Post-War Ariel Singles and Twins




With the obvious exception of the Square Four and, somewhat later, the two-strokes, post-war Ariels didn't exhibit much in the way of innovation or unique features. They were very similar in layout and even in detail to several other contemporary singles and twins that were on the market at the time. BSA, AJS/Matchless, Panther, Norton and Royal Enfield all made big singles or parallel twins in much the same mould as Ariel's four-stroke singles and twins. Ariels were in no way radical and differed only in detail of execution. You could even call them conservative.

However, they had a few small but unique features that set them apart. The oil bath primary chain, in combination with a simple but effective dry clutch was certainly unusual and had its advantages. Being able to fettle the clutch without draining the oil from the primary chain case was handy. The centre-stand on the swinging arm models is one of the best centre-stands that ever appeared on a British bike. The high level of interchangeability of components across the range was convenient from a production perspective but offered little benefit to the average owner.


Even so, Ariels do have a special appeal. Whether that is is to do with their style and appearance or their undoubted reliability is hard to say. In the case of the singles, they offer considerable scope for effective performance tuning and that may also be an attraction for some people. For others, their simplicity and robustness may be the trigger. Even in standard trim, their performance was brisk compared to the competition.

Classic bike enthusiasts either like Ariels or they don't. Those that like them seem to like them a lot, often owning several. Others find them staid and boring – bikes for old men.