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Friday, October 13, 2023

The HD Shortster Saga: Harley-Davidson's Little-known Mini Bike

Unique ONES - Harley-Davidson, a name synonymous with powerful cruiser motorcycles, may not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of scooters or mini bikes. However, the company's history holds an interesting chapter from the 1970s, where they ventured into the world of compact, lightweight motorcycles. In 1972, the iconic American motorcycle manufacturer unveiled the HD MC-65, affectionately known as the HD Shortster, a diminutive two-wheeler that could be considered the antithesis of their larger, thundering machines.
Back to the 1972, turn out Harley Davidson ever had a mini bike called HD 'Shortster.' (Picture from: NaikMotor)
The HD Shortster, often referred to as the "Shortster," earned its name due to its compact and diminutive nature. It marked a departure from the heavyweight motorcycles that Harley-Davidson was known for. Manufactured by Aermacchi (AMF) Harley-Davidson, a collaborative effort between HD and an Italian company, the Shortster was an attempt to tap into the mini motorcycle market.
1970 Harley-Davidson M65S Sport Leggero. (Picture from: NaikMotor)
While Harley-Davidson is primarily known for its legendary heavyweight bikes, the HD Shortster was a stark contrast. It is the smallest motorcycle ever produced by the American motorcycle giant. This venture into mini motorcycles was a result of the changing times and a desire to attract a younger audience. Harley-Davidson aimed to introduce a new generation of riders to their brand, and the Shortster played a crucial role in this strategy.
1972 Harley-Davidson MC-65 'Shortster.' (Picture from: NaikMotor)
The HD Shortster can be seen as a miniature version of the Harley-Davidson M65S Leggero, which was in production from 1967 to the early 1970s. Both the Leggero and the Shortster were products of AMF Harley-Davidson, and the latter borrowed its engine design from the former. The Leggero, with its Italian influence, provided the foundation for the development of the Shortster.
An advertisement of 1972 Harley-Davidson MC-65 'Shortster.' (Picture from: NaikMotor)
Production of the HD Shortster commenced in 1971, and it was marketed as a 1972 model. Interestingly, this mini motorcycle was exclusively available in the North American market. The introduction of the 'Shortster' was aimed at capturing the interest of children in the United States and Canada during that era. Harley-Davidson's marketing team envisioned the Shortster as a transitional bike that could lead young riders to eventually embrace the larger and more powerful "Sportster" models.
1974 Harley-Davidson X90. (Picture from: NaikMotor)
In an intriguing 1972 advertisement, Harley-Davidson depicted a child standing proudly beside his Shortster, with the reflection in the water hinting at the allure of the larger Sportster model. This marketing approach starkly contrasted with the promotion of the Honda Monkey, a mini bike that was more popular among adults.

The HD Shortster, weighing a mere 63 kg, had a wheelbase of 99.56 cm and featured 10-inch alloy wheels equipped with 3.0-inch off-road tires. Its heart was a single-cylinder 2-stroke engine with a 65cc capacity, boasting a bore of 44mm and a stroke of 42mm. This modest powerplant produced around 4.5 horsepower, relying on a Dell’Orto 18mm carburetor to supply fuel to the combustion chamber.
The difference with 'Shortster' can be seen from the muffler position, the smaller headlamps and the rear lights. (Picture from: NaikMotor)
Power from the engine was transferred through a compact three-speed gearbox. Notably, the Shortster lacked an oil separator unit, requiring users to mix oil directly in the fuel tank at a 25:1 ratio for proper lubrication.

For enthusiasts of the Shortster, the reference is often to the 1972 HD MC-65, as Harley-Davidson introduced a larger 90cc engine version in 1973, known as the HD X90. Beyond the engine capacity, the differences lay in the bike's accessories, such as the lights and muffler location.
In retrospect, the HD Shortster serves as a fascinating relic in Harley-Davidson's history. While it might not have gained the same iconic status as their heavyweight counterparts, it offers a unique glimpse into the company's willingness to experiment and adapt to changing market dynamics. The Shortster is a testament to the brand's ability to diversify and cater to a broader audience, even if only for a short period in their storied history.

Kept spur your adrenaline on the power of two-wheeled monster and stay alive with the true safety riding. May God will forgive Your sins and so does the cops...... *** [EKA [22092018] | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | EXTREME POWER SPORTS SAN ANTONIO | HD FORUM UK]
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