How Much Does A Harley-Davidson MT500 Weigh & Why Are People Confused About It?

Many people think of cruisers when they hear the words "Harley-Davidson," but throughout the brand's long-running history, Harley-Davidson has actually produced many different types of bikes. The MT500, for example, is one of the rarest Harleys ever made, as an estimated 500 of them were ever built. With a weight of 370 lbs, this motorcycle is far lighter than much of what the brand offers today, even Harley-Davidsons geared specifically for new riders. Unfortunately, even if you like what you see, it's almost impossible to track one down due to how few were ever produced.

According to Harley-Davidson, the MT500 boasts a 482cc engine and produces 28 hp at 6,250 RPM, resulting in a top speed of about 75 mph. It doesn't come close to the fastest motorcycles ever built, and its top speed makes it a rough fit for highways. However, this motorcycle wasn't designed for regular consumers, but it was instead manufactured for military use where keeping up with traffic wasn't much of a concern.

What's special about the Harley-Davidson MT500?

As you've probably figured out by now, the MT500 isn't your typical Harley, and it has an interesting backstory behind it. The design dates back to the Armstrong MT500, a British military motorcycle, before Harley bought the design and production rights in 1987. From here, things get a little confusing. The Armstrong MT500 was apparently re-badged with Harley-Davidson branding, but the company also launched the MT350E in 1993, which took a significant number of design cues from its predecessor. The goal with both the purchase of Armstrong's design and the launch of the MT350 was to attract military contracts. However, this ended up being bad timing, as NATO forces, which included the US, had already begun the transition to diesel for its vehicles a few years earlier. 

Military vehicles typically run on diesel because it's less flammable and explosive than other fuel, and it's less prone to stalling, too. While a handful of American military vehicles don't run on diesel — like the M1 Abrams tank — most do, and that's ultimately what led to the MT500's limited run and Harley-Davidson's inability to secure a military contract. Harley ended production of the MT500 in 2000.

If you come across one in the wild, expect to spend well past $10,000 for it. It's a good showpiece for an enthusiast, but it's outclassed by many other motorcycles performance-wise. The only reason you'd want to pick one of these up is if you're a collector looking for something that can act as a conversation starter. If you do have one, you can still source parts for it from Force Motorcycles, a company dedicated to the bike.