Ariel Motorcycles launches the Ace
They'll be built in Somerset, England, will be powered by 1237cc V4 Honda VFR1200 engines, will be capable of around 165mph, and will carry Ariel badges on the tanks.
Which makes them ... well, Ariels. Sort of.
Ariel Ltd, which owns the legendary Ariel name, already builds the Atom; a road-legal trellis-framed, four-wheeled racer (see further down this page). But Ariel Ltd has for a while been promising a new motorcycle intended to pick up where the original Ariel company left off in 1970.
Except that the last bike produced by Ariel Motorcycles (then under the control of BSA) was a tilting three-wheeled 49cc Ariel 3; a reasonable attempt at building a small commuter shopping trolley that even granny might feel comfortable on. But for all its banking technology virtues, the Ariel 3 was an ignominious end for a firm (founded in 1902) that gave us the Red Hunter, the Square Four, the Leader and the Arrow.
These new two-wheeled rocket ships will, we understand, be called the Ace. Or is that Aces? Either way, those Honda engines offer 173bhp with around 96lb-ft of tap which should be enough for the vast majority of riders.
The transmissions will also be from Honda complete with a single-sided shaft drive and a choice of a 6-speed gearbox or Honda's Dual Clutch Transmission system which is designed to be either fully automatic or semi-automatic.
The frames are aluminium. Fork options will include a girder design from Ariel, or an inverted Öhlins pair of prongs, with Öhlins also handling rear suspension in both instances. Buyers will be able to opt for different steering head angles and wheel-bases (ranging from 1541 to 1563mm).
A pair of Nissin 320mm dual floating discs with 6-piston calipers will be fitted at the front. A Nissin 276mm disc and two-piston caliper will look after the rear. A choice of five and seven-spoke aluminium alloy wheels are offered, or carbon-fibre if your pockets are deep enough.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, these machines are bespoke and will be available in a variety of configurations and colours.
Three different seat perches are available ranging in height from 745mm to 825mm. There will also be a choice of steering head angles, and wheel-base can range from 1541 to 1563mm.
From 2015 onward, Ariel plan to be knocking out around 150 of these motorcycles each year. And the price? Around £20,000.
Here at Sump, we're not exactly blown away by these mo'sickles, but we don't particularly dislike them either—which might be a problem for Ariel if we're representative of general opinion (which we probably ain't). In the world of motorcycles, and elsewhere, its better to be loved and hated by opposing camps than to have everyone agree that "yeah, that's okay."
Blandness is the killer.
And the idea of sticking a Honda motor in the frames grates a little too. But don't get us wrong, Honda engines are great. In Hondas. But the Ariel name surely deserves something a little more distinct, especially when you recall how the 4-cyclinder Square Four designed by Edward Turner made the world sit up and pay attention.
These bikes look more pick'n'mix velocipedes with nothing too original or startling or challenging going on between the spindles. The CAD signature is all over them too, which kinda dehumanises the concept; the idea of machines designed partly by machines and largely made by machines.
But pick'n'mix? Is that fair? Well, you could say that about Brough Superiors too. And many people do see Brough in exactly that light.
If we were really unkind, we'd say that they look as predictable as the next bus coming. But they do look very well built and up-to-the-minute.
The bottom line? Well it's almost always a wonderful thing when a firm builds and creates and grows. And in that spirit, we ought to be more generous, especially as this particular firm is British and will no doubt bring home some much needed bacon. So maybe it's really just the Ariel badges on the tanks that waters our beer, and maybe that's unrealistic of us. Ya gotta get it while it's going, ain't ya? So good luck to 'em.
— Big End
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Copyright Sump Publishing 2014