1976-harley-davidson-sx175_1

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.

Specifications:

    • 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
5 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.

    Reply
  2. Charles Ballance
    Charles Ballance says:

    Nice example of the 175. I happened upon this while looking for exactly how the SX chain guard is set up.
    Not seeing completely, but it is helpful to see an example. I’m finishing up conversion of my SS to SX. It’s been living with the SS chain guard and i’m finally going to straighten that out.

    Reply

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