The very latest update from Ariel on their new bike: the facts …
UPDATED DEC 31 2012
It’s now almost a year since we broke official confirmation of the Ariel V4 1200 spec, and eighteen months since our Simon Saunders interview, and we’ve still haven’t received our promised invite to pop over and saddle up the mule. Then again, neither has anyone else, although a number of local bikers claim to have seen the fabled beast in test action.
Saunders wisely chose not to put an official timeframe on the project but did have a provisional template, which subsequently turned out to be optimistic – to say the least. We heard rumours of project staffing issues and related comings and goings, but one thing Saunders is very good at is staying schtum. In many ways he is the polar opposite to Stewart Garner at Norton, who has a tendency to trumpet product before it actually exists (the ‘GP bike’ being a case in point).
So what is actually going on? We’re going to find out early in the New Year, so watch this space.
Last year we took a look at the new Ariel bike project and interviewed MD Simon Saunders. We were able to build a reasonably accurate picture of the project’s direction and Simon has updated us with the following details. Although some of this stuff has been the subject of speculation, we can now confirm some important spec details.
- HONDA VFR 1200 engine now confirmed.
Bespoke Ariel mapping, exclusive exhaust and inlet system.
- MODULAR DESIGN – fully adjustable ride parameters.
As predicted, modularity goes beyond standard adjustments allowing the customer a range of set up options.
- MANUAL GEARBOX WITH DSG OPTION
- ABS and TC
- ARIEL FRAME DESIGN
It’s clear from all this that apart from fresh mapping to accommodate the Ariel exhaust and inlet systems, the electronics pack is Honda – the VFR 1200 and Crosstourer share the same lump and electronic options. So the key remaining question is whether the finished Ariel will be closer to the former or the latter….
The answer to which is both, since the modular approach would allow the customer to specify a more sporty or adventure orientated set up. That is the pay off from Saunders’ decision to create Ariel’s own frame, which has been designed with modularity.
It says a great deal about Honda’s relationship with Ariel that Honda have not only permitted use of one of their engines – in itself a rare enough occurence – but sanctioned the latest incarnation of their flagship V4. Honda are keen to establish the 1200’s reputation, since its reception has been less than overwhelming – although it must be stressed that had far more to do with indifference to the bike it was housed in, rather than a critic of the new V4 mill itself. Rumours still persist of a V4 Fireblade, based on a 12oo derivative. All of this tells us that Honda must hold Ariel in high regard, which is a refreshing thought, given the wildly different scale and approach of the two companies. Given that it was always going to be Honda powered, we’re hapy that the V4 has been chosen – it is still the most emblematic Honda design, and makes the new Ariel a far more interesting proposition than would have been the case with an IL4.
Mules are expected to be roving the Somerset levels in the near future, and we might just get the chance to saddle up. Watch this space.