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  #11  
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We had an Italian bike shop in my hometown, Fleetwood near Blackpool from 1975 to 77. They mainly sold Ducati, Moto Morini & Moto Guzzi but there were few takers as they were very expensive.There was a very fast Moto Guzzi 250 2 stroke twin ( & a Benelli version) available.He did a runner owing a lot of money & the shop was empty for a few months til it reopened as a British bike shop in early 78
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There was A LOT of misinformation and general lack of willingness to learn the truth when H-D was selling 2-strokes from their Aermacchi factory and unfortunately, in typical Harley-Davidson tradition, that misinformation has survived much longer than the model. In actuality, they were advanced in many ways for a lightweight bike. The first thing that struck me was the snail rear axle adjusters. Heads came from the factory with a plug installed where they were tapped for a compression release (or second plug). The chrome bore jugs have survived the otherwise demise of many engines.

As for their lack of competitiveness, THAT is just plain laughable. The factory race team used them for short tracks for several years, and NOT merely as a marketing ploy! Read more on it here. In addition to the factory team, various privateers ran them as well when there were plenty of those less expensive Japanese alternatives. The 2-cycle SS's & SX's along with the smaller Z's & X's were definitely a departure from the earlier four-stroke Sprints! That said, even those 4-stroke Sprints are STILL alive and RACING! Look here. The place where the lower price of the Japanese bikes may have had an impact was minibikes. You could buy a CT70 Honda for considerably less than a Z90 and didn't have to worry about your kid remembering the oil when he filled the gas tank! ...and yet, it seems like there are more of those minibikes surviving than the 175's & 250's. Maybe the intermediate bikes just got all used up and scrapped.

Not collectable??? Well, I do like to say EVERYTHING is relative to one's perspective, but try finding NOS or even usable used parts - cheap. Price a survivor or restored bike. Here's an obvious clue, ANYTHING with the H-D name associated with it is collectable! Empty rusty oil cans, bottle openers, advertising, anything, and especially examples of discontinued bikes.

There were a lot of factors in the decision by H-D's to sell the Aermacchi factory in 1978. Not the least being AMF/Harley's struggle to keep it's U.S. factories alive during the same period. The much maligned viability of the SS & SX line though needs look no further than the success Cagiva (who bought the factory and designs) had in the off-road category beginning almost as soon as they took over in late 78. Whether it was marketing or simply Europeans being more inclined to recognize the attributes of small bikes, Cagiva was using essentially the exact same design until 1983 during the period when they built much of their 80's reputation. Many Cagiva SX parts are a direct fit to H-D SX's.

When I made the original post though, I thought it was the free CB radio as a sales incentive that would get the most attention.
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CB radio was illegal in Britain til the early 80s so it was unlikely to be given away with the bikes here, if it was I don't remember it. Anything free from HD must be a collectors item! Thanks for the link to the dirt track & motocross bikes, interesting reading.

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you know if you pour enough money into something, it can become competitive, but for the populace, still a dog. i am not saying they were worthless, just a more defined niche. price goes with availability. you are absolutely correct on perspective. would i take that over a pacer or hummer, of coarse i would.
when you have hodaka, bultaco, kawasaki and do not forget yamaha which was dominate for a long time. each had +/-'s. there is also a very over looked machine with many advances and that was the bridgestone, rotary valve vs piston port. truth is less displacement would beat the hd machine. was our track typical, well maybe so, do not know.
i bet if you placed restored units of all brands in a row, the hd would come out near the bottom.
as a side comment on the cb, if you were to do it by the book here in the states back then, big brother required permits to operate the cb. was this a killer, not really as most did not bother to get them. i think i still have mine somewhere along with others i needed to operate in the marine industry.

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Here's another article on the 2-strokes. The dual sport configuration with lights and batteries, etc. certainly took away from off-road competitiveness, but dressed down for competition, I stand by my prior claim. Ted Boody rode a bored out SX to victory in the Astrodome, but the venerable Jay Springsteen reputedly raced a stock 74mm bore. As did many others. Sure they had weaknesses. Just like (almost) every machine.

CB's were a crazy fad weren't they? I never really got into them. My best friend was big into it! Mostly because of him I had one for a while. Bought in a bar one night - probably hot but who asked such questions back then (one reason I was one of those not bothering with a govt. license! ). The funny thing looking back from the present is the "radio" I had was configured like a (70's) telephone. Had a phone-type handset instead of the traditional mic and speaker. Convenient with the windows open and the eight track blasting. Now it's uncommon to encounter someone who doesn't have an actual phone in their pocket.

Pay close attention to the pizza pan sprockets on the last three! That was what gave instant throttle response on short tracks. Engine braking via the comp. release was a plus as well.






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