EARLY YEARSLaverda began business in the late 1800's founded by Pietro Laverda Senior, however the name of Moto Laverda was due to the vision of Francesco Laverda who saw an opportunity in post-war Italy to produce cheap and efficient small motorcycles. Francesco was born in Breganze in 1911 and graduated in 1937 from the University of Padua with a degree in pure physics. Francesco and Luciano Zen hand built a prototype 75cc four stroke motorcycle between 1947-9 and with many refinements the 1950 Laverda 75cc was released. It was a single cylinder, two valve, pushrod 75cc four-stroke, 6.5:1 compression with an output of 3hp at 5200rpm. It had gear primary drive to a wet multiplate clutch and three speed transmission. The 65kg machine had a maximum speed of 70km/h. This bike soon became the basis of the first racing Laverdas (unless perhaps someone used to race the tractors!) which virtually dominated the endurance events they entered in the early fifties.
These racing bikes were quite incredible and according to the factory book, still hold the outright record for maximum specific power (hp/litre) produced by a four stroke with pushrods and rockers (naturally aspirated I presume). I think the output was around 8hp (107hp/litre!!) and I know first-hand from Massimo that they revved to 12,000rpm! A good indication of how these 'little bikes' performed was the 1953 Giro d'Italia where a Laverda 75 won it's category ridden by Guido Mariani at an average speed of 81.3km/h over 3049km!
The 75 was enlarged to 100cc in 1954 and continued Laverdas domination of long distance small-bore racing. In 1958 the 49cc 'Laverdino' moped was released once again featuring a single cylinder four stroke powerplant - though this time with pedals! By 1960 a 49cc two speed mini scooter was in production and in the ten years between 1950 and 1960 some 35,000 motorcycles had been produced.
1961 saw the birth of the first multi-cylinder Laverda- the 200cc twin. Going on sale in 1962 it had an output of 11hp at 6500rpm, enough to propel the 120kg bike to 110km/h.