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Air or Water? 2 Zane-era Laverdas in the UK, same seller

lavjoined

The zane-era laverda bikes tick a lot of the Rare Sport Bike boxes; limited production numbers, discontinued marque, italian heritage, smexy looks in an age where eye-bleeding graphics packages were the norm, etc.  The final generation Zane bikes were even recently ranked as one of  the top 5 “future classics” by Bonhams.

Personally I am a huge fan of these bikes; I love their handling due to the Nico Baker frame and top shelf components.  Also the letterbox gas tank  that reduces the center of gravity is still pretty advanced after 14 years.  The only real knocks against the zane-era bikes is 1) owners of the bikes made when the factory was located in breganze don’t consider them “real” laverdas (which is just stupid imho), 2) a lot of people haven’t heard of the brand/marque, and 3) some claim that the air cooled 668 was underpowered and the 750 series was unreliable.  NOTE:  I have found that people who claim this seem to turn out to be the aforementioned breganze-era owners.

As a collector I have had a good opportunity to experience these bikes directly and let set the record straight; the 668 series more than holds it own compared to comparable bikes of the time and looks a hell of a lot better.  As for the 750 series, it is true the 1st run of the 750s had some charging issues and a reputation for blown cranks at high rpms after 25k miles but both of these issues were resolved by the time the final generation was issued in 1999 as the 2000 models.   Sadly, at this point the company fell apart as the relationship between Francisco Tognon and other major investors deteriorated.  The brand was bought by Aprilia which then went bankrupt itself a few years later and both were then bought by Italian scooter maker Piaggio and so far there has been no indication of a revival of Laverda anytime in the near future.

This particular post is for two auctions of zane-era bikes.  While normally these would be two separate posts, they are being combined because both are being offered by the same seller!

lav20

Air Cooled 1998 Laverda 668 in UK on ebay

The first is for a 668/air cooled sport that looks very pristine.  Just look at the area near the footpegs/exhausts/chain…looks brand new!   The seller doesn’t include enough pics in my opinion but from what I am seeing the bike looks to be in simply stunning condition, perfectly clean and has approx 10,000 k on it so its barely broken it.

The 668 sport was probably the most advanced model in the 668/air-cooled range and owners report almost no issues with them other than the occasionally flat battery (which can be resolved by upgrading the battery cables).  I know some people who are fans of the early generation air cooled GSX-R models that tried a 668 sport and was just blown away by how they handled, sounded and looked. This bike has essentially the same styling as the 750 sport/formula so if you like the 750 series but are still concerned about reliability, this would be an excellent choice.

2000FORMNUAL3

2000 Laverda 750 formula in UK on ebay

The second is the real gem in my opinion, a 2000 series 750 formula with the ultra-rare silver and orange paint scheme.  The 2000 series had all the upgrades including a new crank design and this bike is a Formula edition. The Formula was the hot/race version of the 750 series with special cams, advanced FI chip and carbon exhausts standard.   This particular one looks like a 1999/2000 series that has the 1998-1999 3 spoke wheels instead of the 1999-2000 lighter  5 spoke wheels but is otherwise correct.   The bikes are already appreciating and regularly win awards, including a recent first place in class at the Goodwin Festival of Speed.

Personally I don’t think the pics in the auction clearly show how stunningly beautiful the 2000 series bike really are so I have also included a link to some additional pics on the web.

This looks like an amazing opportunity that some lucky collector in the UK is going to get.  I think a collector could pick up one of these if so inclined but the smart collector could pick up both of these as a package deal for about 4000-5000 GBP.  As stated previously, the 750 formula has already started to appreciate so perhaps the buyer could tuck it away and let it continue to appreciate while enjoying the hell out of the air cooled 668 sport.  All I know is that even though personally I already own both a 668 sport and 2000 series formula, if I was in the UK I would be bidding.

-marty

 

Post Script:  For any us interested buyers, neither the 668 Sport nor the Silver/Orange 2000 750 Formula were ever offered for sale in the states so if you bought it and imported it you would have an uber rare bike.

