1970 Harley-Davidson Rapido ML-125S


Owning controlling interest in the established Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aermacchi gave Harley-Davidson a wide range of small and middleweight, “entry level” machines for their line-up, including 50cc and 125cc two-strokes.

This version of the Rapido is a handsome lightweight two-stroke with off-road or “enduro” styling popular in America at the time. The high bars, upswept exhaust, grab rail and candy apple red paint helped attract a new audience not served by the other road racing inspired 125cc Rapido.

In the 1960’s Americans were introduced to a wide range of new small and cheap motorcycles from Honda, Yamaha and the other Japanese and Italian makers. Having dropped the 165cc line-up including the Scat, Pacer, Ranger and others based on the Post-War DKW/Hummer design, Harley-Davidson offerings were by then all roughly 900cc and larger machines, heavy weight and relatively expensive. Seeking a quick fix for the market share they gave up to foreign makers, Harley bought a controlling interest in Aermacchi about 1960. With this arrangement machines with displacements ranging from 50cc’s to 350cc’s became available in two-stroke and four-stroke models including those commonly referred to as Harley-Davidson Sprints and Rapidos; highly successful CRTT race bikes were in the mix as well.

The relationship with Aermacchi was so good that Harley-Davidson won its only Grand Prix championships, 1974, 1975, 1976 with 250 and 350 wins by Walter Villa on the RR250 and RR350 two-stroke twin road racers manufactured by Aermacchi. Harley-Davidson worked with Aermacchi through 1978 when Cagiva purchased the company.

This Rapido is in the large Harley-Davidson display area at the National Motorcycle Museum. It was perfectly restored then graciously donated a few years ago by Michael Yourtz of Denver, Colorado. A wide range of two-stroke and four-stroke Aermacchi sourced Harley’s is on display at the Museum.


  • Engine: Air-Cooled Single
  • Type: Two-Stroke, Piston-Port Induction
  • Bore & Stroke: 52 mm × 58 mm
  • Displacement: 124cc’s
  • Compression Ratio: 6.6 : 1
  • Ignition: Magneto
  • Carburetor: Dellorto
  • Starting: Kick
  • Horsepower: 11
  • Primary: Gear Driven
  • Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Transmission: 3-Speed
  • Frame: Single Down Tube, Steel
  • Suspension: Hydraulic Fork / Swingarm, Dual Shocks
  • Brakes: Drum Front / Drum Rear
  • Wheelbase: 48 Inches
  • Wheels / Tires: 3.00 x 19 /. 3.50 x 18
  • Weight: 225 Pounds
  • Top Speed: 55 MPH


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  1. James

    What’s with the two sprockets on the rear wheel?

  2. Howard Dorris

    It is four speed.
    Two sprockets High and low range

  3. Howard Dorris

    It is four speed.
    Two sprockets High and low range

  4. EmailRon Widman

    Theory was small sprocket for normal road work. Bigger sprocket lower overall gearing = more low speed pulling power and lower top speed. A greasy job that most were not willing to do . Plus the fact that you had to mix your own oil with the fuel made these a little less appealing when the competition offered oil injection .

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  6. Bill Weder

    I had one exactly like that, my first motorcycle, thanks to the 1969 TV show “Then Came Bronson”. I rode it a lot on trails and used the big reat sprocket , then the smaller sprocket on the road when I got my drivers/motorcycle license. I took it to the local 1/8 mile drag strip and it just topped out at 60 mph as I crossed the finish line. the gas cap had a measuring cup for the 2-stoke oil, one cap full per gallon made it easy. I leaned to carry a spare spark plug because they fouled out often. I LOVED that bike and want to find one to buy… Go to JimBronson.com and click on “Bill’s” Bike. My Bronson Bilk Tribute Sportster was on display at the National Museum in 2009.

  7. troy smalley

    Wanted to start off by saying I love my rapido it is ths most reliable bike I own. Is there any way to find every color that the rapido came in? Or to figure out original color by vin number?

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