Every Laverda that Jean-Louis Olive lays his hands on gets the star treatment. Most of his projects are restorations, but this 1978 1200 Jota America was a full-blown custom job. And it turned out so good, it starred in the pages of Practical Sportbikes magazine in the UK.
Jean-Louis is more than a little obsessed with Laverda. He had his first encounter with the marque in 1977, and has been in love ever since. He’s written multiple Laverda-themed books, and launched the Laverdamania website and owners’ association.
Jean-Louis refers to his passion as “only a hobby, but almost a full time job!” It took him a few years to wrap up the Jota, because he was working abroad while the project was active. So wrench time was limited to vacations, when he could return to his home in Aubagne, a small town near Marseille that’s also home to the French Foreign Legion.
According to Jean-Louis, the idea was to “build a special with the most modern technology, while keeping some strong visual aspects of the original Laverda identity. So it is a mix between modern and ancient.”
“It is a sort of opposite of the current neo-retro fashion,” he continues. “While many of these projects offer a vintage design on a modern base, P12XX puts modern technology on an ancient base.” In other words, it’s a restomod.
Why ‘P12XX?’ The ‘P’ stands for project, the ’12’ for the model designation, and the ‘XX’ because Jean-Louis didn’t know what the engine capacity would eventually be. And that’s not a joke; this motor’s had one of the deepest reworks we’ve ever featured on Bike EXIF.
All the machining and rebuild work was handled by Peter Herrmann, an engineer based in Germany. The cylinder head is a rare TT F1 unit, built by the factory for TT racing back in the 80s. It’s been ported, and modified with large valves and new seats.
It’s also packing slightly re-phased, factory-issue endurance racing cams, and ceramic coated Ross Racing pistons with a 10.5:1 compression ration. The crankshaft has been lightened and balanced, and the conrods are from Carillo USA.
A lot of effort’s gone into lightening the motor, and Jean-Louis reckons it’s now roughly 10 kg lighter. It has a fresh gearbox (also made lighter), and a special hydraulic clutch system from Redax Laverda in Australia (“to cope with the extra power”).
Redax Laverda also supplied a programmable ignition and upgraded charging system. The entire electrical system has been redone with Motogadget components (right down to the switches and speedo), with a lightweight Deka battery, and LED lighting at both ends. The carbs are Mikuni RS series numbers.
The exhaust system is a custom-built titanium and stainless steel affair, digitally designed by Burns Stainless in the US. “All the tubes are laser cut and rolled by hand,” Jean-Louis tells us. “The headers have a conical 38/44 mm shape, and the collector has a venturi shape.”
P12XX has a chassis upgrade package to match too. The frame is original, but it’s been lightened and stiffened, with its trail reduced a touch. The forks are Marzocchi units, upgraded with a Racetech kit and a Redax Laverda brace.
Jean-Louis has also fitted Öhlins rear shocks, a pair of Suzuki GSX-R 1100 wheels, and a Brembo brake set. There are tasty bits everywhere—from aircraft-grade titanium wheel and swingarm axles, to a host of 7075 aluminum parts.
Even the bodywork has a performance bent: it’s all made from carbon fiber, with the addition of Kevlar for the tank. It was built and shipped by the Serbian carbon specialist Slobodan Vukomanovic. Jean-Louis had nothing but praise for his work.
The design is a slightly altered version of the Laverda 750 SFC’s bodywork. With nothing but a pair of racing stripes adorning the carbon sections, the overall effect is both elegant and purposeful.
This Jota has the numbers to back the looks: it now makes 120 hp at the rear wheel, and weighs 192 kg wet. For reference, original numbers were 80 hp at the crank, and 60 kg more on the scales.
“Even when the Laverda triple was a legendary model,” says Jean-Louis, “and the fastest production motorbike in the mid 70s, it had some downsides commonly seen on vintage motorbikes of this period—particularly the weight.”
“I was dreaming of having a lightweight Laverda triple, to light up this fabulous engine.”
It looks like Jean-Louis has found the magic formula. Here’s hoping he has more delicious custom work up his sleeve.
Published at Wed, 05 Jun 2019 17:01:02 +0000