Sunday, January 10, 2010

'There was movement at the station...'

Progress on the Ariel has been slow but steady. I've been undertaking various little jobs on the bike as and when the parts trickle in. One of the questions I've been wrestling with has been whether to leave the bike 'as is' without indicators. Indicators weren't necessary back in 1958 and I can find no trace that she was ever fitted with a set (I can't find any trace that of brake lights either for that matter!). It's almost impossible to find the original Leader indicators and when they do show up on the market they fetch ridiculous prices. I had a set of BSA style indicators and, of all things, a set of rectangular Trabant indicators. At one point I thought about installing the Trabant indicators on the front shield, but they looked ridiculously angular and out of place. In the end I found a set of replica Lucas indicators from Auto Electric Supplies ( I installed them over the weekend and I think they really look the part. Now just waiting on an original indicator switch I managed to source from the UK.

The engine has continued to run pretty well ever since I first got it ticking over. Not only that, but all the electrics proved to work fine as soon as a fully charged battery was installed, even the 'broken' horn sprung into life. But the clutch proved to be a problem. It was stuck and simply wouldn't budge. It took two weekends of fiddling around with the cables, soaking the gearbox in oil and finally propping up the bike and starting her in gear before the clutch finally began to loosen up. It still wasn't smooth by any means but by the third weekend had loosen up enough for me to try and move her under her own steam. And here's the result. It was only a short and stuttering ride up the driveway but it's a start. Unfortunately the video isn't very high quality as it was a scorcher of a day and the glare is pretty bad.

She starts up so easily these days

Outstanding jobs for me are: - finishing wiring up the indicators, installing the brake lights and replace the tyres. I want to replace all the cables; they do all work but feel a little bit slack. I also had some concerns about the quality of the brakes - Ariel brakes, especially the front brake, are notoriously weak - but testing the back brake on the ride it stopped the bike dead in its tracks. I'm still not convinced about re-painting. I think I might have the fender and grey side panels resprayed but I'm going to leave the rest of the bike alone.

An Update - The Ariel Goes to the Shop

Ivo and Roberto picked up the Leader on Wednesday 15th February 2010. They're going to do the final bits and pieces - electrical wiring and check the brakes. I really prefer having the professionals work on those things as they are kind of life or death when you're on the road. As there isn't really much to do I'm hoping to have the bike licensed and on the road very soon. I can't wait.


  1. Paul: Woo Hoo!!! Sounds as good as she looks. You will be out on the open road before you know it. Congrats on getting her going.

    John D.

  2. i have a leader too, number 249 , i think they started the frame numbers at 100 , so you have a nice early example there .
    mine is turquoise and blue with 2 piece screen conversion .
    ive also got an arrow cafe racer part finished .
    cheers and hope you enjoy the bike , a 58 one thats in working order is certainly on the rare side.