Laverda Zane 650 668 and 750 Information Page

This information was rescued initially from the old Zane Laverda New Zealand website which was closing. Thanks to everyone involved at the start. I am glad I was able to rescue the information before it was lost. It relates in principle to the 650 and 668 but much of the info also applies to the later water cooled 750. It will take time to get everything posted and all the links checked but I have to start somewhere.

The Zane Laverda Twins

These pages are about the motorcycles in the Laverda 650/668 range as produced in Zane, Italy, between 1992 and 1999.  Laverda was sold to Aprilia in mid 2000.  With problems with parts supply etc during the transition to the new management, it is more important than ever for owners to pool our knowledge of these bikes.

Information comes from personal  experience, owning and living with  my two 1996 668 Sports, and the experiences of many others.  Some information from Moto Laverda has been included (with permission) .  Where possible sources are identified, and contact details given.

Pages are arranged in a number of sections, with overlaps in many places.  All related information should be checked to form a complete picture.  Also, as always with any information found on the Internet, don’t take anything you read here as gospel – it is, after all, only someone’s opinion!

Performance

The 668 already has a high performance motor, with a relatively sophisticated fuel injection system and a high state of overall engine tune.  There is always a fine balance that needs to be achieved between performance and reliability, so the path that any owner follows in the pursuit of performance should always be chosen carefully.

One factor that influences choices is the cost/benefit ratio.  If it requires spending large sums of money for a very small gain you may decide not to follow a particular path.

Performance improvements can be made to many different parts of the overall envelope, so an improvement in a particular area of the envelope may be of no real benefit to a rider who rarely, if ever, rides in that area.

Check out the combined wisdom and experience of other owners before making your own personal decisions.

Problems

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.

Should I Be Worried?

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.

Zane Laverda Servicing

Regular service, according to the Laverda service schedule, is essential to maintain your bike in top condition and ensure maximum longevity.  However, doing this can be difficult as Laverda is not a common brand and dealers with stocks of service parts may or may not be readily accessible.  My own dealer doesn’t seem to hold much, if any, service stock, so much so that they have missed replacing filters and plugs on occasion.  This has led to me having to locate suitable alternatives for a number of service parts.

To help make sense of the list shown in the owners manual, Matt Callaghan has developed a maintenance check sheet for his 668 – click here to see it.

Air Filter

I have managed to find an easily obtainable alternative for the air filter from the Volkswagen AG stable, as fitted to certain Golf etc models, so that at least is covered.  K&N also offer an alternative, once again designed for the Volkswagen cars.  Given that many people recommend de-restricting the airbox for performance reasons and even in extreme cases going to pod air filters, the filters that you may need for your bike may, of course, be different.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are an unusual size, and even though Champion is pretty easy to find as a brand, they are not readily available in the city in which I live. Here at least it probably pays to keep a spare set on hand

Zane Laverda Variants

So far I’ve not managed to find a definitive list of 650/668 variants.  The naming used is also complicated by the confusion in some quarters over whether any particular model from later years should be referred to as a 650 or a 668.  Perhaps the only official 668 models are the 668 Sport and 668 Diamante.

There were a number of changes made to the motors at various points, as there always are in the production life of anything mechanical, with the experience of real world use and problems feeding back to the factory.  Coupled with this, there were changes in ownership at the factory which contributed to differences in the source for motor components. 

A third reason for differences is that the motor has been used in various states of tune, depending on the intended use of the various chassis to which it has been fitted.  Also, the factory appears to have produced the bikes using a single serial number range for all model variants, with small batches of each type (perhaps) sharing a range of serial numbers. 

Add to this the departure from earlier Laverda practice which had frame and engine serial numbers assigned the same, and you can see that trying to find answers in this whole area is opening a veritable can of worms.

As Aurelio Lolli, current Sales and Marketing Manager at Moto Laverda said in an e-mail on the Laverda discussion list recently:-

“The technical upgrade and improvement of the 668 engines has been gradual and took place during several months, as soon as the tests on the road and on the dynamometer (which had been, evidently, non properly carried out by the former Management) shown that other improvements were working fine. In reality a 1999 668 engine is almost totally different from a 1997 unit, as well as it has a few differences also from a 1998 motor.

