Aermacchi Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint

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The Yamaha R5 350 Twin.
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Advertisement for the Aermacchi Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint SS.
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The Honda CB350.

Aermacchi Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint
Years produced:
Claimed power: 25hp @ 7,000rpm (1969)
Top speed: 92.49mph (period test)
Engine type: 344cc air-cooled OHV single
Weight: 323lb (w/half-tank fuel)
MPG: 47-58mpg
Price then: $795 (1969)
Price now: $1,000-$4,000

It made perfect sense in 1960. With the Japanese invasion taking hold, Harley-Davidson needed something competitive in the small bike segment. The options: further development of their 165cc two-stroke single or a completely new design — or buy a turnkey business. Aermacchi, of Varese, Italy, fit the bill to a tee: they built a sturdy and competent 250cc bike (derived from Alfredo Bianchi’s futuristic 175cc Chimera of 1955) with good performance and lots of development potential. Better yet, Aermacchi’s parent company, Aeronautica Macchi, wanted to focus on its airplane business, and was keen to divest its bike operations. Harley bought a 50 percent share.

The sporty Aermacchi Ala d’Oro (Gold Wing) featured a four-stroke overhead-valve single with horizontal cylinder and four-speed transmission, with the engine suspended from a spine frame. It looked like a good fit: overhead valve four-strokes were something H-D dealers were familiar with — no fancy overhead cams or ring-ding oil smoke haze.

The first Aermacchi Harley-Davidson Sprint went on sale in the U.S. in 1961. The speedy 250 quickly became popular in production racing, and was gradually improved over the years.

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