By Byron Wilson, Associate Editor

Custom bikes built your way

Ariel is back in the motorcycle business, with the historic British marque having announced a unique model for 2015 called the Ace. This is the first motorcycle carrying the Ariel moniker in more than 50 years, as the latest incarnation of the brand has focused on the Atom supercar since the turn of the current century.

There’s little about the Ace to indicate any lineage to the Square Fours and Red Hunters of the past, with many styling and performance cues taken instead from the Atom, such as the auspicious perimeter frame and use of a Honda-built engine. The Ace will be produced in very limited quantities, the marque estimating between 100 to 150 motorcycles per year, and each will be hand-built in an individual bay to the buyer’s specification. Ariel promises a swath of customization options, “from low riding cruiser, through street and naked machines, to super sport bikes,” according to the press release announcing the Ace. The new Ariel Ace will be manufactured in Crewkerne, Somerset, and is estimated to start at around 20,000 British pounds (a little over 34,000 USD at the writing of this article).

“Motorcyclists have a real passion for their machines,” said Simon Saunders, director of Ariel. “They like them to be individual, and they want them to be their bike, not just another bike identical to hundreds or thousands of others. The usual route is to buy a standard bike and then add various aftermarket components to change the bike into what they want. However, with the Ace, the uniqueness is built in as the bike is produced and each one will be as individual as its owner.

“The first photos show just two different possibilities of specification for the bike, but the combinations are nearly endless, and we plan to continue to add further options in the future.”

To power the Ace, Ariel expanded its relationship with Honda, sourcing the 1237cc V-Four found on Honda’s VFR1200. (The Atom is built around a Honda Type R engine.) The British marque has done some tweaking to the mill, however, adding its own fuel mapping and intake system. The shaft drive remains and customers will be able to choose from the VFR’s Dual Clutch or manual transmission options.

The aluminum frame is constructed from six billet pieces, welded together and anodized, with different color finishes available. The frame accommodates the Ace’s variations of subframe, fuel tank, body and suspension options. The frame comes with interchangeable bearing holders that allow the rake to be adjusted between 21.8 and 28.4 degrees.

In the suspension department, Ariel designed an aluminum girder fork that utilizes a three-way adjustable Ohlins TTX unit to soak-up bumps. For a more conventional look and feel, customers can opt for the traditional Ohlins telescopic forks, which have been designed specifically for the Ace. Out back is a single-sided aluminum swingarm and monoshock, with fully-adjustable Ohlins kit offered as an option. Nissin brakes, (320mm disc with six-piston calipers at the front, 276mm disc with two-piston caliper at the back) come standard. Brembo upgrades are planned to be available once production starts as well. All Ace versions will come equipped with ABS and adjustable traction control.

Ariel reinstated its relationship with Dunlop, as the two worked together in the earliest days when the company manufactured bicycles, and all Ace motorcycles will come with Dunlop rubber.

Bodywork is interchangeable, with various finishes, materials and color schemes available for pieces ranging from the tank to the radiator covers. Three seat options will be available; the low seat with removable pillion, a dual seat and a sport seat. Customers will also choose between three different footrest positions and a variety of handlebar heights and styles (clip-ons for telescopic forks, for example). Race Technologies developed the LCD dash and Honda’s Ignition Security System is included with a key activated steering lock.

“The many combinations of components made the design phase particularly difficult as we had to ensure that any Ace works as a coherent whole,” explained Sanders. “Motorcyclists have a deep understanding of their machines and will appreciate the design, engineering and particular manufacturing techniques that have gone into the Ace. To us a machined from billet component or a piece of carbon fiber is a beautiful thing, and I know that bikers feel the same way.”

Production is planned to start at the beginning of 2015. Check out Ariel Motor Company’s website for more information.