From Stephen Anstis of Motorcycle Mania: Belt-drive Laverda Triple!
Introduced in 1976, the Laverda Jota 1000 was destined to be the hot-rod masterpiece from the small Italian firm, a 90-bhp triple-cylinder muscle bike born in the hands of the company’s UK importers, the Slater brothers. In order to go racing, the Slaters outfitted a Laverda 3CL with high-lift cams, high-compression pistons, and free-breathing pipes, then convinced the factory to incorporate their modifications into a production model they called the Jota:
“Jota, a dance from the Spanish province of Aragon, is set in three-four time, Roger Slater’s sly reference to the beast’s uneven beat. You’re close enough if you pronounce it ‘hotter.’ Another bilingual pun, perhaps? ” –Roadrunner
Multiple sources claim the Laverda was the fastest production bike at the time of its introduction, and unlike a lot of the muscle bikes of the era, it could handle, too:
“Although the big Laverda required plenty of muscle to change direction…its reasonably stiff frame and taut suspension gave very competitive cornering performance. That was confirmed on the racetrack, where the Slaters’ rider, Peter ‘PK’ Davies, wrestled a Jota to three National production race championships in the late Seventies.” –Hagerty
Still, the big air-cooled Italian engine was the star of the show. Robert Smith of Motorcycle Classics describes the experience of meeting a Jota owner outside a pub in British Columbia:
“He thumbs the 1,000cc triple’s starter. The tarmac shudders as the beast comes alive with a bellow, its raucous beat echoes off the pub wall and stray gusts of exhaust beat at my face. It has the seething, restrained menace of an offensive lineman just before the snap.” –Motorcycle Classics
One thing you don’t see too often is a heavily modified Jota 1000, as they’re relatively rare machines even in original trim. But at the recent Bike Shed Moto Show in London, our photographer Roberto Garagarza (@roga______/) spied this 1983 Laverda 120 Jota — the last and most sophisticated of the series, named for the 120º crank phasing.
We had to know more and soon tracked down the owner, Stephen Anstis of Motorcycle Mania, who left a career in engineering to open his own business selling motorcycles in Frome, Somerset — a business he’s now had for more than 40 years! To this day, motorcycles remain the focal point of his life:
“Eat, sleep, and dream about bikes.”
His goal with this build was to make those dreams a reality — to build his dream bike. The modifications are staggering, including a mono-shock conversion, single-sided swingarm, and custom belt drive! The bike is also sporting a custom subframe, custom bodywork, modern inverted forks with Nissin brakes, lightweight wheels, and much more.
Appropriately nicknamed the “Tasty Triple,” this custom Jota is substantially leaner and meaner than the original — in fact, Stephen says it’s more than 50 kg lighter than the original, which had a curb weight of ~265 kgs (583 lbs):
“90 BHP. 50 kgs less than original donor bike: 215kgs wet.”
We aren’t the only ones in love with this Italian dream machine. The “Tasty Triple” took home the Judges’ Excellence Award in the Custom Freestyle category last weekend at the Kickback Thruxton Show — congrats, Stephen!
Below, Stephen gives us a few more details about himself and the “Tasty Triple.”
Laverda Jota Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Run my own business selling motorcycles in Frome (for over 40 years) after leaving my career in engineering. Eat, sleep, and dream about bikes.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1983 Laverda 120 Jota
• Why was this bike built?
My own personal goal to design my own dream bike.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Nice street bike, very usable.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Rear frame and sub frame. Belt drive, mono-shocked, and more.
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, etc.?
90 BHP. 50 kgs less than original donor bike: 215kgs wet.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“The Tasty Triple.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
Great, goes, stops, and sits well on the road, sounds amazing.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The belt drive conversion.
• Is there anyone you want to thank?
My mate Ted and my wife for putting up with me.