FEATURES

THE AERMACCHI CHIMERA - IT'S THE BIKE OF THE WEEK

PHWOOOARRR! YES FOLKS, IT'S A LOOKER!


Let's forget for a moment how actually good it is. Because it isn't that good... but! It has been proven over and over again (anecdotally with no real evidence or reference to data) that humans (that's us) buy something if it's good looking enough - all other facts fade away, or simply aren't strong enough to steer us away from folly.

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You've all done it, admit it- tried to form a meaningful relationship with somebody whose character stunk like a high summer drain but looked fab. Or purchased something attractive which in the end, you realise, was unwise.

Now I'm not saying it would be unwise to buy an Aermacchi Chimera, far from it, but we must realise that because of it's unusual beauty and rarity, you pay over the odds for what is an ordinary Aermacchi with a nice frock on. You're paying for the frock. At least you get to wear this one, as it were.

Personally, I love the whole Fifties, Sixties Covered Bike thing - jet age styled, enclosing bodywork in a doomed attempt to convince commuters and dandies that your smoky leaky noisy rattly motorcycle is a clean dry way to get around. They're hilarious.

Others tried it - Ariel Arrow, Leader, Vincent Black Prince, Velocette LE etc. Of course they were often trying to somehow nick a bit of the appeal of scooters, but basically none of them lasted very long, and they were mostly ugly. But sometimes, just occasionally, there was a design for enclosed bodywork that looked alright, and the Chimera is that. It's Italian, and as we all know, they are keen on looks.

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Designed by Alfredo Bianchi in 1956 the Chimera, which means “dream” in Italian, was his first design job for the company, and was offered in 175 and 250 versions.
The horizontal 4 stroke pushrod engine was unremarkable, though better than the British engines of the time, and the bike had monoshock rear suspension!

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Chimera monoshock

The engine was the same as on many later models, and eventually used in the "Harley-Davidson" Sprint that sold in numbers in the USA until the early 70s. It also made a great basis for racers of the time, and in short stroke form is quite tuneable. They all have four speeds and a tedious left hand kickstart. Standard, they are more chuggers than screamers.

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Aermacchi Harley Davidson!

Panels are mainly steel with a bit of alloy for show. This bike, as with many of the other attempts at streamlining, was not a sales success, and during 8 years of production, only 295 bikes were built. So if you want one, you're going to need to look hard, probably in Italy, and you're also going to need to be one of those rich people I keep hearing about.

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Ariel Leader

Basically, if you have to ask about the price, you (and I) can't afford it. But the good news is - you don't have to save up! You can get an Ariel Leader instead,("Tomorrow's Design-Today!") and jazz it up a bit! Bargain! Or even a Suzuki SW1 ? Hmmm...

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Suzuki SW1

On a general note about older bikes- Them millionaires are spoiling everything for everyone except other millionaires. It's called trickledown, if I misunderstand correctly. Zing!

Posted by Jerry Rulf
for Wemoto News on 24 June 2015 in Features

Edited By: Daisy Cordell

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