Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Motors and Cycles

Its been taking me twice as long after my vacation, just to catch up with stuff from my vacation. One of the vacation adventures was a short trip to the AMA Vintage Bike Days at Mid-Ohio. There was lots to see and I won't cover all of it, but this is one small, interesting corner of the show.

I don't know a lot about the Ariel Square Four other than it was a high end British motorcycle with 4 cylinders arranged vertically in a square. Two crankshaft were geared together in the center to combine the output of what is essentially a pair of vertical twins. They were built from the late 20's through the late 50's in several different incarnations.

These are "4 pipe" engines from the mid-50's and I think they are a beautiful piece of metal sculpture.

This Ariel has a full "sedan car" sidecar. Looks appropriately British to my eye.

The advantage of video is sound. Now my little camera doesn't do a great job, but I thought I couldn't pass up the opportunity to capture the sound of this rare engine.


  1. Jac,

    The Square Four is one of those vintage bikes that has found love late in life. Twenty or so years ago they were considered unworthy of restoration because the rear cylinders tended to overheat easily making them less than rideable and reliable. Maybe modern oil technology makes this less of a problem or perhaps the classic look outweighs the drawbacks. Also, the price of any other vintage or antique four cylinder bike probably makes the Ariel more attractive to those who don't have $40k and up to spend on a vintage, more-than-two-cylinder ride.

    I ran across a fellow at a vintage bike meet about 1986 that had just finished restoring a Square Four and he half apologized for his efforts saying "I know it doesn't make any sense but I just like this bike."

    Regardless of any lingering mechanical issues (like no other Brit bike has that problem) the Ariel Square Four is a classy ride.


  2. I agree that its a less than ideal engine layout and execution. I think people are kind of afraid of these engines because no video that I've found on the web is rev'in it up. Still, I think its both unusual and nice looking engine and I kind of like the syncopated sound of it at idle.

    I also find it interesting that Suzuki used the same layout through parts of the 70's and 80's to great sucess in MotoGP.