Atom, meet the Ace. Ariel has gone back to its roots, ditched two wheels and come up with its first motorbike for 55 years to sit alongside its sports car.
The Ace makes its debut this weekend at the Festival of Speed – and how appropriate is that given the cars-to-bikes theme is already in overdrive with the FoS celebrations in honour of two/four-wheel world champ, John Surtees?
So what’s the Ace like? So far we have only Ariel’s word to go on, but first info suggests a very welcome addition to the bike world with enough USPs – including a very sexy, Atom-like aluminium spaceframe and highly customisable nature – to make it worthy of Ariel’s innovative past – it was after all the company that invented the wheel (well, the spoked wheel, anyhow).
The facts: Honda power (like the Atom of course) of 173bhp and 95ft lb of torque, top speed 165mph, 0-60mph in 3.4sec, low volume (100-150 a year), loads of options so each one is unique, and a price of £20,000 (plus options) when the first ones roll out of the Crewkerne factory next year.
Ariel began making pedal cycles in 1870 but,to a pre-Atom generation at least, is best known for motorbikes such as the Ariel Square 4 and like that machine the Ace uses a four-cylinder engine, the 1237cc V4 VFR unit from Honda. Ariel say the performance on offer aims to be ‘comfortable and consistently attainable’ by the average rider. Ariel boss Simon Saunders told us: ‘We looked at a super lightweight race bike but they are already out there and so far beyond the abilities of most riders that we took the decision to produce a really fast bike that was easy to ride.’
Transmission on the shaft-drive bike is a choice of six-speed sequential manual or the DCT dual clutch unit that gives a choice of manual changes in sport mode or fully automatic shifts.
The bike’s visual signature is its load-bearing aluminium frame, so reminiscent of the Atom’s exposed tubing. For the Ace it is machined from solid billet and the six sections welded together to carry the engine, seat, front and rear suspension as well as providing a safety cell for the fuel tank. Ariel says a key benefit of the frame is its exceptional rigidity. The frame is anodised and available in different colours.
The transmission choice, like a lot more besides about this new bike, allows the Ace to be different things to different people, says Ariel. With owners able to spec up their Ace for suspension, seat height, pillion options, tank size, wheels, exhaust, bodywork, finishes and materials, each Ace will be unique claims the firm – from automatic cruiser to naked, to manual super sports. Adjustable footrests, brake and gear lever, plus different seat height and handlebar configurations, mean each bike can be tailored to fit each rider whatever their size or riding preference.
Saunders adds that the highly bespoke nature of the Ace – even the engine head angles can be adjusted, via interchangeable eccentric bearing holders, to achieve neutral handling – has never been done to this level on a production machine before.
Not surprisingly, each Ace will be hand-built by one Ariel technician in an individual build bay in just the same way the Atom is built. Because each Ace is so customisable it can be returned for upgrades or be reconfigured for different uses.
In short, most definitely one to have a close look at when the Ace make sits debut at FoS at the weekend. Now, what about an Atom vs an Ace race up the hillclimb Ariel…?