1978 Laverda Jarama 1000

1978 Laverda Jarama 1000

When I decided to go looking for a Laverda triple in the summer of 2005 I contacted Wolfgang Haerter of Columbia Car & Cycle, the main purveyor of Laverda parts in North America. He told me about a restored and “Jota-ized” Jarama (the American market version of the 3CL) that was for sale by Randall Henningsen, a mechanic at Cascade Motors in Portland. Wolfgang had taken an RGS in trade for the Jarama and then helped Randall with the restoration and upgrades and could vouch for its quality. On that basis I had no qualms about sending $5250 to Randall without seeing the moto in person.

Soon after arrival

This is serial number 6003, build date September 1977, so an early 1978 model. The Jarama/3CL was the “standard” Laverda triple at the time, but it was the basis for the famous Jota which the Slater Brothers in England had prototyped as the 3C/E in 1975 and which was then introduced by the Laverda factory as a standard model in 1976. The main differences for the Jota were higher compression, a hotter camshaft and a more free-flowing exhaust system, all of which turned an already fast motorcycle into the fastest production motorcycle of its day (with some harrumphing by Kawasaki Z1 owners), first to be clocked at 140+ mph.

This Jarama has been fitted with a DMC ignition, original Jota pistons, 10:1 Mondials (the last ones Wolfgang had), a Jota exhaust system and Axtell cams. The Axtell cams emphasize the mid-range, where the original Jota cams were oriented to top end performance (thus 140 mph) but were miserable below about 5000 rpm. Randall had it on a dynomometer and saw 67-69 HP at the rear wheel, probably less than a pure Jota would pull but the boost in mid-range performance makes it a thrill to ride. The Jarama came to me with the cross-over shifting mechanism that was mandated in the U.S. at that time, but I have since removed it and gone back to right-side shift.

Despite the superb quality of the restoration of the Jarama it took a while to bring it to the state of being a reliable rider. I think that is almost universally true, as the only sure way to have a reliable rider is to actually ride it a lot and deal with whatever goes wrong. More about that soon.