1952 Ariel Square Four

Penned by Triumph legend Edward Turner, the Ariel Square Four was the smoothest British motorcycle of all time

| March/April 2006

  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • The 1952 Ariel Square Four centerstand takes some getting used to
    The 1952 Ariel Square Four centerstand takes some getting used to.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • Compact and easy to ride, the 1952 Ariel Square Four is still a good road machine
    Compact and easy to ride, the 1952 Ariel Square Four is still a good road machine.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
    1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • A period drawing details the internal arrangement of the engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four
    A period drawing details the internal arrangement of the engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four.
    Photo by Roland Brown
  • The four-cylinder engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four looks much like a parallel twin
    The four-cylinder engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four looks much like a parallel twin, the dual exhaust obscuring the fact the two more cylinders sit behind the forward pair. The design's biggest drawback was insufficient cooling for the rear cylinders.
    Photo by Roland Brown

  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • The 1952 Ariel Square Four centerstand takes some getting used to
  • Compact and easy to ride, the 1952 Ariel Square Four is still a good road machine
  • 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • A period drawing details the internal arrangement of the engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four
  • The four-cylinder engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four looks much like a parallel twin

Ariel Square Four

Years produced: 1948-52 (Mk1)
Total production: 1,211
Claimed power: 34bhp @ 5,400rpm
Top speed: 100mph (est.)
Engine type: Overhead valve, air-cooled square four
Weight: 197kg (433lb)
Price then: $658 (1952)
Price now: $5,000-$9,500
MPG: 40-55

It's all so effortless that I can barely believe the bike I'm riding is half a century old. On the open road, the 1952 Ariel Square Four is at home in modern traffic in a way that most classic British motorcycles cannot approach. It purrs along smoothly at 60mph, accelerates briskly out of roundabouts with barely a need to use its slick gearbox, and feels more up-to-date and sophisticated than many bikes half its age.

Admittedly, this image of contentment is upset on occasions, notably when the feeble brakes are needed urgently, or when the bike runs out of ground clearance with a loud clunk even at modest angles of lean. But most of the time, riding this 1952 Ariel Square Four is a reminder that even in days long-ago, the British motorcycle industry was capable of building machines that could deliver good performance and comfort with a genuinely refined feel.

Squaring with history

The Ariel Square Four was one of the most glamorous and best known British motorcycles. In production for 27 years, it was a mainstay in Ariel's line of motorcycles.



Its story begins almost 80 years ago when, legend has it, a young engineer named Edward Turner — later to find fame as boss of Triumph — sketched a "square four" engined motorcycle on the back of a cigarette pack. Turner offered his design to a string of motorcycle manufacturers before being hired by Ariel in 1928.

Turner's innovative design featured chain-driven single overhead camshafts, and was effectively two parallel-twin engines with their crankshafts geared together and turning in opposite directions. This had the advantage of being not only very well-balanced but also compact, which allowed the original 497cc engine to be fitted to a slightly modified Ariel single-cylinder chassis, saving the firm from Selly Oak in Birmingham both money and development time.

amt
10/28/2013 9:52:46 AM

i have a ariel bike of 350cc, 1952 model, but its engine is not in assembled condition and some parts are missing also.How and where shall I obtain the maintenance of my bike in N. Delhi, India


amt
10/28/2013 9:41:03 AM

i have a ariel bike of 350cc, 1952 model, but its engine is not in assembled condition and some parts are missing also.How and where shall I obtain the maintenance of my bike in N. Delhi, India




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