Ariel has used the home turf of the NEC Motorcycle Live show to reveal plans to build 10 very special versions of the only motorcycle it produces. Powered by Honda's V4 engine of the VFR1200F, the Ace gets a posh R-variant with even more exclusive equipment and a copious power boost.
With a history of motorcycle manufacturing since 1902, Ariel Motorcycles created several memorable models in its heyday before being absorbed by the BSA Group in 1951 and ceasing operations in 1967. The brand was revived by Simon Saunders in 1999 as Ariel Motor Company, and initiated its second life with an innovative sports car, the Atom.
The first and only motorcycle of Ariel's modern era came about in 2014, in the beautiful shape of the Ace. Continuing the tradition of borrowing Honda engines (the Civic Type-R unit powers most versions of the Atom) the Ace runs on the V4 powerplant from the VFR1200F. The boutique brand has hand-built around 50 Ace motorcycles in two years, offering ample choices for personalization to its customers – including a set of aluminum girder forks.
In order to make the Ace R truly unique, Ariel went much further than just the addition of special gear and bespoke paint jobs. The typical goodies of R include strictly carbon fiber bodywork and wheels, a set of Öhlins suspensions with the front specifically resprung for the occasion, and several bits in gold anodizing. The in-house built aluminum frame has undergone a weight-shaving process and graces the Ace R hand-anodized in black pearl finish.
And then there's the motor. The 1200 cc V-four engine has been modified enough to jump from the stock 173 to 201 hp (129 to 150 kW), with the torque also climbing from 131 to 143 Nm (96.6 to 105.5 lb-ft). This process involved a lot of work on the cylinder heads, new camshafts, and several lighter moving parts. All this extra power in a motorcycle that, according to Ariel, is expected to be significantly lighter than the standard model, translates to a top speed hike from 165 to 185 mph (265 to 298 km/h).
Production of the Ace R will take place at Ariel's facility in Somerset, UK, with the first bikes expected to start shipping in the second quarter of 2017. Only 10 numbered examples will ever be made, starting at a pretty steep £49,995 (US$62,500) – almost double the average cost of a standard Ace.