Can Ariel Turn Back Time?
The Ariel brand is set to get back into motorbikes and it could just be time to get excited about being a rough tough biker again, presuming you have £20,000, that is.
Anyone familiar with the Café Racer trend amongst bikers will be very familiar with the name Ariel, a brand synonymous with British engineering and motorbike innovation. Sadly, that company, which was based in Bournbrook, Birmingham and produced the famed Ariel Square Four, went out of business some years ago. In 1999, the Ariel name was resurrected by an engineering company in Somerset. Since then, they have been a low volume producer of the open cockpit track day race car, the Ariel Atom.
The exciting news for bikers, though, is that Ariel is launching an all-new motorbike which will be the first new bike to carry the Ariel brand in 50 years. Called the Ace, which is an obvious reference to the brand’s Café Racing heritage, between 100 and 150 versions of the bike will be built each year alongside the Atom sports car at the company’s Crewkerne factory.
You can already order the Ariel Ace priced, as mentioned, a hefty £20,000, even though production is not slated to start until next year. The company is planning to allow a fairly high level of bespoke alternatives and, thus, the final price of the bikes will vary from unit to unit and the options list is extensive – changes can be made to the seat height, footrests, brake and gear levers, handlebars, as well as the tank size, wheels, exhausts, bodywork and finish.
Ariel has become famous for shedding the production line manufacturing techniques, pioneered by our old mate Henry Ford, and returning to a more sedate and dated build bay system. So, just like the Ariel Atom, each Ace motorcycle will be hand-built by one Ariel technician in an independent build bay – customers will even be able to visit their bike during the manufacturing process…to ensure that the builder or bike doesn’t get lonely?
Our friends over at Honda will supply the power plant for the bike with a 1237cc V4 engine, offering 173bhp and 131Nm of torque. Zero to 62mph is said to take 3.4 seconds alongside a claimed top speed of 165mph, with Ariel claiming the Ace’s performance ‘has been aimed at the average rider being able to extract comfortable and consistently attainable performance’.
The Honda lump can be paired to a six-speed manual or dual clutch transmission with sport and manual push button control. Underpinning the Ariel Ace is an aluminium space frame that echoes the Atom’s exposed chassis while making use of bespoke materials and designs. In a rather unusual move for any auto manufacturer, the company has also guaranteed its new motorbike can be returned to the factory when new upgrades become available. It already runs this option for the Atom, allowing modifications to be fitted at any time as and when customers desire. This sounds like a bit of a nightmare but then they don’t have that many customers yet.
In other news concerning Ariel, the company has announced a collaboration with its local constabulary to create a police version of the Atom. Obviously not to be outdone by the Italian police receiving their Lambo Huracan, the Somerset police has commissioned their very own super-duper highway cruiser. In fact, Ariel has released a one-off police version of the Atom following a tie-up between itself, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Safer Rider campaign. It may not have a fridge in the glove compartment – heck, it doesn’t even have a glove compartment – but we bet it is every bit as much fun to drive as the Italian Huracan.
The new Atom Police Cruiser is based on the regular Atom 3.5R, but its Honda engine has been tweaked to produce 350bhp instead of the standard 245bhp, meaning the Police Atom will go from zero to 62mph in 2.6 seconds. It also features a police livery plus functioning sirens and blue lights.
‘Our business is about going fast, very fast, but there is a time and a place,’ said Simon Saunders of Ariel. ‘The Atom is designed to be driven to a race track, where you can drive to your limits in safety and in a professional environment designed for the purpose. The road really isn’t the place to explore your or your vehicle’s limits.
‘We’re just about to launch an all new Ariel motorcycle and we want our bikes and customers to be as safe as they possibly can be as well, so this message is important to us. There’s always one certain loser in a motorcycle collision and that’s the motorcyclist.’