Harley Davidson Dirt Bike History: There Have Only Been a Few

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For the motorcycle history buffs among us, I have a question:  Do you know how many different models of Harley-Davidson dirt bikes were ever produced (including enduro bikes and dual-sports)?

I am going to name every one I am aware of, but please let me know if I missed any. 

Keep in mind here that I am talking about factory-made, off-road motorcycles. 

I am not talking about flat tracker conversions or the occasional “dual-Sportster” picture that pops up around the net.

Harley Davidson Dirt Bikes

Below, I’ll cove some of the main HD dirt bikes that have been produced, including:

  • Harley Hummers.
  • Ranger.
  • Scat.
  • Bobcat.
  • SX.
  • Sprint.
  • SX-250.
  • MT-500.

Rangers, Scat, & Bobcat

After WW2, Harley-Davidson began producing lightweight motorcycles that are often generically referred to as Harley “Hummers.” 

The engine design was actually a German design that was acquired as part of war reparations. 

The design became the basis for the Harley Hummer, as well as bikes manufactured by the British and Russians.

  • Ranger (1962): 165cc
  • Scat (1962-1965): 165/175cc
  • Bobcat: 175cc

Below is a picture of a Scat that I took while at the Harley-Davidson museum

They have quite a few nice examples of these off-road variety Hummers at the facility. 

Out in the real world, I have only come across your run-off-the-mill street Hummer.

Harley Davidson Scat Dirtbike

SX (The Early Sprint Variety)

Harley also produced an off-road version of their Sprint line, called the SX starting in 1969. 

There were smaller and larger versions of this bike. 

These were produced as part of Harley-Davidson’s joint venture with the Italian manufacturer Aermacchi.

The 350cc variety with its flat looking cylinder engine proved quite capable in off-road races and flat-tracks. A prototype is shown below.

Harley Davidson Sprint SX

SX (The Later Years)

Harley eventually increased their stake in Aermacchi from 50% to 100%, doubling-down on the enduro craze that was going on in the early 1970’s. 

The below model, showing the more traditional vertical cylinder was produced until 1979. 

The bike shown below won the Baja 500 – the only motorcycle in Harley-Davidson’s entire history to ever win the event.

Harley-Davidson Dirt Bikes

MT-500

In general, when we think of Harley-Davidson war bikes, we think of the early flathead motorcycles, often decked out with sidecars. 

Harley-Davidson did, however, “badge-engineer” the MT-500 in the late 90’s. 

The design started in Italy, but was also picked up by the British. 

Very few of the bikes were ever produced and fetch huge dollars when they pop up at auctions.

Harley Davidson MT-500

That’s it folks – those are all the Harley-Davidson dirt bikes that I am aware of. 

I bet there are a few more obscure models I am not thinking of, especially if you start including things like flat-track racers and hill-climb bikes.

Bottom-line, Harley-Davidson dirt bikes have never been amazing performers. 

Except for the highly modified SX-250 referenced above, Harley has generally lost big time in the world of off-road racing. 

They are the king of the cruiser and that title goes uncontested.

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