Photos by Sid Tangerine
July's window bike is another Italian beauty from our friend Steve's collection. This particular bike sat unused in a garage since 1979 and was refurbished in 2014. We're happy to have it in our window for the month of July. Keep reading for a great write up from Steve on how he came to be the care-taker of this Italian beauty!
This 1973 Laverda 750 SF1 came to me out of the blue. I got a phone call one evening from Allan Howard who had the bike, was about to move and needed to sell it to someone who would restore it. The bike did not present well: it was rusty, dusty and musty. Spider egg sacs had taken over every nook and cranny. The left carb was off the bike, the intake manifold was wide open. The license plate on the bike read 1979 - the last time it had been ridden! The odometer showed 6,842 miles. The bike had dunstall mufflers and fairing installed, but otherwise was all original.
After a good cleaning I did an inventory of what was needed, and by the time I'd finished I had installed the following: bosch ignition switch, battery, brake shoes & springs, wheel bearings, cush drive bearings, sprockets, chain, footpeg rubbers, air filter, grips, new cables all around, a new set of handlebars, side cover and tank badges. The mufflers and the chain guard were too far gone to even rechrome, so I replaced them with new Contis and a new two-piece chain guard.
I installed IKON shocks rather than rebuilding the Cerianis, though I keep those for shows. For the front end all I needed to do was change the fork oil - the springs, the seals and the dust covers were fine.
I checked and lubed the swingarm bushes and the steering head bearings but didn't replace them. I sonically cleaned and rebuilt the carbs. Turns out the original carb problem was a leaking manifold seal, which I replaced.
I replaced the points with the Moto Witt DMC2 electronic ignition. It offers 15 advance curves, most of which eliminate or greatly reduce pinging.
For tires I chose my current favourite rubber: the Continental ClassicAttack for the rear, and a Continental Road Attack CR for the front (they don't make the ClassicAttack in an appropriate size 18). I had the bodywork matched and painted by my local auto body shop.
The 'Super Freni' brakes that the 'SF' refers to may have been super back in 1973, but they are just OK these days. The front brake has lots of feel but takes a mighty pull. On the other hand the rear brake is just about exactly how I want a rear brake to be. Drum-braked Laverdas used the same double-leading shoe arrangement both front and rear. In fact the backing plates are interchangeable. Additionally, they are designed with air scoops and a kind of double liner that keeps them waterproof!
The SF1 vibrates noticeably, in fact shaking when at idle, but there are smooth spots all along the rev range. For example, 70mph is just under 4,000 rpm and is quite tingly, whereas 80mph is 4,500 rpm and is smooth as silk. The bike really shines at that speed - it stays right on its line and feels firmly connected to the ground. The engine is willing and seems to settle into the journey. The riding position is altogether comfortable and that dunstall half-fairing pushes the wind away. It gets about 125 miles before needing to be refueled.
As I was restoring the bike I'd kept the original owner, Allan, abreast of the bike's condition and when it was done I invited him and his wife to drop by. Allan's health had deteriorated and he wasn't able to take the bike for a spin, but he did have a good look. He started it up and played with the throttle for a bit listening to that sweet exhaust note. Sadly he died just 7 weeks later. I was happy that he'd had the chance to see his prized possession restored to a semblance of its former glory.
The SF1 is fun to ride, it just may be my favourite!