100/80-16

Rear Tyre

130/70-17

Dry Weight

129 kg / 284 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

14 Litres / 3.7 US gal

Bike magazine review1984

EVERYONE KNOWS the Italians have both extremely expensive tastes and a totally disproportionate sense of national pride. There's no point pointing out the peeling chrome, lumpy paint and crappy electrics of a recent vintage Wop scoot to the bloke who built it because he'll only shrug: 'Wassamatter? It's-a Eetalian, it's-a very good. (Shut up-a your face, British philistine).'

You want more, you pay more. You no want-a to pay, you buy Japanese. End of statement. It's a problem which has long faced anyone except, please excuse me for using the word, scooter riders who want to ride Italian but haven't the cash or full licence needed for a big Guzzi or whatever. Looking at the ^range of learner-Jegal 125s in this country you never guess that Italy has a thriving and fiercely competitive 125 industry. The two Cagiva 125s we've tested recently only gave the impression that Latin learners are still putting up with stone age engineering and quality control.

Sadly, the reason we don't see many alternatives to Jap learner bikes in this country is the old one of uncompetitive price. While young Claudio willingly shells out nearly £1500 for his hotshot Gilera 125 even though it's more expensive than Honda's similar MBX, it won't work here.

But behind the limelight currently falling on the fast, 16in-front-wheel monoshock Gilera RV125 all over Italy at the moment is the story of good old Laverda's biggest success to date. Yes, not the Jota or the Corsa but a humble 125 which took off so fast a couple of years back that production of the big triples was delayed while the small Breganze factory frantically stepped up output to cope.

At over £1100 in Italy, it wasn't surprising that none were imported into the UK although the original, all fire engine red, version looked amazingly like a real RGS triple. Recently, though, a single 125 Sport found its way to London Latin-lovers Moto Vecchia thanks to a wandering Aussie who bought it in Florence, rode it to London and parted with it for the price
of an air ticket from Sidney to Adelaide when he became homesick. Money doesn't mean a thing to some people Unfortunately it's not an original all-red version but wears the new kind of flashy, contrasting paintscheme apparently demanded by Italian teenagers. It's still pretty smart, with its svelte handlebar fairing, RGS-style tank and removeable tailpiece over the passenger seat. A pity the guy who bought it and rode it over fitted an aftermarket exhaust which didn't allow retention of the standard bike's belly pan.

Wheeling it out of the shop, I could see why the 125 isn't cheap. Inside the fairing is a neat instrument pod with Japanese clocks flanking home-grown warning lights. Switches on the meaty clip on bars are well above old Italian standards as is the overall
finish and fit of the plastic bodywork sections.

Okay, so even the Cagivas passed that test — but there was never mistaking their noisy, vibratory motors for anything fit for the 1980s. Pressing the choke lever on the Lav's 28mm Dellorto carb and prodding the lever was very different. Even with the cheapo spanny fitted, it fired first kick and quickly settled down to a smooth, quiet tickover once the watercooled motor warmed up a little.

The motor used to be all Zundapp until Laverda began making their own heads and barrels. Now the Zundapp bottom end and gearbox have been replaced by Laverda's own stuff. First thing you notice is the massive barrel which looks like an aircooled 350 rather than a liquid cooled 125. Dunno whether that's a legacy from the Zundapp days or whether it follows from Massimo Laverda's 'make it big' policy: it's sure smooth and quiet.

But then the whole machine has a big, solid feel too it. Forks are 32mm Marzocchis, wheels are cast, ten-spoke alloy 18in jobs and a 260mm (10.2in) Brembo disc provides plenty of stop quotient up front. With a 54in wheelbase, 30in seat height and dry weight of 115kg (253lb) there's no mistaking it for a gosssamer-like Jap 125LC.

Aside from occasional crowding from Jap-mounted learners trying to get a closer look, riding the Lav was no problem. It's smooth thanks to large rubber bungs on the engine mounts and remarkably stable for a lightweight save for the close-set forks' tendency to wobble, slightly at ultra low speed.

Price, of course, wasn't the only reason for the Laverda's non-appearance in this country. Power output is quoted at 16bhp, making it decidedly non learner legal although capable of over 75mph and delivering respectable acceleration. Unfortunately, this particular bike is almost definitely within the UK learner power limit.

The exhaust might have something to do with it, but even'though the 54x54mm reed valve mill revs happily past the redline (8000rpm) just like its bigger brothers, the expected rush of horses never materialises. It quickly runs out of revs in its comparatively tall bottom gear, and needs plenty of throttle to get the most power while going up through the remaining four well-spaced ratios.

A wrist tuned to a Jap 125LCs peaky 10,000rpm revband would find the Lav's tractability surprising, however. Although it sometimes bogged around 2000rpm and wouldn't clear until the clutch was pulled in, it'd usually trundle happily around at low revs, or rev out with no apparent power step. Too much low rpm running may have been the cause of the bogging down since it only happened in traffic.

On the other hand, previous experience of transmissions on Italian lightweights hadn't prepared me for the Laverda's. The clutch is light and engages smoothly while the gearbox is positive without suffering the excessive lever travel of a triple. Wish they were all like that.

The handling is superb and my 12'/2 stone had far less effect on the way the Lav could be pitched into a corner than it had on the last lap LC I tried. The suspension seems firm but far more supple than thai on most large Wop bikes  the Sebac shocks being especially good.

Standing on the brake pedal didn't seem to provoke much reaction from the 6in Grimeca sis drum (not a bad thing considering the widespread learner bad habit of hardly using the front brake) but the front Brembo was powerful enough to squeal the front Pirelli Mandrake with just a light squeeze.

Moto Vecchia's bike had a 3.25in rear tyre which added to the confidence-inspiring way it could be cranked over but may have contributed to a tendency to run wide coming out of a bend since the Sports leave Breganze with a 2.75 section rear boot which matches the front.

Aside from apparently having no toolkit (you need an alien key to remove the tail hump), the Laverda's spec lives up to its high price. A 90W alternator powers its 12V i iectrical system which feeds a headlamp and indicators, while sparks come courtesy of a Motoplat CDI unit.

There's no side stand and the kickstart lever prodded my calf every now and then, but overall the 125 displayed all the usual Italian style with none of the frustrating idiosyncracies.
According to photographer Kel Edge who's ridden a standard Sport at the factory test track, the beast should be able to go as well as it handles even if getting it to do so migh: mean finding and refittir,; the long and rather unlovely standard pipe.

Looking around at the number of unrestricted 125LCs wearing L plates, the Laverda's 16bhp potential's hardly going to stop a well heeled learner bending the law to get the classiest passport to a full licence currently going. But watch it: judging from the Cologne Show the competiton among Italian 125 hotshots is hotter than ever — and you never know when someone's going to turn up in Colliers Wood with a Gilera . . .