Laverda. A name that still makes many people's hearts beat faster, and not only in Italy. The legendary SF, SFC and 3-cylinder models will always remain in the hearts of enthusiasts, becoming in their own way one of the best expressions of the Italian motoring school of the 1970s. However, Laverda is also a name that many will remember in the 125 class. The LZ 125 series sold as many as 20,000 units and there are many motorcyclists today who have cut their teeth on the legendary LZ. In the field of the 125 stradali, Laverda was also a forerunner in the single-brand trophies, where with its Laverda Trophy, held between 1984 and 1986, its LB Sport and Uno bikes gave a lot of excitement to many young people who in those years, thanks to the Breganze company, could choose to learn how to ride a motorbike on the track, competing against each other in safety.
Here are the models produced:
LZ 125 - 1977
Presented at the Milan Motor Show in 1977 and marketed shortly afterwards, the Laverda Lz was the result of a collaboration between Laverda and Zundapp - hence the acronym LZ - combining Italian design with a German engine.
Towards the end of the 70's, Aspes with the Yuma and Malanca with the twin-cylinder OB One were the highest performing 125 stradali bikes on the market, but they were also handcrafted and decidedly extreme for the average user, who in addition to performance was also looking for a reliable and drivable everyday 125 road bike. Qualities that Aspes and Malanca certainly do not possess.
In 1977, the fashion for regularity 125s began to be surpassed by that for the stradali models and the Laverda brothers, with great entrepreneurial vision, immediately seized the moment. For their 125 road bike, they reached an agreement with the German company Zundapp, which produced the only liquid-cooled 125cc 2-stroke engine. An engine that, thanks to liquid cooling (with a simple radiator circulation) guarantees better performance and reliability, reduced consumption and exclusivity.
The Lz thus became the right compromise between reliability, performance and build quality, gaining a place of honour in the 125 market stradali. Zundapp also participated directly in this success with its 125 road bike produced in Germany: the Ks 125. The Lz and Ks share a similar design, similar equipment, a similar chassis and the same engine, which is exactly the same in both versions. So what does it change? The image!
Thanks to a lower selling price compared to the Zundapp (1,720,000 Lire for the Lz Sport in 1981 against 2,100,000 Lire for the Ks) and the widespread presence of Laverda's dealers throughout Italy, the Lz was a net sales success compared to the Ks. However, a high price and limited circulation were synonymous with exclusivity. This is how the Ks became the 125 road bike preferred by well-off young people, like the first "paninari" of the eighties, who elected it as a real status symbol. A fashion born in Milan thanks, among other things, to the presence of the Perere company which for years was the historic Italian importer for Zundapp.
Laverda was therefore destined to a wider and more heterogeneous public and with more than 20,000 units produced from 1977 to 1984, the Lz imposed itself as one of the best selling 125 stradali ever. A success that lasted even after it went out of production, with a strong demand in the second hand market that continued for years.
Over the course of the seasons, various details were modified, such as the saddle, tail, tank cap with key, square headlight replacing the round one and fork with provision for a second front disc brake. The colour range was also enriched and several versions were introduced: Sport, the best seller, distinguished by the fairing, Elegant, characterised by the black livery with gold rims and trim, Standard, practically a sport without fairing and Custom, with a longer fork and high handlebars. The Lz is also produced in a 175cc version for adults, which is identical to the Lz in all respects except, of course, the displacement.
Among the faults that became a distinctive feature of the model was the very long exhaust silencer, with the chrome-plated tailpipe that went beyond the rear wheel and was regularly filed on the asphalt by those who liked easy wheelies. The gearbox of the Zundapp engine is also distinguished by the difficulty of inserting gears that require the movement of the whole leg to avoid running into a merciless "displacement" between gear changes. There were several 16-year-olds of the time who, in order to be able to 'legally' drive their Lz on the motorway, replaced the side panels with the 175cc model's identifying inscription!
The bike in brief
The design of the Lz is undoubtedly nice in the Sport and Elegant versions. The fairing gives the Sport an extra sporty touch, but even without it, the Lz has a nice line with the round headlight and instrumentation. The headlight will become square in later versions.
The tank, side panels and tail are well designed to match the line of the bike and vary in shape over the years.
