Ariel Motorcycles - Square Four Super Sports Leader HT5
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Ariel Motor Cycles bore a proud and famous name, having built its first motorcycle as early as 1902. With machines like the Red Hunter and Square Four, Ariel earned the reputation for marketing a range of ruggedly reliable and well-produced products aimed at fulfilling the needs of the public. Later, the revolutionary Leader and Arrow vertical twin two-strokes could really have provided a machine to take on the Japanese. This guide details six classic Ariel motorcycles from the post-war period.
Ariel Square Four
The Ariel Square Four motorbike was a legend in its own lifetime and continues to be so. First marketed as a 500cc in 1930, the 1000cc model was launched in 1936. It remained in production in various roadster forms until the late 1950s by which time it boasted four individual exhaust pipe ports and an all-aluminium engine. The "Squariel" appealed to the middle-aged man, who having a motor bike in his youth, wanted to return to the fold with something that would distinguish him from the crowd.
Ariel Red Hunter
Based on a 1933 Val Page design, the Red Hunter was sold in 348cc and 500cc form throughout the 1930s, scoring many successes in trials and scrambles. Resurrected after the war virtually unchanged save for telescopic forks, it became renowned as a straight-forward and dependable machine capable of a surprising amount of unstressed power. The 500 with its more "square" dimensioned engine than the 350 and a frame that was no heavier, was proportionally the better performer.
Ariel FH Huntmaster
The Ariel Huntmaster 650cc twin was introduced for 1954 with BSA engine in the new Ariel frame and finish. The BSA motor may have been the beginning of the erosion of marque identity, but Bert Hopwood's already reliable single-cam 650 A10 engine, only superficially modified, combined with the Ariel duplex frame, and Ariel standards of finish, produced a well loved machine. A claimed 35bhp @ 5600rpm gave the FH a top speed of around 100mph and for a 410lb machine the economy was good too, returning as high as 70mpg solo and 55mpg with a chair attached.
Announced in July 1958 the Ariel Leader was a sensation. It offered a 250cc twin engine, full enclosure, built-in legshields and screen, pressed steel beam frame and many unique features. A whole range of accessories were offered and a choice of two-tone finishes were listed. The Leader was built between 1958 and 1965 and despite its unusual style became a common sight on the roads as weather-protection and the absence of road-dirt were real-life attributes. The price new in late 1958 was £209-11s-2d.
Ariel Super Sports
The Ariel Arrow arrived in 1960 as an unfaired alternative to the Leader and shortly afterwards the Arrow Super Sports was announced, giving the company a stable of three two-stroke twins. Immediately christened "The Golden Arrow" due to its handsome finish in polychromatic gold, the new machine was not just a new grooming, as the power was raised by the fitting of a large bore carburettor, now 20bhp at 6,600rpm. On test the top speed was 75mph and acceleration was very brisk up to 60mph. As popular as the Leader and Arrow, the Super Sports won the prestigious Motor Cycle News "Machine of the year" award in 1961.
The Ariel HT5 motor bike was made famous by the great trials rider Sammy Miller, whose first association with Ariel started in 1956 at The Scottish Six Days Trial. Unable to obtain the necessary gearbox parts for his James trails machine, Miller borrowed an Ariel for the event, GOV 132 a registration number that was to become well known, and began a long association with the Selly Oak and later Smallheath firm.