Hip to be Square: 1959 Ariel Square Four MKII

Recalling burning helmets and rubber, Jim Balestrieri seizes his dream of restoring several mid-century Ariels, including a 1959 Ariel Square Four.


1959 Ariel Square Four MKII
Engine: 997cc air-cooled OHV “square” four, 65mm x 75mm bore and stroke, 7.2:1 compression ratio,42hp @ 5,500rpm (claimed)
Top speed (approx.): 105mph
Carburetion: Single SU, variable choke
Transmission: 4-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 6v, coil and breaker points distributor ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Single downtube steel cradle/56in (1,422mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front, plunger rear
Brakes: 7in (178mm) SLS drum front, 8in (203mm) SLS drum rear
Tires: 3.25 x 19in front, 4 x 18in rear
Weight (wet): 435lb (197kg)
Seat height: 31in (787mm)
Fuel capacity: 6gal (22.7ltr)
Price then/now: $950 (est.)/$12,000-$33,000

Back in the free spirit heyday of the 1960s and 1970s referring to something as “square” was a put-down. Square was a term used to denigrate the straight-edged conformist establishment, and if you were labeled square you certainly weren’t “with it.”

When Wisconsin adopted a helmet law in 1968 many didn’t appreciate being told by those in power what they could and could not do. One of them was Bill Schertzl of Eagle River, Wisconsin. Bill was a long-haired free-spirited individual, and together with several of his like-minded friends, they protested the law. Eventually, on March 3, 1978, the Wisconsin helmet law was repealed and it was declared that only those under the age of 17 had to wear a lid.

That meant Bill and his friends could ride with the wind fully in their hair. But what is incongruent with Bill and his anti-establishment attitude is his motorcycle of choice happened to be an Ariel Square Four.

And not just one Square Four. In the 1970s he had several, including a chopper and a couple of nice, tastefully chromed out originals. He rode them regularly, but over time they ended up parked in his garage and eventually had to be sold off. That’s when, two years ago, Jim Balestrieri of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, heard about the collection.

4/26/2019 7:25:01 AM

Sorry for the repeat message / comment; the blog didn't seem to be working.

4/25/2019 7:34:37 AM

Where did the ape-hanger handle bars come from. They're so wrong.

4/25/2019 7:33:10 AM

On average 84 motorcyclists die every year in Wisconsin. About 75 percent of those riders weren’t wearing a helmet. Families left behind to suffer the cost of “freedom to ride with the wind fully in their hair.”

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