1999 Laverda Formula 750 SF.
Just before being sold to Aprilia in 2001, Laverda got in on the modern (for the time) Sporting twin game. What started life as a liquid cooled 668cc parallel twin in 1996 was bored & stroked to 747cc in 1997.
The liquid cooled 750 Formula engine made around 92 hp @ 7500 rpm. In comparison to the 748, it’s only competition in the 750cc twin category it didn’t do poorly. The main drawbacks being its weight, and archaic engine architecture.
Curb weight was 445 lbs while the engine was decidedly old tech by the mid 1990s. Its original design was from the 1960s and displaced 500cc as an air-cooled parallel twin that powered the Laverda Alpino from the 1970s.
The original Laverda company went bankrupt in 1980s and this era bike is oft referred to as “Zanè” Laverda by the purists. This (at least to me) is a down the nose barb to point out the fact that it was built after the Laverda family had left the building.
After being rescued from bankruptcy for the third time the Laverda company was henceforth labeled I.Mo.La. SpA. A new factory, a new strategy and direction was needed. The company was moved to a new, smaller facility 6 miles away in Zanè. Using the previously developed Nico Bakker frame with an updated 668cc twin, a new Sportbike was built to enter the market.
The frame was a masterpiece but it was mated to an outdated engine. Even punching it out to 747ccs wasn’t enough. Laverda added liquid cooling and fuel injection too but it literally took the factory race tuning the engines to make the 92 hp it needed to be competitive.
Don’t be fooled by the gold anodizing, the suspension is Paioli rather than Öhlins. Not that it’s a bad thing. Combined with the stellar frame it made for sweet handling. A common praise given to the Formula. Brembo brakes were top shelf as fitted to all Ducatis and Aprilias of the same era.
I got to check the bike out, in person at Laguna Seca in 1998. Laverda had a full display area complete with test rides and all. One thing I’ll say up front is, the bike looks amazing in person. But that’s as far as it goes.
Lots of rough edges give the game away. The sound from the carbon Termis is awesome. The clatter from under the fairing less so. Just swinging a leg over and settling in to the seat feels weird. Not that the seating position is more or less comfortable than a Ducati Superbike.
It’s a weird feeling I guess. A seat of the pants thing that says to you, this thing isn’t what it appears to be. As you take in all of details you begin to notice a lack of quality control in places you wouldn’t normally notice such things.
Like paint blemishes where the wouldn’t and shouldn’t be such things. Then fidgety gimmicky things like the fuel filler under the solo tail piece. Why is the faux tank shaped so square where it meets the rider? It’s just an airbox cover and could be shaped as ergonomically as desired.
Then there was the asking price. As I recall, Laverda was asking the equivalent of a 996 for one them or damn close to it. $16K is the figure that sticks in my mind and it was $16K flat. I think at the time a base model 996 was $17.5K