There are bikes, there are big bikes, and then there are the custom, exclusively limited-production bikes like the Ariel Ace.
To behold an Ace for the very first time is like viewing a sculpture. It’s big and imposing like the Ducati Diavel, but the perimeter frame is irresistibly gorgeous. It looks similar in concept to a tubular trellis frame, but it’s nothing commonplace. Each side is machined from a single piece of aluminum billet, with diagonal elements giving it the look of a small bridge. The tank is safely nestled inside, and while the bobbed seat gives the bike a sort of hybrid look between a naked sport and a cruiser, you have to admit that it looks, well, ace.
That strange-looking fork is called a “girder,” Ariel’s own creation. While a conventional fork can be specced with the bike, that would be like ordering regular fries with a Big Mac. Go big or go home. First launched by the British Ariel Motor Company back in 2014, it’s only recently that Filipinos can now order their very own Ace through importer Bikerbox.
Envisioned as a no-excuses custom superbike, the Ariel Ace is powered by a 1,237cc liquid-cooled V4 from the Honda VFR. You can specify your Ace with a six-speed sequential manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Yep, you can opt not to deal with a clutch lever on this bike. The fact that its beating heart is a Honda should reassure prospective owners about its reliability. Dual-disc six-piston Nissins and a single disc at the rear with ABS haul the Ace’s 231kg mass to a stop. Zero-to-100km/h takes around 3.1 seconds, and top speed is somewhere in the area of 270km/h.
It’s all a bit academic, of course. Raw numbers don’t do justice to the sheer craftsmanship poured into the bike. Ariel claims that it takes 70 hours of machining time to finish a single frame, and the result is perfection. Between the immaculate welds on the frame and the fork, the clean routing of the cables and the hoses, the symmetry of lines and curves, and the artful framing of the engine to avoid the typical “bolts-gathered-up-by-magnet” mess of liquid-cooled bikes, the Ace is another fine example of artwork you can actually ride. Or just place it in your living room with soft lighting so you can admire it every day.
Each Ace is built from start to finish by just one technician. Before he gets to work, you can customize your Ace from the type of seat, the shape of the tank, the fork type, the footrests, the handlebar, the wheel design, the fairings, the exhaust pipes, and even the different head angles to suit your riding style. This also means that it’s hard to pigeonhole exactly what type of bike the Ace is. You can design it to handle like a power cruiser or a sport bike, but either way is just as awesome.
It will take roughly a year from the time you place your order to the day you can finally take delivery of an Ariel Ace. How much all of this will cost you depends on the vagaries of foreign-exchange rates, shipping and duties—plus, the fact that the nature of custom bikes means no two units are alike. Taking all these into account, Bikerbox declined to give a hard number. If you’re serious about parking an Ace in your garage, you can just give them a call and talk about your next two-wheel investment.