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Introducing the Ariel Ace: the Modular Honda VFR1200-Engined Motorcycle

Wed, 25 Jun 2014

British brand Ariel, best known for its high-performance Atom sports car, has revealed a new modular motorcycle platform based around the Honda VFR1200F’s V-4 engine. Dubbed the Ariel Ace, the new motorcycle will be produced in low volumes but can be configured in a number of ways to customers’ specifications to create a unique motorcycle with the ergonomics they want.

“Motorcyclists have a real passion for their machines. They like them to be individual and they want them to be their bike, not just another bike identical to hundreds or thousands of others,” says Simon Saunders, director of Ariel. “The usual route is to buy a standard bike and then add various aftermarket components to change the bike into what they want. However with the Ace, the uniqueness is built in as the bike is produced, and each one will be as individual as the owner.”

Holding it all together is a aluminum frame made of six individual billet sections and taking more than 70 hours to machine, let alone weld together. Each frame is anodized and can be finished in a color of the customer’s choosing. The suit the modular design concept, the frame has several mounting points to attach various parts, and the steering head angle can be changed using eccentric bearing holders, offering a range of rake angles from 21.8 degrees to 28.4 degrees (Ariel uses 25.1 degrees as its standard rake angle).

Just as the Atom is powered by a Civic Type-R engine, Ariel turned to Honda for the Ace’s powerplant. Ariel claims an output of 171 hp and 95 ft-lb. from the 1237cc 76-degree V-4 engine. Ariel claims a top speed of 165 mph with a 0-60 time of 3.4 seconds. The Ace uses a ride-by-wire throttle system with a custom fuel mapping Ariel says offers progressive and responsive power delivery across the rev range. Using the VFR1200F’s engine also allows Ariel to offer the Ace with Honda’s dual clutch transmission system.

Ariel offers two types of front suspension. The upside-down fork option is supplied by Ohlins, with adjustable rebound, compression and spring tuning. The other option is a custom girder front end. Made from machined aluminum, the girder fork equipped with an Ohlins TTX damper. Ariel claims the girder fork offers less stiction and improved response compared to a conventional telescopic fork. Ohlins also supplies the rear suspension system.

The Nissin braking system is comprised of dual 320mm discs up front with six-piston calipers while a two-piston caliper is paired with a 276mm disc at the rear. Ariel says it is working on offering Brembo brakes as an option. The company is also in discussions with Goodridge to offer optional kevlar brake and clutch lines. ABS and traction control are standard equipment.

Three different fuel tanks are available, ranging from 3.7 gallons to 5.6 gallons in capacity. Ariel also offers a choice of different fenders, radiator covers, belly pans and screens, all available in a choice of either a composite material or carbon fiber.

The three seat options include a single seat with removable pillion, a dual seat or a solo sports seat. The single seat with removable passenger seating offers the lowest height at 29.3 inches from the ground. The dual seat is higher (Ariel doesn’t say exactly how high). Both two-seat options come with pillion pegs that fold up when no in use with the pull of a knob. The solo seat option offers the highest seat height and offers a different padding material as well as carbon fiber trim.

The Ariel Ace comes with a choice of three different foot control positions for low, mid or high mounting points. Foot levers and pegs are made of machined aluminum with a choice of anodized finishes. From each mounting position, foot levers can be further customized with a different reach and height.

Various handlebar options offer different heights and finishes, while clip-ons are available for a sportier riding position. The LCD display is the same as the one used on the Atom with readouts for speed, engine speed, oil pressure, water temperature, voltage, ambient temperature, fuel and warning lights for low fuel level, ABS, and traction control. Ariel also offers an optional data logger with an SD card reader.

Ariel offers five or seven spoke alloy wheels or a choice of carbon or aluminum wheels from BST. Ariel will offer a selection of tire options from Dunlop.

Pricing details have not been announced, but we can expect even the least expensive options to cost a pretty penny.


By Dennis Chung

See also: 2014 WSBK Misano Results, 2014 AMA Superbike – Barber Results, 2015 Honda CB300F Gets CARB Approval.