ITS SUPER-LIGHT, and lightning-quick, Atom sports car has often been compared to a motorcycle, so Ariel is doing the natural thing and building one.
Called the Ace, the new bike takes the brand, originally founded in 1902, back to its motorcycle roots and the famous, though flawed, Ariel Square Four motorbike.
Ariel eventually closed in 1970 but its name resurfaced in 1999 with the formation of Ariel Ltd. Today the company makes the Ariel Atom sports car recently chosen by one police force to teach motorcyclists safer riding, and about which Jeremy Clarkson said: “I have never driven anything that accelerates so fast!”.
Now the firm is branching out into motorcycle production with a radical new machine that will be built in low numbers, and to each customer’s requirements.
Powered by a 1,237cc V4 engine from a Honda motorcycle, which can launch the bike from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds, only 100 to 150 Aces will be made each year alongside the Atom sports car at Ariel’s factory in Crewkerne, Somerset. Unlike most modern bikes, which have a hidden tubular steel or alloy frame largely hidden from view, the Ace has what the company calls an “exterior perimeter space frame” that is more visible and which echoes the design of the Atom.
Key to the new machine’s appeal, says the company, is the possibility of designing and making each bike to the customer’s precise requirements. While most motorcyles are produced in a single version such as a cruiser or a tourer, the Ace can be produced in a variety of different styles according to the customer’s taste. This means the Ace can be made in forms ranging from a low-riding cruiser to a super sports.
Explaining the company’s approach, Simon Saunders, the director of Ariel, said: “Motorcyclists have a real passion for their machines. 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 combinations with the Ace are nearly endless.”
Such personalisation comes at a price, however, with the Ace starting at £20,000. Production begins in early 2015.