Back in 2016, David N shared his experience after buying a Laverda 750S Carenata that he found on Bike-urious. Three years later, he’s got an update for you!
Long time readers might remember, I bought this 1999 Laverda 750S on Bike-urious about 3 years ago. By way of background, this is a “Zane Era” Laverda from the reborn marque, 1992-1999, built in the town of Zane Italy, down the road from the original factory.
My full review was curtailed because the bike was not ready. The front tire did not hold air. The starter was quirky. I did not go for a spin and I’m glad I didn’t.
I once accompanied a friend who bought a Bultaco Mercurio sight unseen. Upon receiving it, he went for a ride. About an ½ hour later, he came back. I wasn’t sure he would. He was lucky. That’s a risky drive to make. Hop on a strange old bike and go!
Soon after I purchased this Laverda, the starter completely went. It would not spin. It would not even go “click”. This was despite having the previous owner’s lithium battery and his claim the starter was rebuilt. I switched around some of the battery cables with only marginal success.
Hard starting is a problem with these bikes, so I ordered a modified battery cable set. I found them from Marty on the Zanelist in Yahoo Groups. Marty has lots of spares. The Zanelist is also active on Facebook. The cable set is said to cure inherent starting problems.
Changing the battery cables on a Zane Laverda is not easy, at least not the first time. One must open the subframe after first removing the throttle bodies and airbox, disconnect the exhaust at the mounts, and pivot the subframe over its rear along with the fuel tank. Even then, it takes small hands to access starter on the top side of the motor.
I started first with a new solenoid, hoping the easiest repair would work, except someone beat me to it. The was not the original solenoid.
The solenoid is supposed to be the same as used on Cagiva-era Ducatis. I got one from a 916. No luck. It did not interchange.
I sourced a solenoid from a Yamaha Virago. I undid the lame crimp blade connectors and made a new duplex rig from my set of vintage connectors. You can get a full kit from Vintage Connections. Now my repair looks factory.
Of course, the easiest repair yielded nothing. So, I had to break down the rear half and try the fatter battery cable set. It came with good instructions.
The first step is to remove all bodywork. That’s easy. Then pull off the false gas tank, airbox and throttle bodies. Pulling off the throttle bodies yielded a surprise! My intake was covered in yellow gunk! It entered through the fuel injectors and seemed to clog the throttle bodies. I feared the worst. Did ethanol decompose the fuel tank? Did it suck bits through the motor? I almost gave up right there!
After consultation with fellow Zaners, we determined the yellow scum did not come from the fuel tank, but rather some additive in the fuel. Thankfully, the material was soft and only on the coldest parts of the motor. It cleaned up easily. I examined the piston tops with a bore scope. No filth there. So, I returned to my project.
There was other hokiness. The previous owner left the crankcase vent open. The pressure regulator had an adapter where the vent line was supposed to go. The starter cover was missing, too. I fixed all that while I was there. I got the missing parts from Marty.
It’s hard to set the throttle bodies on and correctly connect all those hoses. There’s not much room in there but it gets easier with practice. I got it all back together with the new battery cable set and hit the button! It started right up, but just once! After that, nothing. Now what? Did I screw up or was the starter bad too?
So, I had to tear the whole thing down again. This time, I also pulled the starter, which is the same procedure except one must also drain the oil, pull the right-side engine cover off, and remove the starter gear so the starter will come out. I should have done all that the first time.
Well, so much for the allegedly rebuilt starter. This one was crap. The brushes were gone and the armature had a dead spot. I took it to Chestnut Hill Auto Electric in Denver, Pennsylvania (formerly Weavers) and they sourced me a replacement, which was a Denso 6520. I might have gone with a Ducati 916 starter (6050) but I was pretty sure that’s spun the wrong way, sources said anyway.
No matter, even the replacement starter spun wrong. And that’s really hard to tell except to put it in the bike, pull the spark plugs, jack up the bike and it the button while in gear. The rear tire should roll in the normal direction. Or you can just rotate everything carefully by hand, which is what I did.
I took that new starter back to Chestnut Hill with my old one and had them reverse the new one. That took time, but it worked! Now I had a good starter, new battery cables and a good solenoid. On to fix the front flat tire.
It now rides like most Italian sport bikes of the era. It generally feels light and nimble, but not as much grunt as my 900 Ducati. I don’t get quite as much feedback or hear the internal engine noise as I do with my 900 Ducati, or it may be all drowned out by the Termignoni pipes, which sound really cool but they are loud. Revving it up from idle, the ground shakes!
On the downside, jump on a modern Triumph and the Laverda seems clunky and old. The same is true when it’s compared to most any modern bike, which makes this Laverda feel antiquated. It’s a product of it’s time, which has mostly passed. It’s an OK bike but I would not call it a keeper, unless you really want a Laverda. Some say this is not a real Laverda though, but that’s a whole other story.