The Vdo instrumentation is the same as that fitted to the Zundapp Ks. It is equipped with the classic service lights, including excessive water temperature. As on the Ks, the neutral light is not connected.
The frame of the Lz is a classic upper single girder with a closed double cradle made of steel tubes.
Suspension is provided by a 32mm Marzocchi non-adjustable front fork and, at the rear, by two Sebac spring preload adjustable shock absorbers combined with a steel swingarm.
The front brake is a 260 mm Brembo fixed disc with a single-piston caliper, while a 160 mm drum is used at the rear. Over the years, the fork was fitted with a provision for a second front disc.
The alloy wheels have 7 spokes and are both 18".
The Lz's engine is exactly the same as that fitted to the Zundapp Ks. The engine is liquid-cooled with thermosiphon circulation, i.e. natural circulation without a water pump. Equipped with electronic ignition and a 5-speed gearbox, the Zundapp engine is one of the most refined available on a 125 road bike.
The thermal unit retains cooling fins, but mainly for aesthetic reasons. The carburettor is a good Mikuni VM 28 served by a large filter box. There is no automatic mixer. The exhaust system features a rather long tailpipe.
The engine delivers 18 hp to the wheel at 7500 rpm for a top speed of 120 km per hour.
LB 125 - 1984
Marketed from 1984, the LB, where Lb means Laverda Breganze, followed the successful Lz series that was kept on the list. As with the previous model, Laverda presented the Lb in different versions: Sport, Strada; Sabbia and Custom.
The selling price in 1984 was 2,750,000 lire and for the Sport version the available colours were white with red inserts, frame and wheels painted red or white with blue inserts, frame and wheels painted blue.
The Lb, especially in the Sport version equipped with a fairing, is a beautiful bike, but technically it is inferior to the best competition which in the 125 stradali market in 1984 is called the Aprilia Stx and Gilera Rv. In fact, both adopt better components (especially the Rv), a 16" front wheel, rear suspension with progressive single shock absorber and technically more advanced engines with equipment, which in the case of the Rv, even includes electric start.
The high-performance 125s saw the success of the very fast Hrd, which became the Bimota of the 125s stradali and Malanca, who with his Ob One Racing reached the pinnacle of the production of his powerful twin-cylinders. Unfortunately, however, these bikes were unreliable and truly extreme for everyday use.
Among the liquid-cooled 2-strokes, the Lb is therefore somewhere between the aforementioned 125 stradali and the simpler Lz, Garelli Tsr and Fantic Strada Sport.
With the Lb Sport, Laverda inaugurated the first Laverda Trophy for a 125 road bike in 1984. A good idea that would be taken up by Honda, Gilera and later also by Cagiva.
The bike in brief
The "diamond" frame structure dominates the line of the Lb and contributes to its originality. The spoiler on the Sport version makes the Lb aggressive and has a much sportier look than the spoiler on the previous Lz.
The radiator has a black plastic protective grille, which is continued with a tip in body colour. The tank, side panels and tail are well designed and match the line of the bike. The Sport is also equipped with a passenger seat cover which makes it very sporty and reminiscent of the Laverda Rgs.
The Japanese-made instrumentation with two square instruments does not look particularly attractive. It is equipped with numerous service lights, but is still inferior to the best competition. The electrical blocks are the classic Cev of good workmanship, common to other 125 stradali of the period.
The Lb's frame is a new 'diamond' structure with a tubular upper trellis and features a different steering geometry to the frame on the previous Lz.
Suspension features a 32mm Marzocchi non-adjustable front fork and two spring preload adjustable Sebac shocks at the rear, combined with a new rectangular-section steel swingarm.
The front brake is a Brembo 260 mm fixed disc with a single-piston caliper, while a 160 mm drum is used at the rear. There is the possibility of fitting a second front disc, as on the bikes that race in the Laverda Trophy.
The wheels have the following dimensions: 80/100-16 at the front and 18 at the rear.
The LB engine was thoroughly revised compared to the Zundapp unit mounted on the Lz. Laverda's engineers modified the crankcase, which now had differently shaped crankcases (losing the characteristic "Zundapp" mark) and made appropriate changes to the transmission, which retained a 5-speed gearbox, and to the internal gears in general.
