A winter test

of the

497 c.c. Ariel

The winter is not the pleasantest time of year in which to motorcycle but it has an advantage for anyone carrying out a road test in that the good and poor qualities of a machine are more easily revealed when climatic conditions are bad.

If a machine has a tendency to slide, if it is given to mud slinging, or is obstinate to start, the rain, mud and low temperature, such as we have had to endure during the past few weeks, will soon show up these traits. On the other hand any marked improvement above the average in regard to steadiness, comfort and cleanliness is at once noticeable.

That is why we rather welcomed the recent meteorological ” mixed grill ” while carrying out a road test of the 497 c.c. O.H.V. Ariel combination.

In appearance the Ariel is a solid job and its performance and ” feel ” thoroughly confirm this impression. Frame, engine, gear box and general fittings all have that quality of robustness which make a tout ensemble capable of standing up to the toughest of collar work and roughest going and in spite of the very moderate price of the machine one finds evidence of the desire on the part of the designer to incorporate modern ideas throughout.

Take, for example, the engine. The overhead valve gear which is carried on particularly substantial supports is lubricated by grease gun through extra large nipples. And the push rods and tappets are all enclosed— a feature which contributes to an absence of clatter as well as helping to prolong the life of these highly-stressed parts. The oiling system is of the dry sump type, the reservoir being situated on the saddle tube and a commendable point is the neat arrangement of the supply and return pipes connecting the pump and tank ; a minimum of bends and the accessibility of the union nuts at once find favour with the practical rider. The oil gauge is situated neatly in the top of the tank.

Another good point is the ribbing of the lower half of the crankcase, which in conjunction with the careful design of the cooling fins of the cylinder, undoubtedly contribute to the markedly cool running of the engine under all conditions. An excellent tick-over is another characteristic of the power unit which together with the smooth and lightly-operated clutch, was much appreciated by us during the several days spent in riding in London traffic.

Out on the open road we found the Ariel outfit capable of a maximum speed which would satisfy all normal demands and on long runs the riding position was found to be restful and allowed of easy control without strain. It was in rough going, however, that the machine impressed us most. Over contours and surfaces of the Camberley calibre, the engine slogged away apparently revelling in its task and the stability and robustness of the whole machine was most reassuring.

In regard to criticism, we found little with which we could find fault. The brakes were excellent, starting was good and mudguards somewhat above the average. One feature on the machine which should be modified, we think, is the fish-tail of the silencers. As now arranged, the rider is liable to jab his legs against them when lifting the machine on to the stand, with painful results. Then in connection with the sidecar, while this was quite comfortable and roomy, we found the door rather awkward to open and close. A general stiffening up of the near-side panel would seem necessary. Otherwise we found the Ariel a very sound, and pleasant motorcycle.


ENGINE: 81.8 mm. x 95 mm. (497 c.c.) Ariel Single-cylinder, with overhead valves and enclosed rockers and push-rods.

TRANSMISSION : Chain ½in. 0.305in. front. ⅝ x ⅜ in. rear.

LUBRICATION : Ariel dry sump system with pressure feed to the big end.

GEARBOX : Burman three-speed. Ratios 4.75, 7.6 and 13 to 1.

CARBURETTER : Amal two-lever with twist-grip throttle control.

BRAKES : Internal expanding, 7in. front and rear.

TYRES: 26in. x 3.25in.

WEIGHT (in touring trim) : 370 lb.

PRICE (with lighting equipment, electric horn and speedometer) : £59 17s. 6d.

MAKER : Ariel Works, Ltd., Selly Oak, Birmingham.