Village Square

In the age of the sporting single, Ariel gave us a gentleman’s four

A village emerges as you roll back into England, crossing a border to leave a land where familiar roadsigns were suddenly bilingual.

The village is mostly undeveloped, the road through it unimproved, unwidened. There’s a shop. A red telephone box. A bench. This is the classic cliché. Pull up, switch off, dismount, sit and consider.cbg-dec-p72

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Bees hum, metal ticks softly, cooling. The two tunes match each other, pacing themselves in the afternoon quiet. Looks like rain. But a light rain, nothing to get hung about.

This is something rare – very rare. The bike’s probably familiar to you, even if you may never have actually seen one on the roads, never mind spent a decent time riding one. It’s a four cylinder British bike, and prior to the resurgence of Triumph a couple of decades back those were rare beasts indeed. How many can you name? And how many of those were built in decent numbers? Answers on a postcard.

And of course the classic myth has its inevitable tales to tell about Ariel’s twin twin – which is what the Four actually is, perhaps. The tales talk of overheating rear cylinders, of relentless oil leaks, of warped heads, lots of things like that. Riders of these machines rarely grumble – not to your humble scribbler, at any rate. Riders of Ariel’s Fours tend to be as dedicated as any other bunch of enthusiasts – and you need to be an enthusiast to ride one regularly. You need to appreciate it, to understand how it does what it does. You do that… and the Square will reward you with a riding experience unlike any other in the British back catalogue of great bikes. Because they are that; they are great bikes.

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Read more in December’s issue of CBG

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