1971 HARLEY-DAVIDSON BAJA 100: ITALIAN HAWG
BY TOM WHITE
In the late 1960s the market for small-bore, two-stroke trail bikes was exploding. When Harley-Davidson realized that Hodaka was selling 10,000 bikes a year,
the company decided to jump into the 100cc trail bike
market. Since Harley owned the Italian Aermacchi
factory, it had the factory build an Italian Harley dirt
bike. It was called the Harley Baja 100, and it was
hopelessly tall, short, underpowered and ill-handling.
But Harley didn’t give up on the Baja 100. It had its
race team hire some of the best desert racers in SoCal
to ride the 100cc Baja. The riders included Bruce Ogilvie,
Terry Clark, Earl Roeseler, Larry Roeseler, Mitch Mayes
and, later, Hodaka ace Bob Rutten. As you would expect,
Baja 100s were soon dominating the trail bike class,
and the Italian bikes moved off the showroom floors
like hot cakes.