Recent memories of the Ariel brand centre on Simon Saunders' distinctive skeletal car and its mentalist Honda-engined performance. Those of a two-wheeled mindset will, of course, associate the brand with its much longer history of building motorcycles, a history to be revived with the confirmation of the new Ariel Ace.
More conventional looking naked option
Modern Ariel's association with Honda provided an obvious partner for the bike project too and the Ace is built around the Japanese firm's 1,237cc VFR1200 V4 engine driving the rear wheel via a shaft and choice of dual-clutch automated or six-speed manual gearing. At its heart the Ace is constructed from a machined aluminium frame that shares a visual resemblance with the steel tubes of
and provides a foundation for a number of customisable options. Tanks, bodywork, bars, seats, footrest positions and more can be tweaked according to taste, Ariel claiming the Ace can be configured as 'a low riding cruiser, through street and naked machines to super sports' according to customer whim.
With 175hp and a 165mph top speed it goes without saying the Ace will be rapid enough to keep up the Ariel tradition but it's deliberately not being pitched as a sports bike. "We looked at an out and out, super lightweight race bike but they are already out there and are so far beyond the abilities of most riders that we took the decision to produce a really fast bike that was easy to ride and within the capabilities of most riders," says Simon Saunders in the press release announcing the Ace. "Our motto is Serious Fun and those two words absolutely encapsulate what the Ace is all about."
Wild design, clever engineering - pure Ariel
With a starting price of £20,000 the Ace is not going to be cheap, especially if you indulge yourself in the bespoke builds and options Ariel is talking about. But it's tapping into a demand for customisation and configurable bikes reflected by more mainstream brands too, be that BMW with
or more cruiser-like options like
the Yamaha XV950
As you'd expect given the price and scale of production, the Ace is a much more focused piece of kit and full of the kind of engineering art you'd hope. Ariel claims 70 hours of machining is required for the six main pieces of billet section aluminium that are welded together to create the frame, eccentric bearings at the front meaning tuneable head angles. Fork options include a linkage design or more conventional telescopic ones, Ohlins providing the damping in both cases with the single-sided rear swing arm provided by Pro Link. If you really want to geek out on the full spec and component list knock yourself out by reading the full press release here.
The bike will debut at Goodwood this weekend and small scale production of 100-150 units per year will start in 2015.