Ariel is equally famed for the look of its exposed-frame creations in the worlds of two wheels and four, but its latest reveal ups the design significance of the skeletal component more than ever. In case you hadn’t already noticed, the new Ace Iron Horse motorbike has a polished aluminium frame that’s been finished entirely by hand. It comes together with a number of other polished parts to create Ariel’s most visually striking bike, no, product, yet – the work taking some 70 hours to finish.
The Iron Horse gets its name from Ariel’s combination of the historic and modern in this new machine, which is set to make its public debut at this month’s Motorcycle Live show at the NEC Birmingham. The moniker links the Ace to Ariel’s late 1920s boost, when then sales boss Vic Mole used an Ariel motorcycle to ride 10,000 near-continuous miles, and crossed the English Channel on an Ariel bike-powered boat. No joke. He was pivotal in giving Ariel the image of modern engineering and chassis design that it retains today, affirming that its machines could indeed go the distance - and then some.
As such, behind the new shiny parts, the Iron Horse retains the Ace’s proven mechanical setup, albeit with sizeable boosts. It keeps the Ace’s 174hp 1,237cc Honda V4 at its heart, adding Ohlins TTX front dampers with compression and rebound adjustment to enhance its road handling and feel through the handlebars. Things get properly nerdy with the inclusion of eccentric bearings that can adjust the head angle from 21.8 to 28.4 degrees, while rear Ohlins Pro Link suspension and an aluminium swing arm completes the even more exotic setup.
Still, the bike’s standout feature is, of course, its shinier-than-ever CNC machined, hand welded aluminium frame. It’s made of seven individual pieces of aircraft grade aluminium, which the brand believes perfectly illustrates its philosophy of old and new. To get that shine, one poor/lucky (you decide) builder is tasked with completing the entirely hand-based job. Tom Siebert, Ariel bikes manager, says “it is a labour of love from start to finish”.
Surrounding the frame is carbon fibre bodywork and a carbon fuel tank sits at its front. To match the carbon’s pattern, the stitching of the hand-trimmed seat runs at the same angle to the tank’s weave. There are polished aluminium handlebars, adjustable footrests, adjustable brake and gear levers and titanium heel guards and mounting brackets. You also get full LED lighting and LCD instrumentation, as well as six-piston front callipers, ABS and traction control. As said, it’s a convincing blend of old and new.
At £29,686 it’s admittedly not cheap, but when you consider the craftsmanship and engineering that’s gone into the Iron Horse – not to mention the history it carries – we suspect Ariel won’t have any trouble taking orders once the bike is shown to the public on November 16th.