The Laverda Jota 1000

AGR_Strath_MVsWhat gives a car, or bike, character? There are hundreds or thousands of traits that can all combine to create character, but there is one that stands far above most and that is speed. Almost anything, given an outstanding top speed for its period, will have character. Not saying that the Laverda Jota 1000 doesn’t have character in its own right – far from it. It’s an Italian motorcycle, which are by definition some of the most characterful machines ever made. But the numbers, for a superbike made in 1976, are huge. 90hp from the 981cc triple sends the Jota rider on to over 225km/h, making it the fastest production bike of its day.

AGR_Strath_MVs (5)Strathalbyn, located where the Adelaide Hills morphs to the Murraylands, is the terminus of many of South Australia’s best roads and it is regularly filled with bikes and sports cars on any sunny weekend. Last time I passed through there was a small assembled group of Italian cycles, headlined by a pair of the highly strung Jota’s in their trademark hero orange color. Their clip on bars gave a definite cafe racer vibe, although these machines are from an age where the term was an adjective for the act of racing from cafe to cafe, not for bastardising otherwise pedestrian moto’s like it is rapidly becoming.

AGR_Strath_MVs (2)Like the Ferrari 250 California and the Porsche Speedster in the automotive world, the Jota 1000 was a limited edition brainchild of a successful dealer, who modified production bikes with factory Grand Prix parts to create an English tuned special so impressive it inspired the North-Eastern Italian factory to do it themselves. Big Dell’Orto carbies, lumpy twin overhead camshafts and high compression pistons gave added urgency, backed up by a unique triple-cylinder thrum created by the offbeat crankshaft.

AGR_Strath_MVs (4)Splitting the Jota’s was a Laverda RGS 1000, a sports-tourer launched in 1983. The RGS was a desperate attempt to compete with the rapidly advancing Japanese machinery becoming available, however despite its oh-so-eighties plastic bodywork it was mechanically stuck in the 70’s.

AGR_Strath_MVs (1)Completing the lineup was another Laverda model that I couldn’t pick. It looked to be a little newer in terms of tank design, but it still carried a legitimate cafe racer vibe.

AGR_Strath_MVs (3)Tacho deep into the red, speedo off the clock and chin tucked tight on the tank sounds good to me!

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

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