Restoration – Motorcycle Ariel 1929 250ccm OHV – The Options

When I said in the last article I want to make the Ariel motorcycle road legal again, I have to decide which way to go. I see two options, but let’s talk about them later.

First I need to know what bike I have exactly and in what state it is.

The beginning of the company Ariel Motorcycles started in 1870 and was producing bicycles initially. The name Ariel indicated “the spirit of the air”. The first motorcycle was produced in 1902. By 1929, the year my motorbike was built, Ariel was producing six models, mainly 250 and 500 ccm models. In 1926 a new designer joined Ariel company and introduced new engines for new motorcycle models, produced between 1926 and 1930, known as Black Ariels. In 1929 three models of 250cc were produced with model codes LB, LF and LG. According to information found at Draganfly Motorcycles website, the codes meaning was L for 250cc, B for side valve type, F for the standard OHV model (although in company catalogue the company says it is De Luxe type) and G for sport version (although other company materials says G stands for De Luxe).

By searching through information available the bike I own must be Ariel 1929 250 c.c. Two Port O.H.V. De Luxe Model LF. This was also confirmed by comparing engine and frame numbers with the table for Ariel bikes (link).

When reading the original marketing Ariel brochure, I noticed a part describing Mr. James Taylor ride to the top of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, UK. Funny how it gets connected. When I was a small boy I read about a daring winter climb to Ben Nevis of a famous Czech climber Miroslav Šmíd, later on in my life I climbed Ben Nevis myself with my friend, and other British friend of mine originates from Birmingham where Ariel motorcycles company was based.

It must be the destiny!

What confuses me is the stated power of the engine. The manufacturer says it has 10 horsepower, which I would agree to, however the historical legal papers I have available states 2.5 horsepower.

Nevertheless, now when I know what bike I have, I can explore options how to make it road legal. I see these.

1) Customise the bike further to meet current legal requirements and obtain papers somehow.

The customisation can be in a form of a bobber, something like Paul Janssen built.

2) Restore the bike to the as close as possible original state and register it as a vintage motorcycle

This is how it can look like with all the glory of the past. Great look and “justice” to the history, however also not so great handling, comfort and higher weight.

I am going to explore both options and share the findings.

Leave a Comment