“The 668 received all the following major modifications:

  • – new material for the cylinder head casting;
  • – new design of the cylinder head, adding an air flow passage between the cylinders;
  • – new barrels, with an additional oil cooling circuit around the liners;
  • – 750 c.c. version crankcases;
  • – new pistons and rings (two different types, the first one implemented in 1998 and the second in 1999).

“All the above mentioned major modifications are added to several other ones, which took place on the course of the years, such as the EPROM, the clutch cluster, the voltage regulator, and many other details. The various modifications are not applied to the motorcycles following a precise model year policy, since they have been implemented as a matter of urgency during the standard manufacturing.”

Below is an (evolving) list of known variants.  The associated production numbers (is shown) are a best guess.

Known serial numbers for each of the ranges are listed in the individual model pages.  If you have a bike that corresponds to a particular variant, please send me an e-mail and I’ll amend the list with your serial numer(s).  This is particularly true if it has a serial number outside the ranges currently known or for which no serial numbers are shown

Quick Reference Chart of KnownVariants
VariantYear(s)Number madeNotes
Prototype 6501991?Apeared at show launch
Zanini 650 (initial)199220 +/-Homolugation model, can be recognised by a small round Laverda badge on the side of the fairing, close to the blinker.
Zanini 6501994 Production model, very small numbers, with ‘good’ quality engine castings
650 I.E. (Kevlar)1994-1995 Separate Kevlar Serie serial number plate, not assigned sequentially with frame numbers.  Mix of ‘good’ and ‘suspect’ quality engine castings.
650 I.E. (Fibreglass)1995  
650 I.E. (plastic)1995 Marnix saw one example on factory stand at a show, anyone know of others?
650 Formula1995 Different cams to 650, all black and some carbon fibre bits, carbon skinned exhausts
668 (WP suspension)April 1996 Supplied in red or yellow, fully faired, plastic
668 (Paoli suspension)June1996- end 1996 Supplied in red or yellow, fully faired, plastic
Diamante1997 Half faired variant of 668
Strike  Perimeter frame
Ghost Strike1997-1998? Small front fairing, perimeter frame
Ghost-2000 Trellis frame, naked bike
Black Strike1998-199950Limited edition, with all upper engine mods and the stronger 750 type bottom end
Ghost Legend  Special edition, with lots of unpainted carbon fibre components

Modifications

This chart is taken from a list sent to dealers by the factory and lists all modifications to the 650/668 motor and frame, up to frame numer 3032.  I suspect it doesn’t cover the very latest bikes, as there have been major changes in the bottom end of the latest 650 motors, to use the 750 cases etc, and these are not listed.  If anyone has access to a later list then I’ll gladly include it here.

My suspicion is that this only covers up until some time in 1997, when the Legend and Strike were first introduced.  Also, there is no reference here to the Ghost models.

The references within each description are to the Laverda parts manual and drawings.  Hopefully I will be able to obtain factory permission to reproduce the parts manual pictures on this site at some stage.  Until then, anyone with access to a parts manual will be able to use these references to check against their copies of the manual.  An asterix (*) in the notes indicates that the part number remains unchanged after the substitution.

