1975 Harley-Davidson SX250: Warehouse Project

1975 Harley Davidson SX250

When most of us think of Harley-Davidson, images of big motorcycles come to mind, but the company actually has experimented with a number of sizes of bikes. They’ve literally built everything from mopeds to dirt bikes and anything inbetween. The dirt bike you see here is Harley’s first attempts at a small off roader. Ironically, it isn’t really a Harley at all, but an Italian built Aermacchi that was rebranded and sold by Harley. A highly modified SX250 actually won it’s class in the 1975 Baja 500, the only time a Harley has won the crucible that is the Baja. This bike was found in a warehouse and is missing a few pieces, like the tail lights and the title. These bikes are quite rare today, as is the case with most early dirt bikes. It probably didn’t help that they weren’t that popular with the typical Harley crowd, but 40 years may have changed that. If you would like to add this bike to your collection, you can find it here on eBay in Windsor, California, but you better act fast as the auction only has a few hours left!

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Comments

  1. BillBill

    I guess only the buyer and me cared about this. I might have bid with more pix, info! Actually, I’m looking for a Harley 125.

  2. jim s

    ended with reserve not met at $2400. seem like very good money for what i see in the photos.

  3. Righteous Bob

    They were Junk when new, most of them never made it to 3000 miles, and the electrical was another nightmare to deal with..

  4. Michael Ponsano

    What! and its not RESTORED at that price!?!

  5. Howard A Member

    The wonderful days of AMF. ( almost killed Harley altogether) I had a friend that had the SS350 Sprint model Harley,( road model) that was the next step after the ring-ding 250 made such a dismal showing. ( although, they were actually good bikes) The 4 cycle 350 was a more refined bike, but still no match for the twins and 3’s and 4’s coming from Asian bikes. I can’t understand why someone would want this, except for the “collector” aspect. There are so many better dirt bikes out there. Still, a piece of Harley history, that hard core Harley riders would love to forget. ( although, I’ve heard, AMF Big Twin Harley’s have quite following now, due to their somewhat low production)

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Let’s get one thing straight, AMF WAS NOT Harley’s downfall.

      AMF/American Machine Foundry gets blamed for a lot of bad parts that supposedly came from Harley, technically Harley’s dealers.

      Forty years ago when AMF was keeping Harley from the brink of bankruptcy the aftermarket was expanding very rapidly. Harley owners were asking for all sorts of optional equipment not being made by a company watching its pennies,

      AMF was just trying to keep Harley solvent and unfortunately were not keeping a close eye on the dealerships.

      Dealerships seeing an opportunity to make customer happy and make more money, started to but aftermarket parts from a lot of different sources, most from the Pacific Rim. Quality was NOT a priority back then. The credo was if you can’t make it go faster, chrome it. The dealers ran with this and Harley’s reputation suffered and in turn AMF was blamed.

      Once Harley was on a firmer financial footing, changes occurred.

      Dealerships were re-evaluated, and Harley now required all dealers to sell genuine HD parts exclusively. Notice all the new and very large facilities now wearing the logo.

      Harley recognized the cash they were losing by ONLY selling motorcycles and not the accessories, plus their reputation was being hurt. By taking control of their aftermarket/accessories they found a new revenue source and protected their reputation.

      Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this and when I asked what part failed it wasn’t HD/AMF’s.

      Easy to check, grab a parts book and look up the part, almost always an accessory that was not offered and a dealer supplied item from a dealer not wanting to lose a sale or leave money on the table.

      Like 1
      • Righteous Bob

        Ross: Well said, being a independent Harley Only repair shop for over 30 years, we really had to watch the quality of the parts we sold.. Some of the stuff was so bad that the chrome was peeling off in the package.. They copied parts that were bent, twisted and wore out, so the new part was made, bent, twisted and wore…Most of the distributors that sold that stuff are long gone and the handful that remain are selling some pretty good stuff….

        Like 1
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Ross, thanks for that, although, I believe, the AMF takeover, resulted in production cuts and big layoffs, which resulted in a labor strike ( and less quality) that almost cooked the company. I’m from Milwaukee, and remember what a tense time it was for Harley in the ’70’s. ( to this day, the engine plant on W. Capitol Dr. stands empty) I knew people that worked for Harley, and they confirmed this. I don’t doubt the dealers had a lot to do with it, like you say, but if it wasn’t for Willie G. (and others) that re-introduced new models that had the retro look of older H-D’s, for their fan base, ( something that took Asian bike builders years to catch on to), I think Harley would be right there with all the other defunct names. And we won’t even begin to say what happened in 2007 and 2008 when another strike in York, Pa. along with decreased sales, almost cooked them again. Don’t get me wrong, I like Harley’s, had one myself, but if the company doesn’t start introducing newer models, ( why they never made the “Penstar”, a 3 wheel bike like the Can-Am Spyder, I’ll never know) we may see the end of this great machine, after all.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Howard the SS350 Sprint was not a Harley, it was a Harley badged Italian Benelli , I think or possibly MotoGuzzi. I believe. Aermacchi? was part of a group of Italian manufacturers that later became Cosmopolitan Motors, they usually marketed the 2-strokes.
      That Sprint model was a 50’s design which was why they were happy to export it to the US as it meant no competition for their newer products. Sort of like when Detroit Gear sold automatic transmissions they made in the late 40’s to Jaguar in the mid-50’s for the new sedans that Jaguar was debuting in the American market as Jaguar has never made an automatic tranny of their own.

