The early spring and fair weather we have enjoyed in Minnesota apparently grows motorcycles as well as it grows tomatoes. A rider can hardly pick up a newspaper or walk onto a dealer’s showroom floor without coming across an announcement for a new factory in the works here in Minnesota or encountering a new European brand fresh off the boat.
The newest immigrant is the resurrected Laverda. This line of parallel twins successfully meets the challenge of the famous Laverda twins of old and convincingly renews and reinvigorates the Laverda legacy.
One morning last week I had the pleasure of parking the venerable Seca Turbo for a day and riding off on a brand new Laverda Ghost. A couple miles down the road I pulled into a gas station and received the first surprise of the day: there was no fuel filler cap in the usual fuel filler cap location. I stepped back and eyed the lock on the passenger seat pad. I squatted next to the bike and peered up between the frame and the engine. There the fuel tank was, resting between the seat and motor. The passenger seat pad unlocked with the ignition key and hinged forward to reveal a tool set and the fuel filler cap.
Fueled up and traveling north on 35W, I looked down at the odometer as I neared Lake Street and was flabbergasted to see the needle pointing at the 100 mark. This certainly did not feel like 100 miles per hour. A Glance over at the Geo Metro effortlessly keeping pace with the Ghost led me to realize that this was what it felt like to go 100 kilometers per hour. At the day’s first stop I closely examined the Ghost for any more trick-or-treats, but the inspection revealed only Laverda’s commitment to quality and continuation of the company’s sporting tradition.
The components are all top shelf–Marchesini wheels, Paioli fork and Brembo brakes. The engine is a 668cc parallel-twin with four valves per cylinder and fuel injection. Engine cooling is supplied by oil and air with a large oil cooler hanging to the outside of each exhaust header. The steel trellis frame, lack of a fairing, premium running gear and the name on the tank (err, airbox cover) invite comparisons to Ducati’s Monster, and the Ghost certainly looks like it will do well.
It was time for Associate Editor Victor Wanchena to take the Ghost out for a few hours (which was just as well since it looked like rain). When he arrived at the meeting spot we went over the quirks, and I mentioned that the idle was a bit off. We agreed that it is not uncommon for a new model to need some adjustment to the fuel injection mapping. It’s no big deal for the mechanics back at the dealer, but we had only a day and would have to live with the problem.
Victor turned the Ghost back over to me with impeccable timing; the rains had just passed. I spent a few hours enjoying some saddle time. The bike leapt forward from a standing start surprising me with the quantity of low-end power. At speed and on twisty roads the Ghost liked to be busy. If I let the revs drop too low the Ghost began to rattle its bones and make a little noise. Luckily, Laverda had supplied a six-speed gear box and some fairly active use of the shift lever kept the bike pushing smoothly forward happily making horsepower.
Handling and braking departments left me with nothing to complain about. The Ghost steered a bit more heavily than a Ducati Monster, but then again so does everything else. Seating position, handlebar position and overall comfort level scored very high marks with this five foot ten inch rider.
Laverda has built the Ghost to inhabit the upper reaches of the Hooligan Bike nether world. Though it appears the Ghost has been rushed to the American market, uncompromising and dedicated sport riders should be thrilled that Laverda is back.