Ariel Leader twin-cylinder, two-stroke motorcycle, 1963.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Ariel began producing bicycles in the West Midlands in 1870, and in 1898 made their first powered vehicle, a tricycle using a de Dion engine. Introduced in 1959, the Ariel Leader's radical design was intended to appeal to the commuter market by combining the performance and handling of a motorcycle with the weather protection normally only available on a scooter. The Leader was powered by a 250cc engine giving it a top speed of 69 mph. In common with most of the British motorcycle industry, Ariel struggled to compete with Japanese imports in the 1960s, and closed in 1967.