28 Mile Motorcycle: 1976 Harley-Davidson SS-125

We normally think of the term captive import as being related to cars and trucks, not motorcycles. This 1976 Harley-Davidson SS-125 is basically a rebadged Aermacchi, an Italian bike. It can be found here on eBay in Melbourne, Florida and the seller has a $3,800 buy-it-now price listed, or you can make an offer.

Aermacchi started out as an aircraft company in 1912 and in 1951 they started making motorcycles, as many manufactures did, as a way to supplement their bottom line and to provide inexpensive transportation after WWII. It has more of a cruiser look to it than I would have expected for a 125cc Italian bike, but it is a Harley. Sort of. The seller does have the original side covers which is nice. I’m not sure what the mesh ones are for or why they’re there, but they say that they’re custom and everything else is original on the bike.

Harley-Davidson initially bought half of Aermacchi’s motorcycle business in 1960. Adding small bikes to their lineup seemed like a good idea, at least at the time, and in the early-1970s, the new AMF Harley-Davidson bought the remaining portion of Aermacchi’s motorcycle business. Hagerty is at $2,100 for a #1 Concours condition 1976 Aermacchi Harley-Davidson SS-125 but as always, values don’t mean much, especially on the low end of the spectrum.

This one is in unbelievable condition, really almost like new. It has a mere 28 miles on it after having been stored, covered in a garage, for years and years, according to the seller. It’s more than a little strange to see an ignition switch and a couple of info lights where the tach would normally be.

I don’t really see a flaw in this little time machine. The engine is Aermacchi’s 123cc two-stroke single with around 13-hp. This one starts by the second kick and doesn’t leak a drop. At 250 pounds, this little machine is said to have good road manners and a top speed of between 65 and 70 mph. That’s screaming on a two-stroke single with no tach! Have any of you owned an Aermacchi Harley-Davidson?

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Comments

  1. DWH

    I believe this is missing the original air filters. which would be behind the side covers coming from the carb. Not an easy find.

    Like 2
  2. Dennis Marth

    I love bikes like this, virtual one-offs. I don’t know if I’d trade my BMW R1200c for it, but it would be fun to bomb around town on. And as noted, practically a time-capsule new bike. Sweet!

    Like 3
  3. Micharl

    I had one of these back in 1976. Also a 250 cc. Harley. The 125 cc. had it’s issues, and the 250 cc. ran great. They were what they were. I liked the two I had. If I knew what I do now? I would have kept them both.

    Like 2
  4. Howard A Member

    The history of Aermacchi is appreciated, but a better subject would be AMF Harley. Oh, those were bad times for the only US motorcycle maker, almost went under. They dabbled in too many things ( like bowling balls) and not enough on the big bikes. Snowmobiles, dirt bikes, they tried it all, and failed miserably, although, they did make a halfway decent MX bike, and the sleds were pretty cool too. These were good, tough little bikes, but Americans, specifically, people from Milwaukee, knew what these were, and were not impressed. This is just a fantastic example of a bike most threw away. Looks like a fun bike, for maybe $500 bucks.

    Like 3
    • stanley kwiecinski

      bought a1974 FXE in 1993 for a bike barely running on two cyls. it had high oil pressure even when hot? tore it a part for a rebuild; of the 4 rocker arm shafts…all supposed to have 2 oil passages drilled through both side for bushing oiling. front rocker only had one drill hole through it. Maybe a speed secret by X owner? part # is all the same for all shafts. Any clue?

      Like 1
  5. oilngas

    People knock AMF for the Harley years. Thanks to AMF there is a Harley. AMF saved Harley then returned it to the employee’s when they were ready to take it over. Look at them now. Thank’s AMF.

    Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      I’m not knocking AMF, I grew up in Milwaukee, and it was a rough time. You are right, had it not been for AMF, I’m not sure what would have happened. It’s just, while the motorcycle world was changing, FAST, Harley continued to market an out of date motorcycle. Jay Leno made a joke once, “See the all new foot peg on the new 1974 Harleys”. Kind of funny, all the changes the Asian bikes went through, Harley stayed the course ( not including Vrod) and is still the bike of choice. AMF Harleys are highly sought after today because they sold so poorly.

      Like 1
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Jeez, I hope you are right Howard on the AMF price thing. I still have my 1971 FX shovel that I bought in 73. After I put a S and S carb on it, it started and ran perfect!

        Like 2
      • stanley kwiecinski

        Didn’t realize i got a new foot peg at the cost of a rocker arm oil passage! I’d always trade top end damage so my stinky foot would look cool!

  6. ClassicCarFan

    Yes, there does seem to have been a bit of that badge-engineering going on at that time. My brother bought a Benelli-badged 125 trail bike of this era based I believe around this same engine. The original motor was shot and he managed to source a replacement motor out of another 125 that was oddly-enough badged as a Moto-Guzzi, but it was essentially the identical engine, slotted straight in.

