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Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
Two weeks ago, we revealed George Woodman’s cute little Honda SS50. But George had a further ace up his sleeve: he was working on another, equally quirky project.

Et voilà, here it is: a stunning 1972 Aermacchi 350 TV SS, adorned with George’s signature wooden touches. (And if the Italian marque sounds familiar to our readers in the US, it’s because Harley had a half stake in the company in the 1960s.)

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
This custom belongs to the French cinematographer Axel Cosnefroy, who commissioned the build with zero creative direction.

Even the choice of donor was left up to George, whose real name is actually Sébastien Valliergues. That faith was not misplaced: the Biarritz-based woodcrafter only builds two or three bikes a year, as a sideline gig, but every single one is a smash hit. He even has a bike in the prestigious Haas Moto Museum.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
Sébastien’s been drawn to the Aermacchi’s horizontally mounted motor for quite some time, so when he received the open brief, it was time to find one.

He eventually found a suitable donor on Leboncoin—a French buy-and-sell website. And by ‘suitable,’ we mean in dire need of saving.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
“The bike was not in good condition when I bought it,” Sébastien tells us. “Some ‘restorations’ were necessary before anything else.”

That restoration included a full rewire, complete with a new stator and a small Ultrabatt battery. Sébastien also replaced the stock exhaust system with a new header and can.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
The fork tubes were bent too, so Sébastien had to source a new pair from the US, via eBay. He used those to rebuild the stock front end, but replaced the rear shocks with a new pair from Betor. The OEM wheels and brakes also received a major refresh.

Most importantly, when it came to aesthetics, “the bike was tired.” Sébastien envisioned a slim and trim street legal flat tracker, and set to work.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
The Aermacchi’s original fuel tank was beyond saving, so he hunted down an original unit in a more workable condition. Then he cut and welded it to slim it down, and built an electrics tray to hide underneath.

Moving to the back, Sébastien went to town on the subframe. It now features an extremely upswept loop, and a pair of extended rails with combination taillight-and-turn-signal LEDs embedded in them.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
Then there’s the customary woodwork. Sébastien bookended the build with two beech pieces: a headlight nacelle up front, and a rear fender. As always, his wood touches are subtle, tasteful and extremely well designed.

That front plate is particularly sweet, especially with the delightfully retro Marchal rally light.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
“I often use beech,” he says, “because it’s a hard wood and the color is light and uniform enough for the result I’m looking for. And for shaping, this wood reacts well to the carving and sanding process.”

“It’s also a good light base for lovely tints. On this one, I’ve simply made it weatherproof with a resin varnish that adds a very soft layer to the wood texture. It will be necessary to re-do it once a year to keep it in condition.”

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
Up top are custom-made rider and passenger seats, upholstered in leather and sitting on custom mounts. With the electrics relocated, and the airbox ditched in favor of a K&N filter, the area under the seat is sparse and tidy.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
For smaller items, Sébastien turned to the Harley-Davidson aftermarket parts specialists W&W Cycles. The German company supplied the controls, switches and speedo, and also the handlebars—but they didn’t quite have the old-school sweep that Sébastien wanted. So he hacked them up and re-welded them.

For paint, Sébastien pinged the same specialist who shot his Honda: Jérome Lopez from Colorside64 in Anglet, Basque country. With basic but fresh hues on the frame and tank, Sébastien’s beech pieces really shine.

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood
The Aermacchi is more than just some clever woodwork and a set of wheels, though. Séb reports that it’s “minimal, light, and so agile, with a great sound from the amazing 350 engine.”

Sounds like a total hoot—and the fact that it’ll attract admirers wherever it goes is a bonus.

George Woodman | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Axel Cosnefroy

Beech racer: A classic Aermacchi 350 with a touch of wood

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