Monday, May 02, 2005
Ariel Red Hunter
Enough political ranting for awhile, -it's time to for automotive matters once more. Today's picture is of my Ariel Red Hunter of mid-50s vintage. I owned this lovely single cylinder 350cc bike around 1967-68. I paid quite a lot of money for it back then (for me at least). I seem to remember a sum of £25-30. It was a proper full size motorbike and in very respectable condition. The exhaust note had a delightful mellifluous "thud-thud-thud" that is exclusive to singles. Starting involved manipulating an ignition advance-retard lever and choke, easing the kickstart to get the piston a bit before top dead centre and then giving an almighty heave. If I got it wrong (not too often, thankfully) the motor would backfire and try to kick me over the handlebars. Manly stuff indeed!
I zoomed around on the Ariel for about 6 months. I no longer felt inferior (as I did with the hopeless BSA Bantam) when in the company of friends who owned bigger machines made by Triumph, BSA and AJS. Indeed I used to ride into the Guildford Tech car park feeling very cool. I felt less cool when I turned up on it at my school speech day. In a moment of adolescent pride (stupidity?) I had eschewed the offer of a lift from my parents, wishing to appear independent and a free spirit. Needless to say this was a big mistake as, somewhere along the eight mile journey, the clouds opened and I got drenched. I can remember very clearly trudging on stage to collect my O level certificates with damp trousers and sodden Hush Puppies. I certainly didn't impress the girls that day.
Ultimately the bike developed a bizarre fault. Something like clutch slip. I examined the clutch plates and they appeared fine as did the primary chain and sprocket. I couldn't diagnose the problem and put it down to something "expensive" like main gearbox bearings. Fixing such items was beyond my budget and I sold the bike for £15. In retrospect the Ariel was a classic piece of British engineering and I should have hung onto it. Oh well...