    As for this H-D one, seems like it is in nice condition for a bike of that vintage but as others have commented, I doubt it is worth much. Small capacity two-stokes can be a fun to ride as long as you aren’t out on the open highway too much – but the technology has moved on and a modern bike with decent disc brakes, mono-shock suspension and niceties like electric start, would be a much better choice if you really just want to ride.

    Looking at it from the point of view of a collectible classic bike, I think its appeal is pretty limited. It’s not quite old enough to have real vintage status, it doesn’t have much performance – and I’d imagine the hard-core Harley enthusiasts would probably look down on it as “not a REAL Harley”, but I could be wrong. ( maybe the “anything with the Harley badge on it is golden” effect is stronger than you’d think?)

    I think the seller is dreaming if they think someone will pay $3,800. I’d say somewhere around $1,000 – $1,500 more like it for this lightweight novelty bike.

    Like 2
  7. Spodeeodee

    I bought a new 73 125 on a crate from my dad’s Harley dealer friend for $450. I was 14 and mechanically inclined so it worked when assembled. Easy to ride and maintain but a bit heavy. Rode it everywhere because pop put a plate on it. Ran away from the cops once by going off road, but got caught when i got back on the road. Fun bike but had to sell at 16 to get my driver’s license.

    Like 4
  8. Ronald

    I had a 1974 Harley Davidson SR 100 when I was a teen in the 80s and rode it for years without much trouble. I lived out in the country and ride it year round winter and summer . The only issue I had was that the clutch basket bolt stripped out and went through the side case . I repaired the case cover and bought a 125 like this for parts . I think we gave $50 for the parts bike . Gave the bike to my little brother who is 10 years younger than me and he sold it without ever riding it . It amazes me that these bikes actually have value because parts availability in the 80s was a no go as AMF sold off Aremacchi and it was resold multiple times .

    Like 1
  9. Tom Harris

    Bought one like this in the late 70’s. Instead of a H-D Hog I called it my Pig. Enjoyed it for a while until it started jumping out of gear just about time to shift. Did some checking around and found out parts were nearly impossible to find. So I unloaded it.

  10. Steve Haygood

    my older brother had a 65cc Leggero … Probably a 1970 or so….what a learning experience… Was stolen years later or it would probably still be here

    Like 1
  11. Dan

    The tank decals would suggest that it is a 1975 .

    Like 1
    • Al

      Your correct as a ’76 had the upper rainbow reversed to mirror the bottom one. ’74s were straight rainbows, above & below, w/ no curve.

  12. Gerard Frederick

    Strangely you don´t mention that Harley initiallty stole Germany´s DKW RT125 the mosy copied bike in history, forming the basis of practically the entire Japanese bike industry. Harley called their theft the ¨Hummer¨ after one of their dealers who sold a boat-load of them. Later they enlarged the 125 mill to 160 cc´s. Later still when they were ready to die an ignominious death, they contracted Porsche Design in Stuttgart whose total redesign is what we see today. It can easily be argued that the best Harley of all times ( by a mile) really should be called a Harley-Porsche, because without Porsche, they would be but a bad memory.

  13. john

    I had one back in the day. They were fun. I had to use it to get to work when my 49 rigid frame panhead gave me trouble.

    Like 2
  14. James Turner

    I remember sometime around the mid 70,s I knew some one who had a 350 Harley Sprint. I rode a 360 Honda CL 360. on/off road. I took his Harley for a ride through country roads a few miles. Wow, What a piece of junk that bike was. The handling / Suspension was absolutely terrible and the bike seemed weight unbalanced, Also It bounced all over the road. The Honda 360 was no jewel but it was 100 % better compared to the Harley sprint.

    • stanley kwiecinski

      My bro had a 350 sprint! God what piece! I think it was called the punkin’ head? DeLorto carb with a tickler.even as a PUNK it was hard to start! Never snuck it out to ride when he was at work. hot wired his 2 stroke Yamaha 175 WOOHOO! still riding my 74 FXE.

  15. Terry Bowman

    I bought one of these, I believe it was around 70′ and it was called a 125 Rapido. It had two rear sprockets, one for the road and one for off road. They were easy to change by loosing the rear tire bolt and moving it forward or backward. To fuel it, you had a measure cup under the gas cap for the added 2 cycle oil. Then you would bounce the front end to mix it up. LOL I believe the key was on the side. You could set the throttle, like a cruise control. I also believe in as being 10 brake HP, which was needed to drive on a expressway. I remember it fouling spark plugs all the time. It was a dog, as all the other brand bikes would always beat me in a race on the street, but I had them off road.

    Like 1
  16. TimM

    I drove a 250 like this once and it was a tank!! Never drove it on the road just in the trails!! It was heavy and a little hard to keep in the trail!! The one thing I will say is the torque was killer!! It could climb like the tank it was!!!

  17. Stevieg

    If I fit on in t, I would probably ride it for the novelty of it, but not @ this price lol.
    I am sure it would be funny to see my 6 foot, 300 pound frame on this little scooter lol. Talk about an elephant attacking a football lol!

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