Ariel motorcycle was founded by Charles Sangster in 1902, but like many other motorcycles manufacturers of their time they had started making bicycles for almost 50 years prior to their 1902 motorcycle debut.
Ariel was a pioneer in the British motorcycle industry, when they produced not only motorcycles, but quads and three wheelers as far back as 1890. The first Ariel motorcycle was not released until 1903 but was soon replaced in 1904 by a new design due to possible issues with the 1903 engine.
By mid 1908, Ariel had released a lightweight 2 1/2 horsepower motorcycle. By this time, the Ariel motorcycle was still only a bicycle frame with a Kerry engine.
By 1910, the Ariel motorcycle had increased their horsepower to 3 1/2 horsepower, and finally started looking like the motorcycles we know today. This motorcycle also included a patented designed variable speed gear with a free engine.
Many early model Ariels are still in existence in the UK today. A 1904 model was found by Tony Twycross, and was road tested and found to be in perfect working order after receiving a slight restoration.
Ariels early years featured a number of different engine ranging from, White and Poppe, through MAG and JAP, as well a Blackburne engines.
With Ariel dating back as far as 1847, when they made air filled tyres for horse drawn carriages followed by their invention of the wire-spoke wheel allowing the production of lighter bicycles, thus forming the original Ariel Bicycle company.
Their 1885 invention of the Rover Safety Bicycle, allowed them to start producing rear wheel, chain driven bicycles, along with sewing machines and Penny-Farthing bicycles.
The name Ariel lapsed in 1896, and when it returned, it was a motorcycle manufacturer.
Ariel also produced cars from 1900 to 1915 and also from 1922 to 1925. The first being a 10 horsepower two cylinder followed by a 16 horsepower four cylinder. In 1904 Ariel had also produced a six cylinder.
By 1905 Ariel was competing against Mercedes with their 40 horsepower six cylinder. The war all but put an end to Ariel's car production and they swiftly returned to motorcycles.
By 1967, Ariel had ceased production of their motorcycles and closed their doors.
In 1970 BSA attempted to bring back the Ariel name in a three wheeler but the design was short lived and simply disappeared with the Ariel name badge in to the chronicles of British Motorcycle history.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 02/06/2008