The Montjuic name ranks alongside other legendary bikes in the story of
Laverda twin and triples, such as 750SFC and Jota. With its Café racer looks and
bright orange paint job, the Montjuic looked like a scaled-down 750SFC, and an
enlarged version of the final Ducati Desmo single. Both were bikes with a
special place in the hearts and minds of sportsbike enthusiasts.
As with the Jota, it was Roger Slater who was instrumental in the creation of
the Montjuic. Heavily involved in production racing at the time, Slater had a
natural ability to sniff out a marketable product. He had imported a Formula 500
and, realizing that it would not be a viable competitive racer in British
events, he decided to use it as the basis for a middleweight Laverda twin that
he (correctly) believed British enthusiasts would want to own. He must also have
realized by then that the Alpino was never going to make the grade, hampered by
a combination of lacklustre styling and a high price tag.
The Montjuic was named after the famous parkland road circuit in the heart of
Barcelona, where Laverda had often enjoyed success. It was essentially a Formula
500 for the street, refined just enough to be legal under the British Road
Traffic Act. Its styling was gorgeous, as was the bark from its two-into-one
matt-black exhaust system — note that there is no mention of the word
'silencer'! The Montjuic looked as though it was speeding even when it was
standing still, and it was impossible to ignore. It grabbed sales in a way that
the less adventurous and far more sober Alpino had never been able.
Using the standard Alpino tank, Slater commissioned Birmingham-based Screen
and Plastics to manufacture a batch of suitable handlebar fairings and hump-back
single saddles, together with more sporting mudguards, Jota-type bars posed as
clip-ons and rear set foot controls; the latter were mounted on triangular alloy
One of the major problems that beset the first-series Montjuic machines was
that the fairing was fork-mounted and caused weaving at high speed. This was
largely rectified on later machines (series 2), which employed a frame-mounted
fairing designed by the Italian Motoplast concern, but manufactured in Britain.
Of course, a really critical rider could find much that was wrong with the
Montjuic in comparison with other five-hundred twins of the same era - Moto
Guzzi V50, Ducati Pantah, Yamaha XS500, Honda CX500 or even the Morini 500. All
of these were relatively civilized, quieter and, in most cases, faster too.
However none of them had the same sort of character, none were so compact and
none enjoyed quite the same sort of relationship with its rider. The Laverda was
far from ideal for any form of commuting or touring, but for pure enjoyment,
fast road work or even a touch of club racing, or 'track days', in 1980 no
half-litre machine could compare with the Montjuic. Its nearest rival was
probably the 350 LC Yamaha water-cooled two-stroke twin, which was very slightly
larger and heavier than the Montjuic. Both gave the feel of a 250cc, and, as I
found out one day at Snetterton in summer 1984, virtually identical on lap
times. The Yamaha twin was a shade quicker, but the Laverda made up lost ground
on the corners and braking areas.
The 'Monty', as it became known, soon had me hooked. By the time I got to
ride one, production had long since ceased; otherwise I might well have gone out
and bought one!
Source Mick Walker