1984 Laverda Jota RGA 1000
I think it was somewhere around 1980 that a good friend showed up at the surf shop where I worked on a beautiful Ducati 900SS. The green frame, the exquisite body work and the sound of the Ducati twin through the Conti mufflers, I was awestruck, and the grin on Phil’s face was so huge it didn’t fit in his helmet. That day was one of the best I have had because he let me take it for a ride, not just around the block, but a real ride. I came back about two hours later with the same grin.
Phil and I did a few rides together over the next couple of months and after each one he complained more about his Ducati and liked my Honda more. But…the Honda didn’t have the personality of the Italian twin. The poor guy was struggling with what to do, get rid of the Ducati and buy a vanilla Honda or learn to live with his Italian stallion. The answer came in a bright orange package from Breganze, Italy, Phil’s new Laverda Jota 1000. The best of both worlds.
Again, I got to ride Phil’s bike and was again in love with an Italian motorcycle. The Laverda didn’t have the svelte lines of the Ducati, nor did it have the soul stirring sound and feel that the Ducati produced but, soul it had…wrapped in bright orange. The big triple was loaded with brute power, stable handling and a song I still have in my head. The Jota was bigger and heavier than both his old Ducati and my Honda but once you got it up to speed, all that heft simply melted away. My Honda could get into the corners a little quicker (I had done some modifications..) but the Jota would be right on my rear wheel and not even breathing hard. After a few rides on the Laverda I really believed that I could set the bike into a corner, let go of the handlebars and it would guide itself through the apex. It was wonderful.
Now, after waxing poetic about the Laverda, here’s the real deal. It is one big, heavy and a bit cumbersome motorcycle. It’s made for riders around 5’10” and up…6′ is about right to be comfortable (the bike is tall), you need ‘Popeye’ forearms to use the clutch and the gear box requires a pretty heavy foot, Brembo brakes are good not great and the suspension is a bit harsh, vibrated a lot and you have to change the oil every 1500 miles. With all that said, I’ll go back to paragraph three and tell you again, I loved that motorcycle.
Today I found on e-bay a very nice, I mean VERY nice, Laverda RGA1000. The RGA is an outgrowth of the RGS which in turn was born from the Jota. The difference between the RGA and the RGS is very minor. The RGA has a handlebar mounted fairing vs. the RGS frame mounted version and the RGA gas tank is sculpted a bit differently. The RGA was designed to be Laverda’s ‘Sport Tourer’ of the time. The Jota I rode had the crank timing at 180*, and it vibrated a lot (for me that was part of the attraction actually?!), in later models like the one I found today on ebay has the newer 120* timing and is noticeably smoother. These motorcycles are incredibly durable and parts are still available without breaking the bank.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. This is a really nice bike to ride, not hide.