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Falloon on Laverda 750 SFC

              750 SFC

(February 2022)

From author Ian Falloon:

Today we are used to sanitary motorcycles, machines that are easy to operate and packed with user-friendly features. Life was not always like this, and in Northern Italy during the 1960s and 1970s Laverda specialized in producing single purpose motorcycles.

Outlandish and brutal, and designed for the alpine roads on their back doorstep, the 750 SFC was the ultimate early 1970s factory racer. There were others, like the Ducati 750 Super Sport, MV Agusta 750S, and Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, but the 750 SFC was different. This was a masculine motorcycle, muscular, and bursting with testosterone.

Always conceived as an endurance racer, the 750 SFC (Super Freni Competizione, or super brakes competition) was built to last. It was the success of the SFC in endurance racing from 1971 until 1973 that did much to create the Laverda reputation for robustness and exceptional all round performance. The bright orange colour scheme of the factory racers would become an SFC (and ultimately a Laverda) trademark.

Each SFC was hand-made in batches by the competition shop and while a few were produced from 1971, most were built in 1974 (as seen here) and into 1975. Based on the production 750 SF, the engine specification was unremarkable, and certainly not as exotic as the desmodromic Ducati or double overhead camshaft MV.

When Laverda embarked on the design a large capacity twin back in 1966, company chief Massimo Laverda had his designer Luciano Zen analyse and copy a Honda 305cc Super Hawk parallel twin because it had a proven record of reliability. Although it differed in a number of design details, the 360-degree parallel twin engine layout was similar to most British twins for example, unlike the British twins the pressed up crankshaft included central roller bearings. Primary drive was by triplex chain, and the single overhead camshaft duplex chain driven.

Other Honda-inspired features included the cast-iron skull combustion chamber. On the 750 SFC the 80x74mm engine included a lighter crankshaft, polished con-rods, and higher compression pistons, and with a pair of 36mm Dell’Orto concentric carburettors the 750 SFC produced a claimed 75 horsepower at 7500 rpm.

Just about every component was produced specifically for the 750SFC. While the zinc-plated open cradle frame was similar in design to the 750SF, it was quite different, particularly for the 1974 and 1975 versions. These examples also included a larger diameter (38mm) Ceriani front fork, and triple Brembo disc brakes. Although weighing a considerable 230kg, the wheelbase was a moderate 1460mm and the tall SFC was a competent handler.

Everything about it screamed racing, particularly with the optional two-into-one megaphone exhaust. The rider stretched out over the long 25-litre fibreglass fuel tank to crouch under the lowest fairing screen of any production motorcycle.

Although one concession was made to civility, an electric start, the 750SFC was not designed for tooling around town. The 750 SFC was a raw open road motorcycle par excellence. While the big twin vibrated, and the controls were heavy, one ride could convince the rider they were flat out at the Bol d’Or.

Stability was unquestioned and the top speed was close to 210 km/h. But eventually time caught up with the 750 SFC. Larger capacity Japanese multis were now winning endurance racers, and Laverda’s own double overhead camshaft 1000 provided more performance.

The hand-built 750 SFC was expensive to produce, and becoming difficult to sell. The 750 twin died, and while the 1000 triple also became an SFC in 1985, Laverda folded soon afterwards. After several botched resurrection attempts Laverda now seems destined to remain in history but the distinctive, beautiful, and functional the 750 SFC will never be forgotten.

Falloon's Facebook page can be found here;

And his website here.


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