The thermic group remains the previous Zundapp mounted on the Lb, but in addition to being revised internally, it is also enriched with reed valve admission directly into the cylinder. Liquid cooling with thermosiphon circulation remains, i.e. with natural circulation without a water pump.
The carburettor is now a Dell'Orto PHBH 28 in place of the previous Mikuni VM 28 SS which mounts the Lz and is equipped with an automatic mixer. The exhaust system is new.
LB 125 ONE - 1985
Presented at the Bologna Motor Show in 1984 and marketed from January 1985, the LB Uno, where LB stands for Laverda Breganze, is the direct evolution of the Lb Sport presented in 1984 and updated with a new frame in square tubes, a new rear single shock absorber and a new 16" front wheel.
The price in 1985 is 3,393,820 lire and the available colours are white/red and black/red.
When looking at the Lb, admirers of the Breganze company will notice a certain similarity with the company's flagship, the three-cylinder Rgs 1000. However, just as with the Rgs, which already suffered from an outdated line at its presentation, the Lb Uno also has a somewhat dated line.
Curiously, despite the adoption of a 16" front wheel, the Lb Uno adopted a new frame with a steering geometry that remained unchanged from the previous Lb and was therefore more suitable for an 18" front wheel. The result, according to tests carried out at the time, was a bike that was a little nervous on the front end in fast corners and that required constant trajectory adjustments.
The Lb Uno is used for the Laverda Trophy in the 1985 and 1986 seasons, which will also be the last in the Trophy. The Lb Uno is replaced in 1986 by the more modern, but commercially unlucky, Gs Lesmo.
The bike in brief
With the exception of a new radiator cowling and new side panels, the Lb Uno's styling remains quite similar to the previous Sport. Overall, the few changes made and the new colours adopted make the Lb Uno's line more sleek and aggressive than its predecessor, although the dated look that also plagued the Sport remains.
The left side panel conceals the voltage regulator and fuses, while the right side panel allows you to keep an eye on the battery level, which requires removal of the seat and also gives access to the air filter box.
The level of finishing is only fair and it is clear a certain approximation in the assembly and especially in the confused arrangement of the cables near the steering head. The instrumentation and the antiquated column antitheft system, which requires a different key from the ignition key, are decidedly cheap and moped-style. Better are the electric controls produced by CEV and common to other motorbikes of the period.
The Lb Uno's all-new frame is an open cradle in square steel tubing that echoes the design of the frame on the previous Sport.
The suspension system features a brand new 32 mm Marzocchi fork with three-position adjustable anti-dive settings at the front, and at the rear, a Sebac preload-adjustable monoshock working with a progressive linkage combined with a steel swingarm.
The front brake is a Brembo 260 mm fixed disc with single piston caliper, while a 160 mm drum is used at the rear.
The wheels have the following dimensions: 80/100-16 at the front and 18 at the rear.
The Lb Uno's engine is revised from the engine fitted to the previous Lb Sport, but continues to use the same crankcase with 5-speed gearbox that is still derived from the Lz engine produced by Zundapp.
The Lb Uno adopts a brand new power unit with a light alloy cylinder liner with 4 ports and direct reed valve in the cylinder. Liquid cooling with thermosiphon circulation is maintained, i.e. natural circulation, therefore without a water pump. The cylinder head is revised and now has a compression ratio of 14:1.
The fuel system features a Dell'Orto PHBH 28 carburettor (as on the Lb Sport, but calibrated differently). The exhaust system is new, with a chrome-plated tailpipe.
Although it was a good engine in the early 1980s and had the advantage of being the only liquid-cooled 125 2-stroke, by 1985 the LB's engine was outdated and, unlike its competitors, not only did it not have an exhaust valve, but also no balancing countershaft, electric starter and sixth gear.
The power delivery is however good and the engine is also quite elastic. Maximum power at the wheel is 17.05 hp at 8,250 rpm and the top speed is 129.496 km/h.
GS 125 LESMO - 1986
Presented at the Milan Motor Show in November 1985 and marketed from March 1986, the GS Lesmo was the evolution of the previous LB Uno. Presented with original lenticular wheels, reminiscent of those mounted on the Gilera Kz and Kk, the Lesmo was then put into production with classic alloy wheels to overcome homologation problems.
The Gs Lesmo differs from its predecessor, the Lb, in that it has a trendy, gritty line with maxi-bike dimensions, leading to a decisive change of direction from the light-motorcycle approach that the Lb still had in common with its progenitor, the Lz.
