Good news: Ariel will show off its long-awaited motorcycle at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Bad news: It won't be anything like the two-wheeled Atom we expected. Worse news: Automatic transmission.
"We're not making a race rep, which will possibly surprise some people," Ariel boss Simon Saunders told Visor Down. "We looked at this and decided you can already go out and buy a bike that you could win the TT on, so building a faster bike seemed academic."
Academic? Hmph. So what is Ariel going to make?
According to Saunders, they're putting a focus on customization rather than outright speed.
"Every single one of our cars is totally made for a customer and the bikes will be the same," says Saunders. "We've got three different seats, two or three different tanks, different front ends, different wheels. It will be a bit like getting a suit made."
That sounds great, until you get to Saunders' first example: a performance cruiser with an upright seating position and an automatic transmission.
Like the 170-hp Honda VFR1200F Ariel is pilfering for its engine and swing arm, the dual-clutch gearbox will come along for the ride. But only if the customer wants it, and it seems to have less to do with performance and more to do with comfort.
"For someone who wants a cruiser, you can have that," says Saunders.
Reading between the lines, Ariel is under the gun to get the bike ready for Goodwood at the end of the month. We won't see a production example, but a development mule, and it won't be the backroad terrorist we were hoping for, even if it does run up Earl of March's driveway.