Ariel Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Ariel Leader

Ariel Leader

Ariel Leader twin-cylinder, two-stroke, built from 1958 to 1965.

The Ariel Leader was designed by Val Page and Bernard Knight to provide a new level of technical refinement and weather protection, and was first produced in July 1958. Its design had the unusual feature of having a pressed metal frame and enclosed bodywork which concealed the engine, a very uncommon styling for post-war British motorcycles. In 1959 all other Ariel models including the Square Four were dropped, and that year the Leader gained acclaim winning Motorcycle of the Year in 'Motorcycle News'.

A 349cc Arrow four-stroke twin prototype was built in 1960, with an inclined engine designed by Val Page. Financial constraints hampered development and the project was not completed.

In 1964 the Ariel Arrow 200 was released with a smaller capacity of 200cc, with the bore reduced from 54mm to 48.5mm with the same stroke. This machine gained the advantage of lower road tax and rider insurance.

Nonetheless, the aesthetic design did not prove popular and in 1960 the Ariel Arrow was released. The Arrow was almost exactly the same as the Leader but with a 'naked' engine. In the 1960s all British motorcycle and scooter manufacturers were finding it difficult to compete with the Japanese imports and in 1965 BSA, Ariel's parent company, decided to cease production of all Ariel motorcycles.

After the Ariel factory closure, the Arrow 200 was produced for a time by BSA.

Sources: Science Museum Group CC BY 4.0;

Ariel Leader Gallery