Ariel, aren’t they the guys who make the ridiculously fast Atom sports car? You’re right – the Somerset-based company produces the almighty Atom, which is often considered the fastest-accelerating sports car money can buy. But they’re now turning their attention back to motorcycles.
So, they’ve got history with two wheels? They have indeed. Ariel has been welding engines to bicycles since 1870 but they haven’t produced a proper motorbike for almost 50 years. The new Ariel Ace will put an end to all that when it goes on sale in the coming months.
The bodywork looks a little, erm, tubular…There is a reason for that; it's because the aluminium frame is the only common thing between all variants of the Ace. It acts as a building block for the various fuel tank, body and suspension options that will make every bike completely bespoke to the customer. Think of it like big boys' Meccano.
Is the engine bespoke, too? No – Ariel has continued its close relationship with Honda and pinched an engine from the current generation VFR model. It’s a 1200cc, 170bhp V4 unit and engineers have fettled it to produce astonishing performance that’s easily handled by your ‘average’ rider. That still means a top speed of 165mph and a 0-60mph figure of 3.4 seconds – enough to scare most Ferrari owners.
All of this low volume, hand-built malarkey sounds very expensive… The Ariel Ace is supposed to start at £20,000, but the options list is so long and tempting, that figure could easily and quickly escalate. In return, Ariel promises every customer that just one man will work on his or her bike, meaning they can pop in for a cup of tea and discuss the build as it happens. It’s also ‘upgradeable’…
Upgradeable? Like an iPhone? In a way, yes. The Ariel Ace can be returned to the workshop throughout its lifecycle to have new parts added, the engine software re-mapped or, thanks to the common frame, the layout changed at any point.
Is that low seat causing you back problems? No worries, pop in and choose a new one. Don’t like the flat, streetfighter bars? Fear not, Ariel has some sweet café racer numbers ready to go.