  6. mtshootist1

    Well, I have one of those Harley 250s its sitting out back, and it has the taillight lens, and all the original paint, not that matters, it is in as good a shape as that one. Actually, my 72 Shovel was a good engine. I got it in 1980, and finally tore it completely down in 1993. The lower end had never been apart since it left the factory. The big problem that I remember came with the late 70’s bikes, poor castings, finishes not worth a damn. And the valve guides were changed from bronze to steel and valves siezed in the heads. I had a 79 FLH Classic, the two tone creme and brown color. Spent a ton of money getting it running, repaint, after I bought it out of a guy’s kitchen, (would that be a “kitchen find” ) sold it right before the big boom in Harley prices (of course!) Still own the 72 Shovel chopper, which has at least four decades maybe five of parts on it, including an original 1940s vintage extended in the seventies harley springer, extended with Ford Model A radius rods, axle to axle length 7′ 10″. a 58-64 frame, the swingarm is out of a 1984 electricglide, (last year for the four speed) I even have the original tombstone taillight off my 52 pan on the rear fender. Sorry got carried away.. Maybe I ought to put that HD 250 on Fleabay its about a barn find anyway. except no barn…

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      I’m a big cheerleader for HD. Owned one and still own a brace of dirt racers, mostly open class and some trials bikes.
      Growing up in the late 60’s, I was ten, rode a strange variety of dirt bikes that were always purchased used. HD had a 100cc unit, Italian based, that had 12 inches of ground clearance, my dream.
      Roger D, Ake Johnson and Cal Rayburn along with Dick Mann were my heroes and were heroes to most of my riding buddies.
      During this time AMF acquired Harley. Harley’s were old in their design then, looking back the early seventies Harley’s were sporting 50’s technologies. This was a problem for more than just HD, the Brits were on the skids too. The problem was Harley was trying to reorganize without going under and bring new product to the marketplace was almost an impossibility with their budget constraints.
      The Big Three, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki offered products that ran well, everyday, without continuous wrenching that we had managed to get used to with the Brits and HD. That’s not to say some of the early offerings had issues but by the late 60’s the Japanese’s efforts had coalesced into a quality offering and if you were remaining in the market, you knew a change was in the offing if you were to survive.
      The Brits failed. Harley persevered and eventually managed to bring their bikes up to what I like to call a useful running product. My benchmark for that era was the Honda 750/4, well built, could run daily without issue and seriously rack up some mileage before needing rebuilding, all things that escaped HD back then.
      Then came Willie G and Friends, seriously, cue the angelic choir, they ran a Hail Mary play that made Harley a serious player in the cruiser market. They managed to get HD to put money into some CNC equipment that catapulted HD into the 20th century. Branding became important, some say maybe too much, but would they exist if they hadn’t? Big fan of the team that managed to save HD from the throes of poor management. Reeling in the imported parts and their quality issues no doubt helped, plus they now had control over the quality.
      Dealerships……..I don’t necessarily blame them, most were trying their best to satisfy their customer base and the factory didn’t have the means to help them.
      I think HD went a little overboard with the way they re-authorized the dealers. The sheer amount of square that HD requires is scary especially of you’ve been in the same urban area and have to relocate because expansion is either impossible
      or impossibly expensive for the extra square footage. Leaving a location can be deadly for a business.
      I was raised just outside of Springfield, where Indian was made originally. Always hoped someone would buy Indian and actually innovate. A retro-design based on an S&S engine isn’t going to save Indian. The latest offering is nothing special, but I’m hoping for better in the future.
      Indian back then was innovative with side by side twins, v-twins and in-line fours with shaft drives, there is so much more than just a V-twin……..HD you listening?
      Porsche didn’t give up the air-cooled until they were stagnant in the horsepower department. They spent millions trying to get the heat out of the engine bay, plus the 928 series was stillborn when the developmental budget was cut, but they had great engineering on the chassis and engine, its just the finish of the interior and switchgear was done on the cheap.
      Love both the V-Rod and the regular Harley’s and glad they are still around.

  7. Evan Clements

    The bike shown here, the guy who got it started to cafe it, but (thankfully) stalled out before getting the sawzall started. A friend of mine got it last year and we’ve been going through the bike the right way. Thanks to Les at Moto Italia in Petaluma we’ve found many of the bits needed. Won’t be long before this SX250 will be tooling around the east bay, resplendent in Harley orange!

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Evan Clements…..great save by your friend and yourself.

      Please post a pic in the future when it’s completed.

    • Mark plummer

      What color code is the paint for 1975 orange, that’s why I’m looking at this post. It came up in the search, but can’t find a color code anywhere.

  8. apexing

    My friend and I have made great progress on this post’s SX250. Here’s where it stands today, runs and rides, just have some small wiring issues to sort out, and some final tuning. My buddy didn’t use a “Harley” orange, just matched using Duplicolor off of photos on the web. This old Harley is very resilient, it wanted to get to this point! Thanks for the comments.

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