The early versions of the 668 engine (and some later 650 engines as well) suffer from a number of problems, particularly in the engine area. These have resulted in Moto Laverda issuing maintenance bulletins to their distributors and, in theory at least, all unsold bikes at the time a fault was identified should have been rectified prior to sale and any bikes under warranty should have been upgraded at no cost to the owners. In practice this hasn't happened uniformly due to various circumstances, so there are an unknown number of bikes that really should have this work carried out. The latest rumour is that 3X, the UK distributor, and presumably Laverda themselves, will do ex gratia warranty upgrades provided the bike has traveled less than 10,000 kms.
For many people, a bike that has problems is by definition a lemon, and should be avoided at all costs. This point of view misses one of the fundamental aspects of owning a motorcycle, that indefinable affinity that develops for a particular machine with ownership. Some call this 'character', and Italian motorcycles, and Laverdas in particular, have this in spades! The fact that the factory, although small in comparison to most other makers, has stepped up to the plate and rectified many of the problems with bikes already sold, often well outside the warranty period, and also worked to incorporate changes into the design and manufacture of new bikes, has meant that many enthusiastic owners are more than happy with their bikes. Check through the problem areas and you'll see what I mean.
Marnix van der Schalk of the Netherlands, for a time the Dutch laverda importer and maintainer of the excellent 750 SFC Register site, has a very early 650. This is what he had to say on the subject, in response to a query on the Laverda mailing list about buying an unmodified low mileage early 650:-
"You could also just ride the bike and replace things as they become necessary. There is no danger in riding a bike that consumes oil and you can throw in new pistons when necessary. Of course I don't know if you will use the 650 intensively of course.
"Normally, the 650s don't start to use excessive amounts of oil before 15.000-20.000 km have been covered. Also a leaking exhaust valve is not very dangerous and recutting the valve seats usually does the trick.
"Fitting the oil pump + valve is useful of course but those are not the most expensive parts and the engine can stay in the frame.
"A broken regulator is not pleasant because you can be surprised by an empty battery at an unpleasant moment, but please realise that there are thousands of Guzzis, Ducatis and Laverda out there that still run with these regulators. (mine does too).
"The clip-ons are another story. They can break spontaneously and that can be quite tricky, even though my 'Zanini' 650 still has the originals and they still feel pretty strong. I check them for strength regularly."
An alternative source for information, especially useful if your dealer doesn't believe you when you say you found information on problems on the Internet, is Mick Walker's Twins and Triples book.
© Steve Carr, 2001-2007
Site created February, 2000. Last modified Friday, May 15, 2009
30 May 2005