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1955 Ariel Red Hunter

1955 Ariel Red Hunter

The 1930s were indeed the Golden Age for the British motorcycle industry. At the time, nearly all of them relied heavily on one basic engine architecture: the air-cooled, pushrod OHV single, and most marques had built their lineup of 350 and 500 singles. World War II ruined all the fun starting in 1939, at which time all production of civilian products ceased and war production began. With the cessation of hostilities in 1945, it took a year for British industry just to catch its breath again, after the fever pitch high-volume production that Britain’s War Department required. By 1946, the British motorcycle industry was building motorcycles for public consumption once again. However, the rush to market necessitated carrying over outdated pre-war designs, in many cases. The Ariel Red Hunter was already such an advance machine in its day that even before postwar changes could be made, they were still very capable machines. However, one welcome improvement was the telescopic front forks, which replaced the pre-war girder forks, for a huge improvement in both handling and ride.

The Red Hunter’s 500cc engine used a cast iron cylinder and head with 2 overhead valves per cylinder. The crankcase was made of aluminum alloy and split vertically, carrying a built-up crankshaft in two large main bearings. Lubrication was by plunger-type pump and was dry sump with a separate oil tank. The 1955 Ariel Red Hunter benefitted from a modern frame with swing-arm rear suspension.

1955 Ariel Red Hunter SPECIFICATIONS

Model designation<br>

Engine type<br>


Bore & Stroke<br>

Compression ratio<br>

Horsepower @ RPM<br>

Primary drive<br>



Final drive<br>

Suspension, front<br>

Suspension, rear<br>

Brake, front<br>

Brake, rear<br>

Curb weight<br>

Fuel capacity<br>

Fuel economy<br>

Top speed<br>

1955 Ariel Red Hunter<br>

Air-cooled OHV vertical single<br>

497cc / 30.0 ci<br>

81.8mm X 95mm<br>


26 hp @ 5,600 rpm<br>

Chain, oil bath<br>

Multi-plate, wet<br>

4-speed, right-foot shift<br>


Telescopic forks<br>

Swing Arm w/2 shocks<br>

SLS drum<br>

SLS drum<br>

370 lbs / 168 kg<br>

3.25 US gal / 12.3 L<br>

45-65 mpg est<br>

85 mph<br>