5 Comments

  • Marty, I’m struggling to share your enthusiasm for these models. I’m a past owner of a Breganze era Laverda triple, but I am not blinded by that ownership. I like most any Italian sportbike new or old, and admit that I have not heard one of these newer twins- nor have I ridden one. Have you? How do they feel and sound? I’d have to sample one before even considering adding one to the collection…they just don’t really do it for me, and I’ve seen them in person. You make a good case for appreciation, but I’m just not feeling “future classic” potential here.

    • Sixth Gear-

      Here are some of the things that appeal to me about these bikes, in no particular order;

      -Easy to/reasonably comfortable. Even though they are 750cc the seat height isn’t over 30 inches so I can put my feet down with no problems. The foot peg arrangement can be adjusted on the formula series and while a bit cramped, was certainly better than most of the stuff out there at the same time.

      -Great handling. With the letterbox gas tank you fill it from under the rear seat and as the fuel level goes down the center of gravity lowers which makes it easier to do killer lean angles. This is combined with a nico baker designed frame, brembo brakes with steel lines, termi wheels for really outstanding handling in the twisties.

      -Interesting engine/reasonably easy to work on. The 750cc parallel twin makes pretty good power, not great but good enough for me and also makes a different noise than a V-Twin or 4. Also, the bikes isn’t so complex that it can’t be worked on by someone with a basic set of tools. In the 7 years of the zane effort they made about 5500 bikes, split between the 650/668 air cooled models and the later 750 water cooled models. Parts aren’t impossible to get, either used from breakers or from Aprilia or from people who have backstock available (like me!)

      -Really good looking/attention getting. The bikes are real attention getters, especially the formula 750 series. Whoever did the design for them really hit it out of the park, the 1999 series black and orange always gets looks and the 2000 series is simply beautiful even today. I think the looks of the bike are as appealing as a Duc 916/996 or MV Agusta 750 series.

      -Rarity/last edition of the company. I have to admit this is one of the main reasons I like these bikes. From a collecting standpoint, these are last editions by a big name marque so I think they will appreciate over time. Also, I think some of other “exotic” bike companies have become too common. IMHO both Ducati and MV Agusta have overdone it with the “limited edition” bikes. I talk to people on Ducati’s at bike night and they have all the Ducati gear on, jacket, gloves etc…but when you talk to them they know very little about bikes..the only reason they bought it was because it was a Ducati and they don’t know why its better or worse than say, a Kawasaki, they just bought it because it is a Ducati or MV Agusta or because “its Italian and its cool”. The people who come up and chat about the Laverda seem to know what it is and appreciate it a bit more. Perhaps that’s a bit snobbish but it’s still appealing to have something that real bike aficionados appreciate.

  • i own a 1999 750 s and a 2000 750 formula………..they handle beautifully, nothing like them in my opinion, but, the zane motors are a bit enemic. just plain weak, no torque, no power, just a momentum bike. i truly enjoy them but in avery different way than my ducati’s. i wish Laverda had continued and developed further the triple used in Binelli Tornado’s, we’ll never know , but that generation of the marque may have been really cool.

  • I had a Formula. I compare the bike to a 748. The Laverda handling was slightly better and the fact that it didn’t have a steering damper was never missed. The low end fuel injection was also better than the Ducati. The Formula is supposed to have as much or more power than the 748, but I think it’s the revs that make the Ducati feel noticeably faster. I now live near the canyons of Utah and one would be welcome, but back then I was in Chicago–the Laverda was slow-ish and didn’t fit a niche in my collection.

  • Hi, I was the very proud owner of the Zane bikes that you showed, I unfortunately sold them due to people that have not been honest in this world. These bikes were a massive part of my life, I have also owned Two jota’s One that I took to Breganza factory The bikes had nippon and Bosch electronics and two up handling was great. Wishing all the best to Laverda owners

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