Engine NumberFrame NumberModification
 1052On hydraulic clutch cover (ref 2/1) dowel 021006V01177 (ref 2/6) is no longer fitted.
 1091Rear chain turnbuckle* has been extended
 1220Carters with bearing seat (ref 4/6) has been temporary moved of 0.7 mm (only until frame no 1268)*
 1273Hole on the clutch/gearbox shaft changed from 6.5 dia to 6.25 * dia (ref 7/12) 1/4″ sphere (022006V01301) replaced with 6 mm sphere (025008000035) (ref 8/17)
 1285Countershaft (shorter on the pin side) 040001000030 changed with 040001000031 (ref 7/29) Hydraulic clutch cover 025003000023 changed with 025003000036 (ref 2/1)
 1388Aluminium instrument board plate replaced by a plastic one (ref 23/6) *
 1414Protection shield 055004000030 (ref 2/10) changed with one in plastic 058003V20039
 1461Clutch cover 025003000031 changed with 025003000035 (ref 2/23) Oil inlet plug 055004000011 changed with oil level rod 061009000116 (ref 2/25) Add qty 1 inner disc 046005000026 (ref 8/5) and qty 1 coated disc 046005000023 (ref 8/8) Clutch rod code 034002000038 changed with code 034002000043 (ref 8/15) Clutch housing 046005000032 changed with 046005000037 (ref 8/18)
 1494Fuel tank 061001000015W changed with 061001000032 (ref 12/22) Fuel level sensor 071003000010 (ref 12/10) changed with 071003000013 (ref 12/25) + fuel pump feeding 071001000045 (ref 12/26) Wiring system 071001000037 changed with 071001000042 (ref 25/2) Fairing instruments bracket 021001000113 changed with 021001000193 (ref 11/1) Rear mirrors bracket 021001000157 changed with 021001000229 (ref 11/4)
 1517Guage added to the revolution counter 019001000028 (ref 23/21)

1532Clutch side flywheel 040002000011 changed with 040002000014 (ref 4/9) 5 mm dia sphere 022008V01242 (ref 4/8) changed with 3×3.7 Woodruff key 033004V10606 PK rotor 021003000014 changed with 021003000030 (ref 2/35) M6x20 rotor fixing screw 030003V62083 (ref 2/32) changed with M15x1 nut 030016000019
 1546Exhaust camshaft 043004000005 changed with 043004000007 (ref 6/7) Inlet camshaft 043004000006 changed with 043004000008 (ref 6/14)
 1604M18x15 ring 030016000008 changed with clutch fixing nut 030016000022 (ref 8/9)
 1817Aluminium air inlet manifold 062001000031/32 changed with 062001000038 in plastic (ref 22/18)
1250 Gearbox shifting fork (ref 9/36) 043007V01080 changed with 043005000005 5-6 speed main gear 041001000053 changed with 041001000060 (ref 7/9)
 1389RH oil cooler 061009000072 and RH oil cooler 061009000071 changed with RH-LH oil cooler 061009000083 (ref 18/5) Oil cooler outlet piping 036001000032 and oil ccoler inlet piping 036001000033 changed with 90 degree union 037002000025 (ref 18/2) Head outlet piping 036002000031 (ref 18/11) changed with oil cooler outlet piping 036002000037 and oil cooler inlet piping 036002000036
 1501Frame 060001000107 changed with 060001000165 (ref 11/26) 30x55x19 taper roller bearing 022002000006 changed with 25x52x16.25 taper roller bearing 022002V08251 (ref 19/10) Ring nut 030016000015 changed with 030016000018 (ref 19/1) Steering head 060002000043 changed with 060002000062 (ref 19/2) Ring nut 030020000008 changed with 030020000007 (ref 19/8) Cover washer 033001000035 changed with 058001V00329 (ref 19/9) Lower fork plate 060002000048 changed with 060002000068 (ref 19/26)
 15255.50×17″ rear wheel rim 047005000031 changed with 5.00×17″ rear wheel rim 047005000037 (ref 22/3)
1601Sensor gasket 050003000026 changed with 050003000030 (ref 22/3)
1634 Shifting forks operating drum 043005000018 changed with 043005000024 (ref 9/15) 35x55x10 ball bearing 022001000011 changed with 35x55x9 ball bearing 022001V07301 (ref 9/14)
 1714Modification due to fuel pump feeding wire change:- Aluminium fuel tank 061001000032 changed with 061001000041 (ref 12/22) 108 O ring 055001V30008 changed with 2056 O ring 055001V30014 Fuel pump feeding 071001000045 changed with 071001000047
 2054RH rear mirror 061009000114 changed with 061009000153 LH rear mirror 061009000113 changed with 061009000154
2119 Modification due to increased oil flow Oil pump drive gear 041001V11309 changed with 041001000065 (ref 10/3) Oil pump operating pinion 041001V11308 changed with 041001000064 (ref 4/4) 2 Bar overpressure valve changed with 5 Bar valve * (ref 2/42)
2150 Modified cylinder machinery Cylinder head gasket set 019001000004 changed with 019001000005 (ref 1/48) Head gasket set 055001000042 changed with 055001000085 (ref 1/46)
2188 25x62x17 ball bearing 022001V01251 changed with 022001000013 (ref 7/2)
 2273RH upper spacer 034003000057 (ref 11/52) changed with 034003000090 RH lower spacer 034003000058 (ref 11/53) changed with 034003000091 LH upper spacer 034003000059 (ref 11/54) changed with 021003000048 LH lower spacer 034003000060 (ref 11/55) changed with 021003000048
2365 Driven pressure disc 046005000022 changed with 046005000027 (ref 8/4) Ball bearing 022001V07121 (ref 8/6) changed with 022004000020 (ref 8/7)
2794 M6x30 stud 031001V22122 (ref 10/15) changed with TCEI M5x20 screw 03003V62083
3032 Counterweights cover 025003000051 for Strike model (ref 2/55) Counterweights cover 025003000050 for Legend model (ref 2/55) Clutch cover oil pipe 036002000044 (ref 2/59)

650 Prototype

The original 650 frame was developed in the Netherlends by Niko Bakker.  This frame was equipped with a 600 cc motor.  Somehow or other one of these bikes made its way to the Laverda factory and formed the basis of the later 650/668 model range. 

Widely praised as having one of the best handling frames in the world at the time, the bikes have been accussed, perhaps unfairly, of being under powered – a great frame in search of a motor.  This is, as always, only a point of view, and many owners are more than happy with their bikes performance in real world riding.

There is some excellent historical information on the early development and prototype 650 motorcycles in the excellent book by Mick Walker, “Laverda Twins and Triples”.  This book was published in 1999, so should be reasonably easy to find.  Another source of information on the origins of these bikes is the page on the ‘Little Twins‘ by Stephen Battison of Australia, on his excellent Laverda in Australia web site..

Zanini 650

These early bikes were produced while the factory was under the control of the Zanini incarnation of Laverda.  They came in a variety of colours, and are easily distinguished from later 668 fully faired models in that they have a single rectangular headlight.  All came fitted with WP suspension. 

The first 20 or so bikes were produced in 1992, and were sent to various distributors in the intended initial markets as a homolugation model.  These bikes can be readily identified by a combination of very low frame numbers and a small round Laverda badge on the side of the fairing, close to the blinker.

The engine castings used are regarded to be of better quality material than those of the later Tognon era 650’s, and have not been reported to suffer from the casting related failures associated with the later bikes.  They do still have the Ducati voltage regulator, and the very first homolugation models are reputed to have an ‘experimental’ version of the Weber Marelli control unit that is not as reliable as those on later bikes.

Production numbers were very small, with possibly fewer than 100 total bikes being produced before the start of the Tognon era.

Kevlar Series

These were the first of the true production run of the new 650 range and predated the I.E.  Initially announced as being a limited production run of 100, the main difference from that later 650 I.E. is the lighter and stonger carbon fibre body work.  There were in fact many more of these machines produced than 100, as shown by the bike details recorded below. 

Lower serial numbered bikes have the earlier Zanini era castings, but that does not of itself mean that they should not be upgraded to the later, redesigned, head, barrels and pistons.  

These bikes have bodywork manufactured in kevlar, which is lighter and stronger than either fibreglass or plastic equivalents.  It is, unfortunately, also a more expensive material and more diffucult and expensive to repair. 

Each Kevlar Serie bike has a serial number plate attached that indicates that it is part of the series.  Serial numbers were not assigned in the same order as frame or engine numbers.  Lack of a serial number plate does not necessarily mean the bike is not a Kevlar Serie, as apparently the fixing method for the plate is not totally reliable and they have a tendency to fall off.

These bikes came in red, yellow, green, and blue, although at the initial product launch there was supposed to be a silver option, and a silver bike has appeared in an Alan Cathcart road test.

