Ariel Leader

Ariel Leader review

The Ariel Leader was probably Ariels bravest foray into motorcycle manufacturing. It was an innovate, fully enclosed 250cc two-stroke released in 1959. Producing peak output of 18bhp, with the twin-cylinder engine based on that of the German Adler. The leader was intended to be a proper motorcycle with the convenience of a scooter.

Ariel Leader

The Leader actually worked rather well, with a top speed of about 70mph and excellent handling. But the public didn`t take well to it. Ariel later striped the bodywork to produce the Arrow, with a tuned 20bhp engine in the Super Sports and Golden Arrow variants. Although the Arrow sold well it wasn`t enough to stop Ariel from going under in 1967.

Ariel Leader

If the Japanese launched the Ariel Leader today, with a modern 4-stroke engine, it would be considered to be a stunningly creative and radical design. In 1954, when Ariels Chief Designer Val Page was drawing the Leader, the bike was almost science fiction. The neat, 250cc two-stroke engine was hung from a rigid beam frame made from two simple pressings. Cheap and easy to make, it gave excellent handling and also contained the fuel tank which was then in the optimum position for sweet handling. Although a gifted free-thinker, Page was an eminently practical designer. Therefore the trailing link front forks were on the Leader not for effect but because they provided low tyre wear and predictable handling. Like the fully enclosed chain case, and elegant built in fairing. For its time, the inclined two-stroke engine was a masterpiece of efficiency. At 70mph, top speed was comparable with 250cc sports bikes of the day whilst fuel consumption was miserly. But best of all, a Leader felt like an elegant, sophisticated ride and several worlds away from the dull, porcine products being offered by Ariels owners, BSA, and the even more turgid 250s sold by Matchless.

The final cherry on the cake was that the Leader enjoyed the lowest warranty claims of any BSA group product. It was a simple bike to build and, with the most cursory maintenance, would run forever. The new engine fitted the Leader like a glove and now Ariel had a true super tourer which would have captured a huge amount of BMW sales. But a cash strapped government canceled the new military bike and with it died Pages engine and what could have been a truly revolutionary bike. More specs and user manual of Ariel Leader you can see in next overview.

Ariel Leader
retro touring

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