How it all began

By Paul Brodie

It's been great reading other people's stories on how they got involved with Sprints, and I too have a story ...

In the late '60s I was a young teenager, and motorcycles were constantly on my brain. I had a minibike, Triumph Tiger Cub, Suzuki 80, Hodaka, and more. But my friend's brother had a 66H 250 Sprint. Even though it sounded great, we thought it was pretty weird! Imagine: no downtubes! And what about rubber mounted handlebars, levers you couldn't adjust up or down, a sidestand on the wrong side, a rear sprocket that was so incredibly small compared to the huge rear hub, a chainguard mounted so high as to be totally useless, clutch and brake levers that cost $8 apiece when Japanese levers were only $2 each. That's what a 15 year old remembers.

I also remember when my friend borrowed his brother's bike. He had to bump start it everywhere because the kickstarter was broken, and lean it against walls or trees because the sidestand crapped out, but I was amazed when I tried to follow him through a couple of S-bend curves -- he was gone! For a bike with no downtubes, it sure seemed to handle well. This was the only Sprint I ever saw as a teenager.

In the '70s I had graduated into my twenties, and found myself in Europe for a couple of months. I still had motorcycles on the brain, and dreamed of roadracing, even though I couldn't afford it. I was fascinated to find quite a few Aermacchis in Italy, but saw even more in Greece for some reason. They were being ridden as transportation, and some were quite dirty and in disrepair. My camera recorded the images, and I started to like them in spite of all the weirdness. I even thought of owning one.

Fastforward to the nineties. I STILL had motorcycles on the brain. And for some reason I kept on thinking about Aermacchis. In 1995 I really got the bug and HAD to have one. I saw them in Walnecks Cycle Trader every once in a while, so I knew there were some around. Finally, there was one in the local paper. A 1973 electric start model. The ad mentioned it was a restoration project, which was the understatement of the year! I think it had been under water, and not for a short time. The motor was seized, and so were both wheels. It was so bad, in fact, I didn't buy it. Which was unusual for me, because I've taken home a lot of junk in the past. However, I couldn't stop thinking about it (something to do with the brain), and two weeks later I phoned again. No one else had bought it either, and HECK! somebody had to buy it! Do you know how hard it was to load that porky pig into a Toyota van with half flat tires that didn't even roll?

I never did restore that bike, but the top end and transmission are in my roadracer and the carb ended up on the Ala Verde. And I have more Aermacchis than I can count on one hand. Life is good, eh?

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