Picture the Ariel Atom in your head. Not difficult, is it? The car's skeletal structure is its defining feature, and that work of engineering art unsurprisingly finds its way onto the company's new motorcycle, the Ariel Ace.

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Like the Atom, it's designed to be fast. But like the Atom, it's also designed to be fun. Ariel founder Simon Saunders says the company did consider a hardcore sports bike, ready to topple Hondas, Suzukis, Ducatis and the like, but reasoned most riders can't really extract their full potential. With a 1,200-cc Honda V-4 engine wedged inside the frame the Ace will always be fast, but it's designed to be easy to ride too--letting owners get the most from their purchase.

That V-4 develops 175 horsepower and powers the Ace to a 165 mph top speed. Acceleration times will almost certainly be enough to match--and possibly beat--the company's insane lightweight road cars, and the whole bike has been designed for adaptability—letting customers design bikes as diverse as a conventional naked bike and a "low riding cruiser" from the same skeletal chassis.

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The frame itself is the work of 70 hours of machining, according to Ariel, and is formed from six main pieces of billet section aluminum. Linkage or tube-type forks can be selected and Ohlins dampers are standard. That all goes some way to justifying the Ace's hefty list price—it starts at £20,000 (approximately $34,000), and those customizable features probably won't be cheap either. But at just 100-150 units per year it won't be common either. If you've already got an Atom sitting in the garage, it could be an essential companion...


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