Laverda 500 Alpino


Make Model

Laverda 500 Alpino




Four stroke, parallel twin cylinders, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder


497 cc / 30.2 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 72 x 61 mm
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 9.6:1


2x 32mm Dell'Orto carburetors


Electric CDI 
Starting Electric

Max Power

44 hp / 32.1 kW @ 9500 rpm

Max Torque

44.7 Nm / 33 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm


6 Speed
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

Marzocchi telescopic forks

Rear Suspension

Marzocchi 5-way adjustable shocks

Front Brakes

2x 260mm discs 2 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 260mm disc 1 piston caliper

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre


Dry Weight

175 kg / 385.8 lbs
Wet Weight 189 kg / 416.7 lbs

Fuel Capacity

13.5 Litres / 3.5 US gal

Consumption Average

43 mpg

Standing ¼ Mile  

14.0 sec  /  93 mph

Top Speed

107.2 mph

The HE NAME Laverda has always stood for quality— quality engineering, quality finish, and that Italian flag emblazoned through the L means that Laverda is one of the finest Italian motor cycles.

The big news from Laverda is that three new superblkes have been added to their range this year—Increasing their 1,000cc offering to five bikes. But taking a backseat position behind the Jotas and Corsas is a machine some call the half Jota, the Alpino.
This little beauty comes in two versions, the standard 500T or the sporty 500S. It's the 500T that I have been testing over the past couple of weeks, and I've found it most of all an evergreen machine. Unlike a lot of machines it could be a new model—although it's been in production for over half a decade, with little or no change. Not highly priced, like most of the other Laverdas, the Alpino is only slightly more expensive than its main rivals. In one case (BMW R45), it's cheaper by £161.00. The Alpino's price tag of £1,999, for both the standard and sport models, puts it In reach of the motor cyclist looking for a new machine of around 500cc.

Compared to some others in that class the Alpino Is rather basic, being only a parallel twin. But it's nice to see the sport version is the same price.
At the Laverda Importers— Three Cross Motorcyles—they told me the Alpino appeals to the older rider, who maybe already owns a larger Laverda but wants another machine for everyday riding. I tend to agree. Riding the Alpino reminds me very much of our long term Triumph TSS.

This is because both have twin cylinder, eight valve engines with lots of torque at low revs, and both are mechanically noisy—the Laverda not quite so noisy as the Triumph.
The heavily finned motor is happy whether plodding or screaming. It has to be revved hard to make it fly, but the four stroke tends to smooth you into plodding most of the time. The thunderous noise produced from the exhaust was everything you could expect from a Laverda.

I didnt have the chance to speed test the Alplno myself, and had to leave It in the capable hands of Road Test Editor Mat Oxley. Speed, though, wont be the main consideration of the Alplno owner. It managed a quite respectable mean top speed of 103.44mph. This was 1mph less than when we last tested the Alplno In 1977. It's interesting to compare the top speed with the Alplno S, tested in 1978, even though the 'S' has a performance camshaft and a higher compression ratio the top speed was only 105.15mph.
The only other twin cylinder machines In that class to beat the Laverda are the Yamaha XS400 and the Honda CX500— both of which recorded 104.44mph and 104.61 mph respectively.

The quarter mile times are again in keeping with the other speeds. At 14.17sec/90.47mph, the 500T is slower than the last Alpino test, slightly quicker than the Alpino S, but this time quicker than the Honda CX500.
The top speeds were all achieved In sixth gear, unlike the last model where sixth was unusable. This model proved not to have the same trouble — although the fifth and sixth overall ratios were very close, with fifth being 6.48:1 and sixth 6.03:1.

The gearbox was very precise and slick. Up or down changes were good, and it was very easy to slip it into neutral from first gear at a standstill. Much better than the other Laverda on test at the same time, the RGA.

The engine is fed by a couple of Dell'Orto 32mm carbs with the choke fitted on to the left hand one. It was tricky to flick the lever on and off due to it being right behind one of the two fuel taps. The choke worked well, bringing the engine on to a fast idle speed of 3,500rpm, useful In winter but not needed during high summer. You'd think that with a pair of 32mm DeH'Ortos that the Alpino would be thirsty—but happily the opposite happened in practice. All the mpg figures were between 51 and 49, which would give a good average of around 50mpg if it were not for a low 35.8mpg at MIRA. This brought the overall mpg down to a lowish 44.6, the lowest of our comparisons except for the Alpino S. Most riders will not get such a low figure as 35.8mpg, even with fast motorway riding, and so should expect a higher average.

Motorway riding is comfortable at anything up to the legal limit, above this vibration took its toll—mostly through the bars. Sustained riding speeds of above 90mph were impossible, but at 70-75mph you could last all day. The riding position again reminded me of the Triumph TSS—upright with straight bars, and sitting quite high up. The seat height at 32 inches is higher than normal. My first impression of the seat was that It was rock hard. But during the test I concluded that it was merely firm. It did support very well on long rides, unlike a super soft seat that will feel OK
on short distances but will hurt like hell on any Journey over 50 miles.

To aid the riding position the footrests (which were polished alloy) were adjustable forward or backWard.
Soaking up the bumps on the front and rear were, as usual, the nearly unbeatable Marzocchi units. The rear shocks were the standard type, without the remote reservoirs but good anyway. The front end was fitted with black telescopic units that did prove just a little soft under heavy braking during our braking distance test.

The rear units, if anything, are a little on the hard side—the norm with standard Marzocchis. They were not so hard that they made riding uncomfortable, but just the right balance so that it handled fine.
Moving down to the brakes. Again, all Italian motor cycles now use the Brembo set-up, single disc on the rear and twin disc on the front. I've praised Brembos so much before for their progressive feel and sure stopping ability that again I have got to say the same things. The stopping distances speak for themselves—27ft from a true 30mph and 114ft from a true 60mph. A true 60mph being an indicated 62imph on the Japanese speedo.

To quote from a past Laverda road test, written by our fearless editor Graham Sanderson: "The Italians' realising that they are to electrics what Charlie Chaplin is to the Royal Ballet, have changed over to Japanese electrics". This sums up what the Italians electrics were like. Now a few years later the combination of Japanese and German wizards Bosch makes the electrics almost perfect.
The warning lights included a generator light which would come on if the Bosch generator packed up—unlikely but a useful light not fitted to most models. The electric start is powerful and only needed a few
turns before the engine would start. Best of all was the 60/55 watt halogen Bosch headlight that shone its way ahead twice as powerful as most units fitted to middleweight bikes.

About the only thing Laverda have skimped on throughout the bike is the lack of any wing mirrors fitted as standard. This I find unacceptable, and totally out of character with the standard Laverda approach on their other machines. Listen Laverda, if you do start to fit wing mirrors on the Alpino please do not make them like the ones fitted on to the new RGA—they fell off at 125mph!
The quality of the machine, as I've said before, is excellent. Laverda have skimped on some of the extras, making it a little basic, mainly to keep the price down. The essential parts of the bike are all good quality, and I found It pleasant to ride a bike that's different from the crowd.

Source Motorcycle Weakly