1929 Ariel Model A

Ariel is one of the oldest names in British motorcycle history. In 1898 the company was building De Dion engined tricycles and quadricycles and four years later began to manufacture motorcycles fitted with proprietary engines, initially the 3.5hp  single-cylinder White & Poppe, and later Blackburne and MAG with single and V-twin engines as large as 992cc. This continued until

In 1927, under the ownership of Charles and Jack Sangster, a design department under Val Page was established to introduce a new range of machines, commencing with single-cylinder machines of 498cc (overhead-valve) and 557cc (side-valve) capacity which proved to be best sellers.

The 1929 Ariel range consisted of six models, split between sv. and ohv. engined models. New features included dry sump lubrication with a separate oil tank, and double roller bearing big ends together with a host of minor changes. In 1931 Ariel introduced the first of their famous Square Four machines, with four air-cooled cylinders in ‘square’ formation (of course!) with 498cc and overhead valves operated by a chain-driven camshaft. Post 1945 – the company by then owned by BSA – machines were primarily the Red Hunter singles and the Square Four which grew to 996cc.

Ariel’s final machines were the innovative 247cc two-stroke twins of 1958 designed by Val Page; the Leader, with all-enveloping bodywork around a pressed steel frame, and the stripped-down Arrow which was also later available with a 197cc motor. The 49cc Ariel 3 ‘trike’ with hinged frame of 1970  became the Honda Gyro, the Ariel company ceasing production in the same year.


This Ariel motorcycle was used for vintage trialling in the 1960s-1970s and was purchased by a member of the Collection’s staff in the 1980s. It is currently on loan.


Manufacturer: Ariel Motorcycles, Birmingham, England
Model: A
Engine: Single cylinder, 557cc side-valve
Top Speed: 55 mph
Price new: £44



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