1968 Harley Davidson Rapido
Those of us that love vintage motorcycles always have some sort of project going on. It may be as easy as just a major winter service on your daily rider, which in reality, always turns into something much bigger (read, expensive)…or, it may be fixing up the old bike that you set aside when you got your new / old bike, which again can get expensive…or, remember that basket case you bought from a friend of a friend of a friend ten years ago thinking you would bring it back to life and sell it for big bucks…you know, the one still sitting there in the far corner of your garage that your wife looks at it once or twice a year and asks (with a certain amount of cynicism / sarcasm in her voice) if you are ever going to do something with it.
By the way, for those of you not familiar with the term ‘basket case’, it is a conglomerate of parts that at one time or another was a motorcycle and could be again, if all the parts are there (mainly it just takes up space). And then there are project bikes that really need little more than some basic tune up parts, a good carb clean and some elbow grease. This is my kind of winter project…plus it gets me out of having to watch Dancing with the Stars with the wife.
Choosing a project bike comes down to only two things, how good are your mechanical skills and how much money do you want to invest. In my case both are minimal. My criterion is find a bike that is a runner (or was when it was put away), parts are available on ebay, craigs list, or your local salvage yard and you can get a service manual. Another good thing to have handy is a friend who is a better mechanic than you.
Currently I have enough projects to keep me busy for the next couple of years but I am always on the look out for something that is unique, fun to ride around, and small enough to bury in the back of the barn so the wife wouldn’t find it. Today I found just such a bike on ebay. It’s a Harley Davidson.
Most everyone thinks big, heavy, and lots of chrome when you say Harley Davidson but there was a time when ‘The Motor Company’ actually did build and sell little two stroke fun bikes…no kidding. Harley did build some of them here in the USA but then they switched to the Italian firm Aermacchi. It’s a long story and you can read some of our other posts to get that whole history. Anyway, Harley was trying capitalize on the growing youth market and those that were just looking for cheap transportation, the timing of all this is just about the time of the Japanese invasion of the motorcycling world here in America. If you are old enough to remember Honda’s “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign, you’ll see the similarities in Harley’s advertising.
Today I found a nice, not too difficult winter project for someone looking for a neat little around town or high giggle factor canyon bike…the Harley Davidson 125cc Rapido. A simple little two stroke from Aermacchi in Italy. I will say this about these bikes, if you are looking for quality fit and finish, reliable electrics and low maintanence..look elsewhere. But…if you would like a neat little bike that will put a grin on your face, the Rapido will do the trick, just don’t ask too much of it.
The bike I found today does need a few parts and a little love (Okay..a bunch of love) but it is a runner and for someone who needs a reason to be in the garage and away from singing and dancing shows, this little motorbike is an easy project. Click on the pic’s below for more info and pictures. The stamp artwork at the top of the page is courtesy of Alyssa Townsend, a very talented young artist from Oakland, Ca. You can find more of her work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/townzombie