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The Aermacchi Harley Davidson Sprint.

Updated on April 28, 2012

Harley Davidson Sprint

My Dad is sitting at the computer browsing Craigslist and Ebay to see what cool things were listed for sale. He is constantly looking for great deals on cars and motorcycle's. As he sits there he goes, “look at that, I had one of those”. There on Ebay sat a motorcycle obviously from the 60’s, with an odd frame leaving exposed vital parts. He said he rode it in the desert and had to make a funky skid plate to protect the motor. So we reminisced about one of his first ‘dirt bikes’ he owned back in the late 60’s. He figured his had been a 1969 Harley Davidson (Aermacchi) Sprint 350cc that he had owned and rode it in the desert on weekends. When you look at photos of this bike one can see if you are crashing about in the California desert you can easily bash up the cylinder head. I tried to find a photo of my Dad’s bike but I had no luck. I was curious as to how the skid plate looked. Dad said it was pretty flimsy and mounting brackets attached up on the frame. So when you look at a photo use your imagination, and you have to smile and think that it was so 60’s.

I don’t remember the motorcycle since I paid little attention to dirt bikes until I got my first bike in 1971. By that time the Harley Sprint was long gone and Dad was riding something different. One has to realize that Dad still rides and has owned many, many motorcycles. I could write many Hubs about all the bikes he has owned over the years. I think two motorcycles he owned before the Harley was a Triumph Cub and a Maico.

1969 Sprint 350cc
1969 Sprint 350cc
Sprint Cylinder
Sprint Cylinder

Harley Davidson and Aermacchi

It’s funny when you look at info about these motorcycle is that either writers and/or enthusiast either put Aermacchi Harley Davidson or Harley Davidson Aermacchi. Some are very strong in their opinion that it was Aermacchi that made these small bore motorcycles apart from others in the era. When you look at the small bore motorcycles that won races and Championships it was the Aermacchi Harley’s that dominated in the 60’s.

This quote sums it up very well. I don’t know who wrote this but it is off the “Vintage Flat Track” racers website.

How did a company known for big, slow-revving, four-stroke V-twins rack up such an impressive streak in a form of competition dominated by small, hard-running two-strokes? In a word, Aermacchi.”

In the 1960’s with Japanese small bore two strokes were making its appearance Harley Davidson felt the need challenge their influence, and bought 50 percent of the Italian motorcycle firm Aermacchio give them the edge. Aermacchi was known for their 250cc four-stroke singles, with one horizontal cylinder sticking straight forward, and was the foundation for the Harley Sprint line of 250s and 350s.

Harley-Davidson's tried very hard to ride into the limelight in the light motorcycle market met with limited success. Harley abandoned this venture in 1978 with the sale of its Italian Aermacchi subsidiary.

Harley is very good at taking credit where it is not due. Aermacchi is one that doesn’t get credit and so is the Rotax engine in another instance with the history of Harley Davidson. Though they are not the only ones that have used components made by someone else but seem to be the one that does not acknowledge help along the way. All that aside when looking back on the motorcycle you owned 40 years ago can bring back memories that have been tucked away for years. It’s fun to listen to stories about the days of old when racing was really racing and was not for wimps. When you had to manufacture a skid plate or get crappy brakes to work and thinking I will never get this bike to run. Oh, the memories!


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Most of theses bikes were pretty hideous when new and havn't gotten any better with age.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      I dont know a lot about motorcycles, and nothing would persuade me to get on one, but you do write an absorbing article.

      Thank you.


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