The Ariel Leader was an attempt by the British motorcycle manufacturer to take on the popularity of the Lambretta.
Ariel hoped that they could make a bike reminiscent of a scooter but which featured “motorcycle” performance characteristics.
The Leader was designed by Val Page and Bernard Knight, and for the times, it represented a new concept with its 250cc two-stroke engine. That mill was suspended in a 20 gauge steel ‘backbone’ frame made from pressings and welded down the middle.
While the Leader’s 250cc motor wasn’t considerably more powerful than the scooters it was trying to compete against, it did take over a significant share of the market segment during the early 60’s. When the streamlined bodywork proved somewhat less than appealing to buyers, Ariel introduced the Arrow, a stripped down version of the Leader which lopped 50cc of the displacement of the original powerplant to make production costs lower and make the line more affordable.
Ariel went under in 1965, and they were the first of the British motorcycle manufacturing dynasties to bite the dust in the face of competition from Japanese makers.
- Production – 1958-1965
- Engine – parallel twin, two-stroke
- Bore and Stroke – 54 x 54 mm
- Capacity – 249cc
- Power – 17.5bhp @ 6750rpm
- Top Speed – 73mph
When the Leader appeared during the 1958 model year, it offered an integral fairing and windscreen and a false petrol tank which doubled as a luggage compartment. It also included decorative extras like integrated saddle bags, but that didn’t prevent buyers of traditional motorcycles from disliking the machine’s art-deco styling cues.
One major problem, production costs were too high for the market at the time which led to the stripped-down conformations of the Arrow, a line which was launched in 1960.
Ariel’s switched over their entire production effort to manufacturing the Arrow, and production of those machines reached more than 1000 a month at the peak. Riders of the Arrow quickly set to work tuning the lightweight bikes and those efforts upped the power of the Arrows.
Collector Motorcycle Insurance Tips
Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle
You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.