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