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The Harley Davidson that wasn't

Is this a Harley Davidson? Well, yes; but not as you know it. Having seen the Brit bike business laid low by what management consultants called sector retreat – letting the Japanese take over the lightweight market and focussing on big bikes – Harley bought up Aermacchi and set about building a range of two-stroke lightweights to take on the Japanese in their most profitable markets. To give these post-Aermacchi air-cooled singles credibility HD used Aermacchi (and um, Yamaha) know-how to build 250 and 350 twins such as this “Harley Davidson” to give the Japanese factories a bloody nose on the world’s race tracks. It didn’t work, and it turned out the management consultants (a global concern still making similar cock ups today) knew less about the motorcycle market than even the British factories’ bosses. Still, it was a precursor to AMF selling Harley back to a consortium led by Willie G Davidson (as in the D in HD) who rebuilt the brand and set it on the road to greatness (if you understand the passion for Harleys. I’m one of those who need it explaining…)

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