1952 Ariel Square Four

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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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The 1952 Ariel Square Four centerstand takes some getting used to.
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Compact and easy to ride, the 1952 Ariel Square Four is still a good road machine.
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1952 Ariel Square Four.
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A period drawing details the internal arrangement of the engine on the 1952 Ariel Square Four.
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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.

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

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