When is a Harley not a Harley? When it’s an Aermacchi, like this RR250. At different times during its history, American manufacturer Harley Davidson seemed to recall the perceived benefits of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” and attempted to rectify a lack of road-racing product by absorbing an outside manufacturer, using the truckloads of cash generated selling leather chaps and vests and protective bandanas.
While they’ve been active and successful in dirt-track racing, they’ve only rarely been competitive in road racing, and a purchase of Aermacchi in the 1960’s attempted to fill that role. Most Aermacchi Harleys you’re likely to come across were Sprints, bikes that handled well and were powered by their outdated, but extremely reliable four-stroke singles, distinctively laid-over for a low center of gravity. But the writing was on the wall and, by the late 1960’s, it was clear that anyone who wanted to compete in smaller classes needed a two-stroke if they wanted to compete in smaller categories of racing or on the street.
In 1973, Aermacchi’s two-stroke twins were also rebadged as Harleys and the bikes won three 250cc championships in a row. Variations were raced as late as 1978. Aermacchi’s original two-stroke was based on a pair of dirt bike engines, siamesed together. It shared many internal parts with the Yamaha single on which it was based, keeping running costs for the high-performance machine under control. The bike was lighter than the Yamaha TZ available at the time, and proved to be very competitive.
Water-cooling was added for 1973 and power jumped from about 50hp to 58hp, and the Harley-badged bikes won three 250cc championships in a row.
From the original eBay listing: 1975 Harley Davidson RR250 Daytona Road Race Bike
Motor turns nicely. Overall bike shows little use.
2-stroke water cooled 2 cylinder
No race damage, excellent over all condition
Race #53 raced at Daytona in 1970s, some history.
Has not been run since 1970s.
Dealer owned since new
There are five days left on this auction with a starting bid of $30,000 and no takers so far. The Buy It Now is listed as $35,000 so it’s pretty clear what the seller believes this is worth. It’s unrestored and a bit rough around the edges, but that’s the nature of true racing machines: ten-foot paint jobs and scuffed paint are the norm when the goal is speed.
A cool bike from another, slightly forgotten period of Harley’s racing history. I still hold out hope that they’ll shock me speechless and actually “build” something like this again. Plenty of custom shops are assembling Harley café racers and sporty retros are all the rage. I can’t imagine that a stylish, agile bike based on their new 750 wouldn’t find buyers.