The British motorcycle Ariel from year 1929 has been with our family for over 90 years. It was purchased by my grandfather in his forties, when visiting a funfair in a small town near his address in northern part of Bohemia. He saw a salesman trying to fix the motorbike, using it as means of transportation for a stand and confections he was selling. My grandad was extremely skillful and offered help. After some time of trying they fixed Ariel however the salesman was still unhappy. He shared some of his experience with the motorbike with my grandad, how many times he has to fix it and that the machine needs constant supervision to operate which salesman recognized is out of his ability. But when he saw how my grandad knows mechanics, offered Ariel to him.
“Well, it is a nice piece of machine,” considered the offer grandad “but I don’t think I can afford it.”
“I see.” said the salesman and was thinking.”What if I exchange it for money you have on you plus you give me your bicycle. I am unable to maintain the motorbike and the bicycle would be more suitable for my needs, as my stand and candis I am selling is not big or heavy.”
“Well, this I will do although I don’t think the deal is favourable to you.”
Salesman assured my grandad that he would be happier without Ariel and they went forward with the agreement.
And that is the story of how Ariel become a part of our family.
And it could have been lost forever not a long time after the purchase, should not be my grandad artful back then. The Second World War broke out and as soon as Germans occupied Sudeten Mountains, they started to search for every possible machinery in every house to confiscate it and use it for Bundeswehr’s purposes. The grandad, hearing such rumours, went to his garage, dismantled the Ariel motorcycle to the smallest pieces and put all parts in several wooden boxes which he hid at attic. When Germans came, they found boxes and asked grandad what’s inside.
“A motorbike, British Ariel” answered truthfully grandad, “take it, if you need to.”
The German soldier ran over the boxes with his eyes, opened one box and seeing hundreds of parts of the bike said “You know what, we keep the boxes here and will come back for them later.”
They never returned.
Much later on in sixties, when grandad decided to put parts back together and make it running motorcycle, he made a lot of customization to the bike which sadly non-reversible discounted the originality of the machine from factory. Although the customization is understandable from the mechanical point of view, damper for the back wheel, bigger saddle, modern front forks, bigger fuel tank, it is a disaster from the historical point of view.
On top of that, most of the original parts were left in wooden boxes and later on thrown into scrap. Also the official technical certificate for the vehicle was revoked.
I inherited the motorcycle and I want to make it road legal again. I don’t know how yet. I am sure it will be lengthy and expensive process, but let’s get started.