Harley-Davidson’s partial ownership of the large Italian manufacturer Aermacchi brought a wide range of street and off-road motorcycles to showrooms. In 1960, well before the Japanese Big Four had penetrated the U.S. market, Harley-Davidson had purchased a 50% share, and in 1974 owned Aermacchi completely. Harley already had American-made lightweight two-stroke bikes like the Hummer, 165 and Scat plus their scooter, but the Aermacchi relationship brought more lightweight machines helping dealers match the offerings of the competition.
The 1972 Harley-Davidson MC-65 Shortster is a pretty rare, one year only mini-bike. It used the engine from the lightweight Leggero already in the lineup. Much more sophisticated than many American minis from the 1960’s like those from Fox and Rupp, the Shortster had a solid backbone-style frame, hydraulic suspension, street legal lighting, a license plate mount, gauges, and a braced handlebar. Picking up on styling trends, the bike incorporated an upswept exhaust with chrome shield, a dual seat, big bike grips and polished stainless steel fenders. Yellow, red and blue were offered colors.The wheelbase was just under 40 inches, and tires were a healthy 3.00 x 10 inches. For 1973, the chassis received the larger 90cc engine with a four speed transmission. With this new engine the mini was renamed the X-90 and the MC-65 was gone from the line-up.
Tony Withers has owned this Shortster since new and offers,
“This bike was mine when I was about 12-13 years old, that my folks got for me. We rode it all over my parents property until it finally gave up and died. The bike sat for about 30 years out in the back pasture with a bunch of my dads old cars, until one day when I decided to dig it out to see what was left. The bike was in bad shape as you could imagine. My first thought was to see about parting any good parts out on eBay. Once I started looking on the internet, I found quite a bit of info about it, and that parts are still available. I had grown up doing auto mechanics work as well as auto body and decided to restore the Harley.”
Over time Tony rebuilt the engine and massaged each piece back to its shiny original form. Wishing to share the bike with others, Tony recently offered the bike on loan to the National Motorcycle Museum. You can see it in the scooter display area along with other minis and scooters from France, Germany, Japan, Italy and of course the United States.
- Engine: Two-Stroke Piston Port Single
- Bore & Stroke: 44mm x 42mm
- Displacement: 63.8cc’s
- Carburetion: Dell’Orto ME 18 BS
- Electrics: 6 Volt Battery, Coil & Points
- Compression Ratio: 8.5:1
- Lubrication: 25:1 Pre-Mix
- Primary: Gear Driven
- Starting: Kick Lever
- Transmission: 3-Speed, Foot Shift
- Clutch: Dry, Hand Operated
- Final Drive: Chain
- Brakes: Drum Front & Drum Rear
- Frame: Steel Tubular, Backbone
- Fork: Hydraulic
- Rear Suspension: Swingarm / Dual Shocks
- Wheels / Tires: 3.00 x 10 / 3.00 x 10
- Wheelbase: 39.2 Inches
- Weight: 126 Pounds