January 6, 2020
The Archives recently added this unique 1971 Leggero in 'flaming red' to its permanent collection.
With the advent of small 50cc bikes imported into the United States in the early 60s, Harley-Davidson responded with the introduction of the M-50 in 1965. These lightweight machines were produced in Italy with Harley-Davidson's partner Aermacchi. The M-50 was a small 50cc displacement single with a step-through chassis. In 1966 a sport version was added to the lineup with a more conventional style fuel tank and the engine suspended from the rear downtube of the frame. In 1967 the displacement was increased to 65ccs and the M-65S 'Sport' was born. One unique feature was the modified gear shift from the left side allowing for right-hand shifting more familiar with American riders. This meant changing the kickstart mechanism, so it operated in reverse with a downward forward motion.
In 1971 the M-65S was rebranded as the "Leggero" meaning 'light' in Italian – which was appropriate given its weight of just over 134 lbs. The Leggero was powered by a two-stroke single with three speed constant mesh transmission. A low seat height and nimble 45-inch wheelbase made it an ideal bike for younger, entry-level riders. The 1971 ad campaign promised the bike would provide a "Passport to New Freedom" and that although classified as a mini-cycle, it would provide "maxi-fun!"
The Archives recently added this unique 1971 Leggero in 'flaming red' to its permanent collection. The bike has only 21 original miles on the odometer. It was won by the previous owner in a Ducks Unlimited dinner raffle in 1971 and was displayed in his living room for the last 48 years!