The Laverda Museum
The opening of the Laverda Museum, in the little village of Breganze in the region of Vicenza, northern Italy, had the character of a folk festival. Around 2,000 guests had gathered in the town center to enjoy the traditional food and wine while Piero Laverda, the former CEO of the motorcycle company founded in 1949 by his father, directed the festivities with plenty of charisma—as if he were still in charge of the endurance racing team.
Together with his late brother Massimo, he had been in charge of Laverda from the late 1960s until 1986. Massimo was the creative engineer who pushed the development of the company's first large-volume twin-cylinder bike, which was presented at a motorbike show in London in 1966. In 1968, the displacement was lifted to 750cc. Piero was the head of Laverda’s endurance racing team between 1969 and 1978, while both brothers acted as managing directors. In 1986, the Laverda family pulled out of the business that was continued with new owners until the year 2000 when Aprilia took over.
When Dutch Laverda collector Cor Dees’ intention to sell his bikes became public, Werner Ricciolini, an entrepreneur from Breganze, made contact with him and managed to acquire 81 bikes. The new Laverda Museum is located inside an old industrial building in the center of the town.
The opening festivities at the end of July had an almost religious character, when the former factory riders Augusto Brettoni, Roberto Gallina, Nico Cereghini, and Edoardo Dossena stepped on stage to tell racing stories from some 40 years ago. Every family in the village has a connection to Laverda’s history and all the guests had nothing but good things to say about the Laverda family. After a few glasses of wine, though, the mood turned gloomier when the conversation shifted to the 4x4 vehicle that swallowed up huge investments and was produced only in very small numbers.
Inside the Museum
Laverda’s first production motorcycle, the Laverda 75, welcomes the visitor right after the entrance. The bike features a frame made of pressed sheet metal and a drivetrain swingarm. Its fuel consumption was sensationally low at around 117 mpg. Due to a lack of space, many of the early models are placed in groups on relays, while others stand on the floor—including the 75cc factory bike that Genunzio Silvagni rode to win the 75cc class at the Giro d'Italia in 1956 and 1957.
On one side of the hall, an old drawing board with an original sketch of the six-cylinder V-engine is displayed and decorated with old leather racing suits hanging above. Historical photographs from the early days, books, engine parts, and other devotional objects complete the exhibition. Also on display is a full-size model of the V-6 engine, with some parts made of aluminum and others of wood. Right next to it is a prototype of the new DOHC 1000 three-cylinder engine from 1970.
Venturing further, you’ll come across the off-road Laverda 125 LH3 and 250 LH4 from 1982 and 1978 with Husqvarna engines. There’s also the beautiful but unsuccessful 250 Chott from 1974 with a single-cylinder two-stroke Laverda engine, featuring a magnesium engine housing.
At the end of the hall stands a high rack with road bikes, including the Zündapp-powered 125 LZ from 1978, and the 650cc and 750cc twin-cylinders from the 1990s with water-cooled engines.
The second room is dominated by the original 1000 V-6 racing bike from the 1978 Bol d’Or race in Le Castellet. On the left, there is a row of all kinds of 1000 and 1200 three-cylinder bikes, while on the right, the entire range of SF 750 models, plus a few SFC racing machines, are displayed.
Laverda’s attempt to enter 125 GP racing in 1989 with a two-stroke engine fed by a rotary valve intake is hardly known to the public. This bike was tested by the later world champion Alessandro Gramigni but had no follow-up. More successful was the 500 Formula, that served to run international clubraces between 1978 and 1980.
Large-scale sports pictures, for the most part still in black and white, adorn the walls of the halls. Celebrities such as Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, and Roberto Gallina can be seen in action, and even the racing career of Massimo Laverda is honored.
The museum is very tastefully arranged and furnished with a high standard of aesthetics. The bikes are clearly visible and placed without any barriers. Small information boards briefly tell the history of all the models and provide some information about technical features.
The Laverda Museum in Breganze has managed to gain a place among the best motorbike museums in the world. It’s small but extraordinarily tasteful.