All Sections

Ariel eyes up two-wheeled glory with Ace in the hole

Ariel out to shake up motorbikes with the 173bhp Ace superbike.

Somerset is known for its array of tasty ciders, cheeses, farm animals and – in recent years – an insanely fast car known as the Ariel Atom. Now we are happy to add an insanely fast motorbike to the list, as the Crewkerne-based outfit has just shown off the two-wheeled Ace.

Jumping from bikes to cars would usually have us concerned, as the two disciplines are like chalk and cheese. Or like Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini. But Ariel and its 19 staff gave the world something that accelerated faster than just about any production car. Then it thought, “why not stick on a V8” – and so it did. Most recently it gave us the 3.5R, a new model that can go from 0 to 62mph in 2.5 seconds.

It is a little known fact Ariel has been welding engines to bikes since 1870 so this is not an entirely new venture, although Ariel Motor Company was revived in 1999 by biking fan Simon Saunders, having gone bust in 1970.

History lesson over. The Ariel Ace has the same body as the Atom. Specifically, the complete lack of. The engine, suspension and just about every working part is on display, saving weight and giving it a unique look, particularly from the side where you can see the beautiful curved skeleton that holds it all together. If there is ever a case for less being more, this is it.

Power comes from Honda, which makes sense given the Atom uses a Honda engine. Sadly, there’s no 2.0-litre engine here, but the 1,237cc V4 kicks out a hefty 173bhp. Those with no fear will top out at 165mph and hit 0 to 62mph in 3.4 seconds ─ assuming they can keep from being launched off the back. Hardly Hayabusa territory, but still seriously dangerous.

Customisation is prominent. You can specify lightweight carbon fibre wheels, different front and rear suspension setups, different exhausts and even the size of the fuel tank, in case you really want to keep the weight down or give yourself a bigger range. Paintjob and finish can also be tailored how you want, if you are happy to pay extra for the privilege.

How well the Ariel Ace will do against established brutes like Ducati, Honda and Suzuki remains to be seen. Given how impressive the Ariel Atom was, we have high hopes it can topple a giant or two. If not, a V8 version can’t be far off.

The Ariel Ace will go on sale in early 2015. Just 100 to 150 will be produced every year so you best get on the phone to Somerset now or risk a lengthy waiting list. Prices are expected to start from £20,000 before any customisation.

Ariel Ace pictures