Back in early 2020, auto journalist Jonny Smith started putting more time into his YouTube channel. While he’s mostly a car guy, he’s also had the odd tumble into love with a motorbike or two along the way—including a gorgeous 1965 Honda CZ100, which he showed off back then. However, he doesn’t consider himself a particularly experienced or skilled bike guy, so he knew he was going to need a more qualified co-conspirator to help out if he was ever going to get more bikes on the channel. 

Fast-forward to 2022, and Smith’s The Late Brake Show YouTube channel just introduced its new Byrne Out series, starring none other than six-time British SuperBike champion Shane Shakey Byrne, himself. What could possibly kick this British YouTube car (and bike) playlist off with a more appropriate bang than a visit to the Ariel factory to thrash around both a new Ariel Ace and an Ariel Atom 4 in one go? 

In modern times, Ariel’s vehicles are all completely customizable according to the new owner’s preferences. If you go to buy one, you’ll work your way through a book filled with different choices on things like what seat you want, options including windscreens, wheels, fuel tank sizes, and the list goes on.  

The particular Ariel Ace as tested by Byrne was, of course, chock full to the brim with options to bring happy delirium to any dedicated gearhead. Those BST carbon wheels alone are things of jaw-dropping beauty. Also, the girder fork outfitted with an Ohlins TTX shock to echo the front suspension setup of the historic Ariel Square Four is just an absolute chef’s kiss of a design choice. 

Ariel builds its current Aces around the 1,237 cc Unicam Honda V4 engine found in the VFR 1200, with an 81mm bore and a 60mm stroke. Claimed power is 173 brake horsepower at 10,000 rpm coupled with 131 newton-meters (or about 96.6 pound-feet) of torque at 8,750 rpm. The gearbox is a six-speed unit, and the bike has switchable traction control. Ariel will also build an Ace with Honda’s DCT gearbox as an additional option—because really, just about anything you like can be an option on a bike like this. Top speed is 165 miles per hour (or 265 kilometers per hour), and the zero to 60 time is 3.1 seconds. 

Each bike or car that Ariel builds has components made elsewhere, but they’re all assembled, from start to finish, by a single person in Ariel’s factory in Somerset. In fact, you’ll find a little plaque with that person’s name on your vehicle when you take delivery of it. All told, around 150 to 200 hours go into each build, getting every detail just right for its new owner. That gorgeous billet aluminum frame on the Ariel Ace takes about 70 hours to mill from a single block, and a look inside one frame in the workshop, with its tank off, is simply breathtaking to behold. Is it even prettier on the inside? You be the judge. 

Of course, Smith and Byrne also take an Ariel Atom 4 out to play—and the first thing you notice is how big it makes everything else on the road feel. Suddenly, a public bus looks absolutely massive. Even a relatively small car, like a Honda Jazz, almost begins to resemble a Hummer H2 bearing down on you. The happy little turbo chirp can’t help but make you grin watching this video, though, so we can only imagine what it must be like to actually be in control of.  

The price on an Ariel Ace starts at £ 20,829 + value-added tax (VAT), or about $27,953. That amount obviously increases as you tweak and customize your options—but if uniqueness is what you’re going for, then you’ll definitely achieve the goal here. The test bike that Byrne rode would run around £ 31,000 (or about $41,603).  

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