The price in 1986 was Lire 4,488,000 turnkey and the colours available were black/white with red/green piping, black saddle and black rims or red/black with gold piping, black saddle and black rims. A third colour was then presented: white/red with red/green piping, red saddle and white rims, and alternatively, the same colour combination but with red/blue piping.
In 1986 the queen of the 125 stradali is the Gilera Kz. The Arcore-based company could also count on the beautiful and well-finished Rv, which remained on the list. Aprilia proposes the As-R which, although from an aesthetic point of view is a mere update of the previous Stx, from a technical point of view boasts a new and powerful Rotax engine which makes it very fast. Cagiva presents the Aletta Oro S2 which takes up the beautiful line of the previous S1 with the presence of the electric starter. Honda with the best-selling Ns-F combines Japanese quality with Italian style. Laverda proposed itself in a fierce market and did so with a bike that was too expensive compared to its technically superior competitors.
The Gs Lesmo was a beautiful and well-finished 125 road bike, but the tight budget (these were very dark years for Laverda) forced Laverda's designers to make do as best they could with the chassis and the engine which, although it finally adopted sixth gear, unfortunately had to give up the exhaust valve and the electric starter.
The Gs Lesmo was followed by the Gsr which, although presented in 1987, was never put into production. The successor was therefore the Navarro of 1990.
The bike in brief
The design of the Lesmo GS is very pleasing. The impressive new fairing incorporates the front blinkers and supports the mirrors and overall offers good protection. The cowl is also a unique combination with the two small side fairings that leave the engine in full view. The front cowl is well profiled and blends well with the two side fairings.
The fuel tank (this is a tank cover, as the real tank is hidden from view) forms a single unit with the fairing, the saddle and the side panels that close the tail very well, joining the headlight and the rear lights into a single unit. Note the particular shape of the saddle, which has a raised seat for the passenger, who is also provided with two comfortable handles.
The level of quality is generally better than the LB, and there are some fine details such as the aluminium footrest supports and the flange supporting the rear disc caliper positioned underneath the disc itself that are very racing. However, some details such as the antiquated column antitheft device, the very rough gold paint used for the spokes of the brake discs, the calipers and the swingarm and a low quality level of the components used, are not up to the best competition.
The new instrumentation with white background is very racing and is certainly more modern than the one on the Lb, but it is still inferior to what even the best small fifties offer nowadays. Even the handlebar controls have an old-fashioned look and are subpar compared to the competition.
The Lesmo's frame remains the same square steel tubes seen on the Lb Uno, although the steering head is lengthened downwards and angled half a degree more, the trail is increased by 10 mm and the wheelbase is significantly longer. This all adds up to greater stability, which was a weak point of the previous Lb Uno.
The suspension department retains a slim 32 mm Marzocchi fork, but now equipped with anti-dive adjustment. The rear swingarm is new, again in steel, and adopts an updated monoshock suspension with a different linkage compared to the Lb Uno.
The braking system uses a new pair of 240 mm Brembo fixed discs at the front, served by single-piston callipers, and a single 240 mm disc at the rear, served by a single-piston calliper mounted under the disc itself.
The alloy wheels are fitted with Pirelli tyres in the following sizes: 100/90-16 at the front and 110/80-18 at the rear.
The weight measured is 135kg.
Unfortunately, the Lesmo's engine remains the same as the previous Lb Uno and therefore lacks the latest technical refinements that the best competitors possess. Important accessories such as the exhaust valve, balancing countershaft and electric starter are unfortunately not included.
Compared to the unit mounted on the LB Uno, a new thermal unit has been adopted, apparently with direct lamellar induction, a new exhaust system and a new calibration for the carburettor, which remains the proven Dell'Orto PHBH 28. The cooling system was improved and now boasts a brand new electric pump for circulating the coolant and the gearbox now finally boasts 6 gears.
The power delivery is certainly more robust than the engine fitted to the Lb and the acceleration also gains over 1,000 rpm, but the adoption of 6 gears results in a worsening of the manoeuvrability of the gearbox.
Maximum power at the wheel was 18.63 hp at 9500 rpm (17.05 hp at 8250 rpm for the LB Uno) and the top speed was 136.520 km/h, much improved on the 129.496 km/h recorded by the LB Uno.
