Aermacchi Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

History of Aermacchi Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Marque

After WWII the aircraft factory began building three-wheelers with horizontally opposed twins. In 1956 the Chimera 175 ohv made its appearance. Harley-Davidson acquired 50 per cent of the factory in 1960, and assumed complete control in 1974. HD sold Aermacchi to Cagiva in 1978.

To whoever first asked about the H-D/Aermacchi:

Harley purchased Aermacchi in 1961 or so to produce small bikes for the American market, in an attempt to capture a piece of the youth market back from Honda, et al. Harley sold Aermacchi in 1978 to the Castiglioni brothers, who built Cagiva from it, which in 1985 bought Ducati, and later Husqvarna and Moto Morini.

At first, H-D only imported the 250-cc Sprint. These are nice little bikes, with a spine frame, and a laid-down four-stroke engine that is similar to that used in the Moto Guzzi Falcone. These were imported and improved every year from 1961 through 1974. In 1969, the motor was stroked to 350 cc.

About 1966 or so, H-D brought in some smaller two-stroke Aermacchis, which aren't as desirable, in my opinion.

If it is a 1968 model it is either a 250-cc Sprint or a 125-cc Rapido, hopefully the former.

Sprints are fun little bikes, especially the 350-cc version that came along in 1969. While they are not climbing in value as rapidly as the other Harleys of the era, they have a dedicated following, and can be very fun to drive.

If it were mine, I'd ride it while gathering spares and NOS parts at swap meets before they are all used up.

Little-known fact: Lino Tonti designed a race bike called the "Linto" just before he was hired at Moto Guzzi. The engine in the Linto was essentially two Aermacchi top ends grafted onto a single crankcase (an approach later used by Fabio Taglioni, who grafted two Ducati top ends onto a common crankcase to create the Ducati L-twin). If it's good enough for Tonti, it's good enough for me.

Hope the Tonti stuff was a sufficient Guzzi angle on this whole thing.

Aermacchi Harley-Davidson models include:
M-50, M-65; M-50 Sport, M-65 Sport '65-'72. Rapido, ML, MLS 125, Shortster X-90
Baja MSR-100 '70-'74. SXT 125, SS 125 '75-'76

Aermacchi Model Codes 1970-1978 (Courtesy Charleston Custom Cycle)

2D X-90
3C Sprint SX-350
3D Z-90
3F SXT-125
4F SS-175
5C Shortster
5D SX-175
6A Sprint SS-350
6D SX-250
6F SS-125
7A MLS 125 (1970-72)
7A TX-125 (1973)
7A SX-125 (1974 to early '75)
7D MX-250
8A M-65 (Leggero)
8B Baja 100


*Where "X" is a digit from 0 to 8. H0 is 1970, H1 is 1971, H2 is 1972, etc.

Therefore: 8A-11157-H1 is an M65 Legero 1971

Hello fellow mailing listees,
Just finished some research in answering the quest: "How many Aermacchi Ala d'Oro's production racers were build?" Normal production started in 1961. The previous models were factory specials and not included in this count. I received help from Francesco Botta. He used to be the chief of the "Ufficio Tecnico" of Aermacchi. Botta is considered the Italian specialist of the brand. Anyway, here is the list, enjoy it and keep it in case you find one in a barn....

Aermacchi Ala d'Oro 125cc

1969 - 1972: 207.

Aermacchi Ala d'Oro 175cc

Constructor Production Year Qty

A H-D 1961 35
A H-D 1962 4
A H-D 1963 -
A H-D 1964 5
A H-D 1965 2

Total 46

Aermacchi Ala d'Oro 250cc

Constructor Production Year Qty

A H-D 1961 33
A H-D 1962 55
A H-D 1963 83
A H-D 1964 36
A H-D 1965 17
A H-D 1966 25
A H-D 1967 40
A H-D 1968 -
A H-D 1969 14
A H-D 1970 17
A H-D 1971 14
A H-D 1972 5
AMF H-D 1973 3

Total 342

Aermacchi Ala d'Oro 350cc

Constructor Production Year Qty

A H-D 1964 16
A H-D 1965 9
A H-D 1966 8
A H-D 1967 -
A H-D 1968 37
A H-D 1969 13
A H-D 1970 20
A H-D 1971 7

Total 110

Ivar de Gier, October 1997.

Moto Guzzi and the Tonti frame at (404)

Jan Willem Boon HD Parts