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Comparison test between Ducati 750 SS and Laverda 668

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After a successful launch, the new Laverda 668 swims completely in the fairway of the Ducati 750 SS. The sporty twin can overtake the tried-and-tested V-twin?

The traffic light shows red. Nevertheless, a car driver honks. The driver of the Ducati 750 SS looks over at him slightly annoyed. But the older gentleman in the honest limousine is beaming, winding down the window, pointing his thumb up, screaming against traffic noise and the rumbling V-Twin. “My son and I want to buy one too now. Such a Ducati, she’s got something. It’s also a very special philosophy to drive an Italian, isn’t it. ”The traffic light changes to green before the Ducati driver can reply. Because anyone looking for a sporty, affordable Italian motorcycle today no longer has to choose the Ducati 750 SS.

Meanwhile, the traditional brand Laverda is again offering a new model, which – albeit with an aged engine construction from the 1970s, the parallel twin of the recently unsuccessfully built SFC 600 – hopes to see better times. The youngest offshoot is only optically enhanced, after 650 Sport and Formula 650 now 668, so the Laverda is by no means beaten from the start. Firstly, the 750 V-Twin is no longer a brand new design, and secondly, the fun of a motorized two-wheeler is no longer just about the perfect handling and the smooth running of modern motorcycle designs.

Comparison test between Ducati 750 SS and Laverda 668

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750 SS does not fit, the 668 also troubles, as if the designers from Ducati and Laverda had agreed: The twin jerks below 2500 rpm and whips the chain, annoying the clumsy gearshift that slowing down becomes torture. The rest is done by the stiff coupling, which, with poor controllability and a short commute to work, gives the impression of being at a riding and jumping competition. But that already enumerates the essential, common weaknesses of the 750 SS and 668. The type of power delivery of both two-cylinder engines is a matter of character. And they express themselves in very different ways with the two athletes.

But first the walk to the dynamometer. Tea nominally 66 hp Ducati and now, according to the vehicle registration certificate, only 64 instead of 70 hp Laverda are well prepared for the first test of strength. The comparatively voluminous power curve of the V-Twin only slowly points downwards at 68 hp and a speed of 7400 rpm, while the significantly smaller-displacement parallel twin sets course for Spitzbergen. After a performance drop at 4000 the curve climbs rapidly, only to go downhill again just as quickly after 7700 rpm. At the top, the "altimeter" registers a full 74 hp. Whether that is so correct?

Practice confirms what the two performance curves already indicated. The Laverda-Twin does not develop any noteworthy performance in the lower speed range. It is enough to swim with the traffic or to stroll along the country road, but to speak of a significant forward thrust when suddenly accelerating would be vastly exaggerated. Only when you switch back a few steps does the twin wake up from its slumber. From 5000 rpm it presses the pilot’s butt against the cushion of the hump bench, the arms become long and the front wheel light. The tachometer needle snaps to 8000, pauses, although the twin continues to turn noticeably. Is the needle spinning? After hours, the oil temperature also shows 40 degrees. Well, attention to detail has never been an Italian thing. Laverda wants, no, hell has to be beaten up. And it is fun. Lots of it, no question about it.

In contrast, the little Ducati drives, sorry me, like a fat tractor. Once the speed range below 3000 rpm has been overcome, the V-Twin shudders forward at any speed. Regardless of which gear you are in, you always get the impression that you are hanging on to the power drop at the right moment. In order to move forward vigorously – even if not quite as violently as the Laverda – you only have to use the hacky switch box half as often and you don’t have to wrestle the usable speed range down to the last division on the instrument scale.

The performance figures illustrate the different temperaments of the 668 and 750 SS. Ducati riders can barely see the rear light of the Laverda at full acceleration to 160 km / h. On the other hand, the powerful V-Twin even with two people pulls the soloist on the 668 away when accelerating out in the last gear, from around 60 to 160 km / h, never to be seen again.

The Ducati and Laverda represent just as different chassis philosophies as the characters of the engines are different. The tubular space frame with triangular swing arm of the 750 series is equipped with quite simple suspension components, while the Laverda with an expensive bridge frame construction made of aluminum profiles, an expensive, multi-adjustable White Power fork and a no less elaborate central spring strut from the same manufacturer reflects the upper limit of modern chassis construction.

The effort pays off. The Laverda can be set up for a wide range of applications up to a very sporty driving style and impresses with its high level of suspension comfort. The sensitively appealing upside-down fork does not seem to be familiar with bad road surfaces. Thanks to the well-damped central spring strut, the five-inch wide rear wheel with the 160 tire also keeps stubbornly in contact with extremely undulating slopes. However, the fork, which plunges deep when braking hard, sometimes puts the 668’s accuracy to the test. Except for this small drawback, the Laverda chassis has no weaknesses. There is nothing to criticize about the surprisingly easy handling and driving stability, although the mounted Pirelli MTR 01/02 do their go.

With the choice of tires, the Ducati chassis reveals its first weakness. The standard-mounted Michelin A / M 89 tires on the accuracy and manageability of the chassis, convey a spongy, indifferent driving behavior and never really give pleasure on winding roads. Drawn pairings like the Bridgestone BT 50 or Dunlop Sportmax prove that the Duc can do different things. However, the Duc chassis does not achieve the handiness of the Laverda. And certainly not the comfort. The tight, unchangeable chassis set-up is sufficient for the sporty ambitions of the 750 SS, but on bad roads the fork looks chunky and tends to hit the handlebars. In the absence of sufficient progression, it can occasionally happen that it hits through with heavy use.

In terms of braking systems, neither the 750 SS nor the 668 can convince. In both cases, the Brembo four-piston calipers require a lot of hand strength before they really grab the 320 brake discs. The Laverda is even worse off than the Ducati when it comes to metering, but there are other things that you have to live with with Italian motorcycles. The clearly structured Ducati has the luxury of a wobbly side stand, so it can only be a matter of time before the lovely Italian crashes to the ground. In the course of a subsequent repainting of the cladding parts, you should also order the frame. Not only did the aluminum swing arm (now made of steel) fall victim to the decline in the lira, but also the value-preserving primer of the tubular mesh.

Although the Laverda with its many noble add-on parts is equivalent to a special offer in view of the cost price that is just 100 marks more expensive than the Ducati, the cladding parts seem to be clapped rather than properly assembled. When the handlebars are fully turned, the sometimes imprecise instruments collide with the fittings on the chrome-plated Tommasellis, and the tank cannot be filled easily via the filler neck in the rear. When the fuel keg is full, the fuel often gushes through the vent like hot water from a geishir.

But in the face of such characters it is sometimes easier to look over one or the other weakness. And after all, it’s a very special philosophy to drive an Italian. But now he can also be called Laverda.

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