NAVARRO 125 - 1990
Introduced in 1990, the Navarro 125 was produced by the "Nuova Moto Laverda", a cooperative that took over management of the Breganze company at the end of the 1980s. Laverda went into receivership in 1986 with the Laverda family unfortunately leaving the scene. A handover followed and a Milanese financial company tried to relaunch the company, but fate did not smile on Laverda and the initiative did not go ahead. Towards the end of 1988, the Laverda brand was then taken over by a cooperative formed by 70 former employees who tried to bring the brand back to life.
The Cooperative signed a commercial agreement with Cagiva to supply the following engines: the C12 R engine for the Navarro 125, the Blues 125 engine for the Toledo 125 and finally the 50cc engine for the Cocis and K3 50 enduros for the Gaucho 50. For the new production, the Cooperative chose Spanish names, which in their opinion were suitable for relaunching Laverda's production. To complete the production launch, two new 700cc two-cylinder bikes were also set up: the El Cid enduro (which resembled the Navarro in its lines and remained at the prototype stage) and the Hidalgo custom. Unfortunately for the Cooperative, the revival is a complete failure and production stops shortly afterwards.
The Navarro is offered for sale at a price of Lire 5,980,000, a decidedly high price for a motorbike that is technologically obsolete and which, in addition to the engine, also has most of the components in common with the Cagiva Freccia C12R, also an old 125 in 1990. In addition to the white/red/purple livery, the Navarro is marketed in a black/green livery.
The Navarro is therefore today a 125 road bike appreciated by collectors for its original lines, the result of French designer Jamel Mecheri, and for its rarity, given that at the time no 16-year-old wanted it and no more than a few hundred examples were sold.
A less than glorious end for the great Laverda that powered half of Italy with the first road Lz 125.
The bike in brief
Looking at Navarro, one can understand why she was not liked at the time. Too original and unconventional. Too much for the 16-year-old who dreams of racing bikes or big-bore stradali . While it is true that a conventional line can sometimes seem banal, it is also true that a line that is too old-fashioned can sometimes be simply ugly.
Jamel Mecheri has undoubtedly created a soft line, with a generous front dimension, a narrow waist and a small tail. The bike almost looks like a bodybuilder, with wide shoulders and a narrow waist. The fairing extends to partially fairing the sides of the bike and then attaches to the two side fairings that allow a glimpse of the expansion. The seat and tank cover (which hides the real plastic tank) join the fairing, forming a structure that hides the frame from view. The tail, on the other hand, has more minimalist dimensions that contrast with the imposing front of the Navarro. The fit and finish of the plastics are of fairly good quality.
The components are practically all Cagiva. The electric blocks, the semi handlebars, the upper fork plate and the indicators. The mirrors, on the other hand, are Vitaloni, the same ones fitted to the Gilera Mxr. The instrumentation is a Cev designed specifically for the Navarro, but although it is fully equipped, it is dated compared to the futuristic look that the bike is intended to convey.
The frame of the Navarro remains the same square steel tubes with diamond structure now introduced on the Lb. Modifications are made to accommodate the new engine and reinforcements are made in the swingarm attachment area.
The suspension department sees a new 35 mm Marzocchi fork and at the rear a single arm steel swingarm combined with an updated single shock absorber linkage.
The braking system is the same as on the C12R, with a single 298 mm floating disc served by a twin-piston caliper at the front and a single 240 mm disc served by a single-piston caliper mounted underneath the disc at the rear.
The hollow-spoke alloy wheels are also the same as the C12R's 3-spoke wheels and are fitted with Pirelli tyres in the following sizes: 100/80-16 at the front and 130/70-17 at the rear.
The weight measured is 129 kg.
The Navarro's powerplant is the same unit fitted to the Cagiva C12R and features the CTS electronically controlled valve and 7-speed gearbox.
The thermal unit remains the same 60433 (code printed on the cylinder) of the C12 and so does the fuel supply, again entrusted to a 28 mm PHBH carburettor. The exhaust system with expansion and aluminium tailpipe is designed specifically for the Navarro.
The power measured at the wheel is 29.33 hp at 10500 rpm and the top speed is 158 km/h, a result of the bike's poor aerodynamics.