Blog by Craig Tyler
Rarest Harley-Davidson MT500
Craig Tyler
Craig Tyler
02 Oct 2021

Rarest Harley-Davidson MT500

The MT500 is powered by a 500cc Rotax single-cylinder, air-cooled engine with 4 valves, 5 gears (unit construction), and most were kickstart only – though a small number were made with an electric start. The name stands for “military transport, 500cc” and there was also an MT350, which was fitted with a 350cc engine.

It’s a mechanically simple motorcycle designed explicitly for military use – though it’s broad adoption never took place due to many militaries only wanting diesel-powered vehicles for matters of logistical simplicity.

Each MT500 was fitted with a single rectangular headlight, as well as indicators and a tail light to ensure they were road legal – though these could all be disconnected if the motorcycle was needed for missions requiring stealth.

The bike was designed for a single rider only with no room for a pillion passenger, instead the rear of the bike has a rack for fixing gear bags or supplies.

The basic design started in Italy, before finding its way to Britain, being put into production with the Armstrong-CCM company in 1984. The model saw limited military use in Britain, Jordan, and Canada until it was phased out in 2000.

Harley-Davidson isn’t a stranger to badge-engineering motorcycles, and if you look back over the long arc of motorcycle history there are very few established marques that haven’t at least dabbled with rebranding bikes. The reason Harley bought the MT500 stateside was the hope of acquiring a military contract with the richest armed forces on earth. Sadly it never came to be, largely because of the aforementioned diesel-only guidelines.

The majority of the Harley-Davidson MT500s that were built, were built to the same or similar specifications. There are twin cases either side of the fuel tank – designed to hold documents or other items and be quickly interchangeable for messenger capabilities. There’s a waterproof rifle case on the rear right side for an SA/80 Bullpup rifle or similar, and the case is designed in such a way that it can take both scoped and unscoped weapons.

All-original MT500s only rarely come up for sale, possibly because collectors are sitting on them in anticipation of a value increase as they edge closer to vintage territory.
#harley #mt500

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  • djrose007 02 Oct 2021
    a fellow rider, here in the UK, has an MT350. carries a replica rifle in the carrier for shows, the children love it 😁
    • Mercedes Ingrid 02 Oct 2021
      djrose007, children always love everything military)
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