If you’re looking for a Harley-Davidson that no one else on your block probably has, then you’ll definitely want to take a look at this. It’s a 1997 Harley-Davidson MT350E. If seeing “Harley-Davidson” and “military bike” in the same sentence instantly makes you think of the WLA, read on, because this definitely isn’t that.
When any OEM has as lengthy a history as Harley-Davidson, its path will, by necessity, cross the paths of multiple other OEMs along the way. No motorcycle company exists in a bubble—or, at least, not one that lasts for very long. Sooner or later, you’re going to find some type of collaboration that you may not have known about yesterday. The Harley-Davidson MT350E is precisely one of those times.
Back in the 1980s, Armstrong Motorcycles took over the former Clews Competition Motorcycles (CCM) facility in Bolton, England. It produced Can-Am motorcycles under license for U.K. customers through 1987. While that was going on, it also obtained the rights to SWM’s XN Tornado motorcycle in 1984, when SWM was going under and selling off its assets. This bike, which featured a Rotax single-cylinder engine, eventually evolved into the Armstrong MT500.
Armstrong-CCM supplied its olive drab MT500 motorcycles to a number of militaries, beginning in 1984. First and foremost, of course, was the British Army. Later, the Canadian and Jordanian armies also had some MT500s to flog around. These sturdy 500s were built to take a beating, and they had all-important kick starts, so there was one less thing to worry about out in the field.
By 1987, NATO was using MT500s as standard motorcycle equipment. Around this time, Armstrong-CCM sold the rights to the MT500 to Harley-Davidson, which then began producing them in the U.S. At some point along the way, Harley made the decision to knock down displacement and create the MT350 instead. From 1993, new bar-and-shield badged MT350s were once again sold to the British Army, this time straight from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It’s built by Harley-Davidson, but it’s a Rotax-engined bike, based on a design that Armstrong-CCM adapted from an SWM along the way. In a way, it’s almost fitting that it became NATO’s bike of record at the time, because it seems to have taken an awful lot of international cooperation to bring this bike to as many riders as it’s touched over the years. How many years, you wonder? Harley-Davidson made and sold these for military use until the year 2000.
The engine is a 348cc Rotax four-valve, overhead camshaft single which produced a claimed 30 horsepower and 29 newton-meters (or 21 pound-feet) of torque. The complete bike weighs about 162 kilograms, or a touch over 357 pounds. Interestingly, it featured some sturdy components: Marzocchi front fork, Ohlins rear shock, Akront wheels, and Grimeca disc brakes all around. (The older MT500, meanwhile, had to make do with drum brakes.) Even small things, like the use of needle roller bearings in the swingarm and tapered roller steering head bearings up front were nice touches on the MT350. You also have the choice of either a kick or an electric start.
This particular unit comes with a slew of military documentation, which is pretty excellent if you’re a documentation nerd like many of us here at RideApart. The detachable plastic pannier boxes that mount on either side of the engine were fitted with an aftermarket stereo and speaker system. The selling shop says that it’s removed all that, but you’ll need to address the speaker holes if you want your panniers to be water-tight again. It also comes with the stock plastic rifle-holder on the rear right, built specifically to fit a Steyr AUG rifle.
The bike for sale here shows 14,340 miles on the clock, though total mileage is unknown. It’s currently located in Edgewater, Florida and comes with a clean North Carolina title. The auction ends on October 12, 2021, and the bid as of October 11 is $1,100, with the reserve price having not yet been met. If you’re interested in a Harley that’s all green, with no chrome in sight, this could be the bike for you. Head over to Iconic Motorbike Auctions and place a bid if you need it now.