This is an Ariel Ace. It’s a crazy device, with a frame and forks hewn from solid alloy, bodywork bits in hand laid carbon fibre and a massive leather saddle that’d make sense to The Lone Ranger. It looks amazing, sounds brutal and rides like nothing else. We like it a lot.
Ariel made their first motorcycle in 1902 and, although there is no direct link between the current company and the original, that heritage is part of the appeal. The romance of the old British brands and of a bike that is ‘Made in England’ is compelling. The current healthy state of the UK’s bike industry, from CCM’s crazy custom singles to Triumph’s brilliant Street Triple deserves celebration.
But the British industry doesn’t exist in isolation. The Ariel’s ignition key carries a Honda logo. Initially that’s a bit disappointing, and not just because it doesn’t feature a Star Trek inspired finger print recognition device. It’s disappointing because surely the key for a £28,000 British bike shouldn’t look and feel the same as that used on a Japanese scooter.*
But other emotions follow. Honda key = Honda electrics plus Honda engine and transmission, and the comforting sense that this thing isn’t going to shake itself to bits or leave you stranded.
A Honda key also symbolises that making motorcycles in 2019 requires global input. The Ariel has Honda running gear, the CCM uses a foreign engine, Norton are doing business with the Chinese, the Triumph Speed Triple may or may not have been made in Thailand and Royal Enfield’s are made in India, albeit developed in Leicestershire.
So what’s a British bike? Well, I’m not 100% sure, but I know I like them.
Enjoy the issue.
*Actually the new Honda Cub has keyless ignition.
Hugo Wilson, Editor