Some would credit Yamaha with the focus in design and production of capable dual sport bikes when they launched the Yamaha DT-1 in 1968. The Yamaha was designed from scratch, was not just a high pipe version of an existing street bike. But like the Yamaha, this Harley-Davidson SX175  was a simple air-cooled, port induction two-stroke single with knobby tires, decent ground clearance, a high pipe and braced handlebar, but it came quite a few years later. Good attention was given to styling; this was a big leap from the overly traditional Italian look of 1960’s Aermacchi four-stroke “sloper” powered bikes.

In 1961 Harley-Davidson bought a 50% share of Aermacchi which allowed them to compete better in the small bike and the off-road segments of motorcycle production and sales. But this very different Aermacchi-designed, Italian production SX175 did not come about until the 1974 model year. A solo seat model at first, it became a two up machine with a redesign for 1976. The SX175 shared major components with Harley’s SX250.

But the focus of the average Harley-Davidson dealer was Milwaukee-made big twins and Sportsters, not imports. And non-Harley customers were more prone to shop in Japanese manufacturers’ showrooms when seeking a good dirt bike. So this class of Harley-Davidson came and went. But we should recall that in 1975 the interesting and somewhat successful MX250 motocrosser arrived as a prototype, then a full production machine for 1978 with a factory-backed race team.

With less than a mile on its original odometer, this SX175 Harley-Davidson was graciously donated to the National Motorcycle Museum Collection by Delores Hanson late in 2019. There are a good number of Aermacchi-made Harley-Davidsons on display at the Museum. Street bikes, dirt track racers and dual sport machines, Harley’s efforts to serve a broader community of riders is here for you to see.


    • Engine: Two-Stroke Single
    • Type: Air-Cooled, Port Induction
    • Bore & Stroke: 61mm x 60mm / 2.40″ x 2.34 Inches
    • Displacement: 174.1cc
    • Compression Ratio: 10.7 : 1
    • Carburetor: 27mm Dell’Orto
    • Electrics: 12 Volt
    • Lubrication: Oil Injection
    • Starting: Kick Only
    • Horsepower: 17HP
    • Transmission: 5-Speed
    • Primary: Gear Driven
    • Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
    • Frame: Steel, Double Down Tube
    • Suspension: 32mm Marzocchi Fork / Swingarm, Twin Shocks
    • Wheels/Tires: 3.00 x 19 / 3.50 x 18
    • Brakes: 140mm SLS Drum / 140mm SLS Drum
    • Weight: 247 Pounds
    • Wheelbase: 54 Inches
3 replies
  1. Bruce Matty
    Bruce Matty says:

    These AerMacchi models came out with the mid/hi pipes in 1972. Been collecting old small Harleys for a long time.


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