Jean Louis OLIVE needs no introduction, great enthusiast and legendary expert for the Laverda world, managing a respectable website, www.laverdamania.net, virtual crossing point for Laverda owners from all over the world. Jean Louis met Laverda in 1976 during a test of a Laverda 750 SF, and since then he got the spark for Breganze’s bikes and for Italian bikes in general. Numerous books relating to Laverda have been written by Jean Louis in the last 15 years, including «Legendary Laverda” (2006, English version) and« Laverda 1000 V6, Formula 1 on 2 wheels » written in 2016 with the collaboration of Piero Laverda. Motociclo Italiano has the pleasure of interviewing him and knowing him more closely.
Your passion for Laverda is exemplary, the numerous books written are known and published everywhere. Do you think there is still room for research (for new discoveries)?
There is still a lot of room for research! Firstly, because time flies and memories fade, which is quite normal. I have had many contacts while I was writing Laverda books and it was obvious that there were often quite important differences between the memories. Only a great work of cross-checking information finally made it possible to retrace the true story. Also because the knowledge of the best years of the Italian mechanical industry is less precise today than 20 or 30 years ago, mainly due to globalization. It is important to keep working to remind the public (especially the younger generation) all these glorious times.
The fans who contact you through your website come from all over the world. Is it proof that Laverda has left an indelible and engaging mark?
Absolutely. Laverda is a unique Italian brand, with specific high performance and high-quality products. In addition to the fact that many of its models were legendary, such as the 1000 3C, first true superbike on the market, the Jota, fastest production bike in the world in 1976 and the 1000 V6, there aren’t many vintage bikes that are able to reach a minimum of 150,000 km without major mechanical repair. And all Laverda bikes have a unique character, perfectly representative of Italian sports motorbike. All of this is what makes these bikes so special.
It is clear that the new generations are interested in other passions, what would you suggest to bringing young people closer to the sector of historic motorcycles?
Our generation is directly responsible for transmitting the passion for historic motorcycles to the youngest.
It is necessary to communicate, and communicate again, on the glorious years of the Italian motorcycle industry, to demonstrate that historic motorcycles are a means to distinguish themselves from the uniformity of the motorcycle market, encourage young people to train in applied mechanics as an artistic discipline, demonstrating that this discipline is a fundamental part of the culture.
This can be done through books, events for historical vehicles, specialized exhibitions and even new mechanical realizations using the technical and visual references of historic Italian motorcycles. This is what prompted me to build my Laverda P12XX prototype, a technically modern bike that attracts young people while retaining the identity of the original model. A kind of opposite to the neo-retro concept!
Is it still possible to find an old Laverda to be restored at the bottom of a dusty cellar that has stood still for years?
Yes, there are still many Laverda’s to be found and restored. But it is increasingly difficult to find them at reasonable prices!
Your research work on the Laverda 1000 V6 and on the Breganze brand in general has given you many emotions and has allowed you to meet other experts and enthusiasts. What struck you in particular about the history of this manufacturer?
Two main things: the audacity and courage of the Laverda family, which has been able to offer avant-garde legendary models that put performance and quality before notions of profitability. And the quality of human relationship within the company. I was struck by the testimonies of the former employees of the factory, who all recall with great emotion a factory on a human scale that operated with passion and respect for everyone. Everyone also speaks in the most flattering terms of the members of the Laverda family, which is quite unusual in the industrial world.
The Italian Motorcycle project aims to be a meeting point for Italian motorcycle enthusiasts who belong to a unique community and to have their bikes registered. It is therefore an initiative that goes beyond the concept of social network – virtual contact. You are an ambassador of this project that you believed in from the first moment. What can you say about it?
As said above, we have the responsibility of transmitting all the passion for the Italian historic motorcycles that have made us dream so much and that have made history. The FMI’s Italian Motorcycle project is undoubtedly one of the best ways to achieve this, with tools for communicating on a large scale and federating enthusiasts from all over the world. Yes, the characteristic of Motociclo Italiano is that of concreteness beyond the web: it gathers enthusiasts around a place where the quality of culture and knowledge of the Italian motorcycle industry is enlightened. In addition, the owners of historic Italian motorcycles see their belonging to the “Made in Italy” recognized by becoming part of an exclusive collection that increases the value of the motorcycles themselves.
The culture of the Italian motorcycle industry is so important that it definitely deserves this initiative.