Early bikes (with frame/engine numbers in the around 1100 or less) have the Zanini manufactured components, later bikes the more troublesome Tognon era parts.  They all have WP forks, I believe.

Frame NoEngine NoKevlar SerieOwner/Source
11991199156Andy Morgan saw this bike for sale, UK
1102110260Marnix van der Schalk, NL
1100110061Rudd Pothoven, NL.  Red
1099-11041099-110457-61Batch of five imported to NL
13411341 1743298 Martin Damsma, NL.  The original engine was replaced with a 1999 spec 668 motor, with 750 type bottom end
11511151110Steve King, UK
14391439?Siegfried Haas, D.  Kevlar Serie has fallen off.  Red, imported to Germany spring, 1995
14421442?Siegfried Haas, D.  Kevlar Serie has fallen off.  Red, imported to Germany spring, 1995
14501450399Siegfried Haas, D.  Red, imported to Germany spring, 1995

650 IE

The early 650 publicity shot below shows a bike with badges that designate them as being a 650 Sport.  However, when the bikes were manufactured the Sports part of the designation didn’t make it on to the bikes fairing, and the official Laverda designation for the bikes was 650 I.E. where the I.E. stands for “Iniezione Elettronica”, or “injection electronic”.  Available in four colours (red, yellow, green, and blue) and with fibreglass fairings, these bikes were produced after the Kevlar Serie, and represented a lower priced and less exclusive option.

Two variants exist – those with the earlier Zanini engine castings and those from the later Tognon era with the suspect metallurgy.

650 Formula

A further attempt by the factory to introduce a more exclusive and hence higher priced model, the 650 Formula was intended as a road legal race bike, based on the 650 I.E.  Supplied in black only, these bikes had performance modifications made to improve top speed, particularly hotter cams, as well as a number of carbon fibre fittings and Lanfranconi exhausts, skinned in carbon fibre.  Racing Termignoni’s were also available. 

Unfortunately, the engine tuning changes make the bike a far less civilised package at lower speeds and many reviewers commented at the time that they had a power output profile very similar to that of two stroke motors.  Early Formulas have fibreglass fairing parts, later bikes have plastic.

These bikes suffered from the poorer quality Tognon era engine castings and are fitted with the Ducati regulators.  They also had the expansion box exhaust system, so would benefit from the later X piece.

668 Sport

Produced entirely in 1996, these bikes came in both red and yellow.  The factory site publicity phots showed them as being fitted with self coloured mirrors and rear seat covers, although the ones that made it to New Zealand all had black mirrors and lacked the rear seat cover.  They had the exhaust expansion box fitted as standard. 

Given the model was produced before any of the engine upgrades, and well after supplies of the original engine castings were exhausted, all these bikes should have the engine upgrades fitted.  They also benefit from a chip upgrade to remove the flat spot in the earlier mapping.  The first models produced came fitted with WP suspension, both front and back, the later bikes have Paoli suspension.

668 Diamante

This was a Ghost with 668 type body parts, fitted with a half fairing.  The half fairing pieces are not the same as those for the 750 S half fairing bikes, with a different, more triangular shape.   Production numbers are unknown at this stage.  The US market got a further variant, a Diamante with a beam frame.

Internet Links

Books

Factory 50th Anniversary book, The Story of a  Passion, covering the period 1947-1997. Laverda part number is  0940030000005.   This was initially a limited edition, numbered set, but was  subsequently reprinted and may still be available. The reprint is still  expensive, and probably nowhere near as collectable, but still worth it.

  • Introduction
  • Francesco Laverda, a man, an idea: the motorcycle
  • The Moto Laverda production from 1950 to 1967
  • Laverda 750
  • Laverda 1000 e Laverda 1200
  • Laverda 500 e Laverda 350
  • Laverda 1000 V6
  • Off-road
  • Laverda 125
  • Laverda x 4
  • Laverda prototype
  • Intenational I.MO.LA Moto Laverda

Mick Walker’s Laverda Twins and Triple has  quite good information on the Zane era bikes and the Breganze small twins that  lead up to them

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