Harley-Davidson Sprint SX350

Tomorrow’s classics: 1971-1974 Harley-Davidson Sprint SX350.

| July/August 2013

  • UTR SX350
    The Harley-Davidson Sprint SX350.
    Photo By MC Staff
  • Ducati Cobbed
    Ducati 350 Scrambler.
    Photo By MC Staff
  • UTR Honda Cobbed
    1968-1973 Honda CL350.
    Photo By MC Staff

  • UTR SX350
  • Ducati Cobbed
  • UTR Honda Cobbed

Harley-Davidson Sprint SX350
Claimed power: 25hp @ 7,000rpm (1971)
Top speed: 90mph
Engine: 344cc air-cooled OHV horizontal single
Weight (dry): 312lb
Price then/now: $870 (1971)/$2,400-$4,500

It’s a simple and time-honored recipe. Take a street-standard motorcycle, fit trail-type tires, scrambles handlebars and a high-level exhaust system, and — hey, presto! — your road bike becomes a mud-plugging enduro or desert-dueler. Of course, most street scramblers weren’t true offroad machines — but they looked like them. And the look was hot.

All this made sense to Harley-Davidson in 1971. Their 350SS street bike was hopelessly outclassed by Japanese twins of the same capacity, so to squeeze a few more years out of the ageing Aermacchi design they moved the 350 single into a bracket where standing quarter times and racetrack handling were less important.

The first generation SX350 really was little more than a 350SS street bike dressed up for the dirt. It retained the street bike’s banana-shaped spine frame with the engine slung below. For added strength, the rear subframe and suspension bolted to a pair of forged members replacing what had been tubes: stronger, maybe, but definitely heavier. Eighteen-inch rear and 19-inch front wheels were fitted with seriously knobby offroad tires rolling under abbreviated, high-mounted fender blades. A smaller gas tank and shorter seat were fitted, and gone was the street bike’s tachometer, together with the dated binnacle it lived in. High, cross-braced handlebars and a high-level muffler with wire heat shield finished the street-to-dirt makeover.



Underneath, not a lot changed. The Harley-Davidson Sprint SX350 retained the drivetrain and major components from the SS, including the street bike’s long-stroke 74mm x 80mm pushrod 4-stroke single, which continued to drive a 4-speed transmission through a gear primary and dry multiplate clutch, with chain drive to the rear wheel. Shifting was on the right, as was the kickstand, and the kickstarter was on the left — something that took American riders some getting used to.

Cycle Guide started its April 1971 review on the SX350 by saying, “if there is a more rugged enduro-type motorcycle than the new Harley Davidson 350cc Sprint, we haven’t run across it.” But that ruggedness came at a cost in weight: At 312 pounds dry, Cycle Guide considered the SX to be “almost 100lbs heavier than its competition” with a full tank of gas. (Though they didn’t specify what that competition was, a same year Bultaco Sherpa 350 weighed a claimed 211 pounds.) They also found that if the SX was “left sitting idle several days at a time . . . it then became necessary to bump start it.” Not a sterling commendation.






November December Vintage Motorcycle Events

Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride


Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!

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