Ariel Bikes 3

Writers Ariel Motorbikes Kennington London
This sign from Kennington in south London was spotted by Steve and I photographed it soon after. It’s right beside a library which makes it difficult to get a square shot. It is a mystery why it says “Writers” across the bottom and also interesting that the top left of the sign has completely gone.Ariel began as a manufacturer of bicycles before moving into motorcycles, for which they became famous.  The fact that the last motorcycle was made in 1967 dates this sign. A brief history can be found on Wikipedia.

The design of this sign is quite advanced in terms of the type faces used and the illustration of the man riding the horse. It reads “Ariel, Leaders of Design”. At first I thought this was a play on the word ‘leader‘ which was a model designed in 1954 but this 1951 postcard makes use of the slogan before this date. Note the stylised horse’s head in the top right. The company appears to have toggled between using this and the full horse and man design.

1951 Ariel Motorbikes postcard, leaders of design

1937 Ariel Motorbikes Advertisement

Here’s a 1937 advertisement showing the origins of the man on the horse logo/icon and it also uses a similar yellow colour to the sign. The typeface used for ‘Ariel’ likewise remains unchanged over time. This was once a great British brand and appears to have gone out of business in the face of increasing competition from Japan. Despite this they survive in Kennington because of their use of the painted advertising medium.

More examples of press advertising can here.

  • Sam Roberts

    >Jerry has added some more information to the Ariel story. His site ( also has lots of good information.

    From Jerry:
    "Writers was probably the last Ariel shop, selling only Ariel spares until the late 70’s. Another was Harold Lines at Crawley, but he closed before Writers.

    The demise of the Ariel marque is an emotive subject. The factory was at Selly Oak in Birmingham and was only pulled down a couple of years ago to make way for student accommodation for the nearby University. Ariel was closed down by BSA in the early 60’s. They had designed and built the Arrow and Leader 250cc 2-stroke twins that were very successful. Production was moved to the BSA factory at Small Heath and then dumped in 1965. And what was it that was wiping the floor with the British Motorcycle Industry over the next few years? Small capacity 2-stroke twins."

  • Ross

    >The silhouette of a motorcycle with a fairing and a screen on a bus lane sign (where Powered Two Wheelers are allowed to use bus lanes) is an Aerial Leader

  • Another Ariel connection from Frome in Somerset: