Ariel - type VA / side-car Swallow
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Ariel D2-492-31-11
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 550
Model : type VA / side-car Swallow
Production : 1933 -
Category : (R) Street Bike


550 VB / With Swallow Sidecar - 1933

A long career

An ideal bike for hitching to a sidecar, the Ariel VB was little different from its rivals– like the famous Norton 16H Big Four – except for the prestige of its name. It was catalogued by Ariel for over 30 years; the marque was also renowned for its sturdy Square Four and Red Hunter.

Enter the Iron Horse

At the 1925 London Show, Ariel introduced a new emblem, the "Iron Horse," and a new slogan "Ariel – the Modern Motorcycle," which suited its new 557cc side-valve mount designed by Val Page, with its side-valves, three-speed transmission and chain drive.

From Sidecars to Jaguars

Updated with a saddle tank in 1927, then redesigned at the beginning of the 1930s, this sturdy war-horse had one of the longest careers in the history of motorcycling. Only modified in detail over the years, the VB was finally withdrawn at the end of 1958. In 1936, the swept volume was raised from 557 to 600cc by lengthening the stroke from 95 to 105mm and a foot-selector fitted to the gearbox. In 1946, came a telescopic fork, and an aluminum cylinder head was fitted in 1952. Rear suspension, by sliding plungers,

finally arrived in 1955. Power rating then was 15 hp at a steady 4400 rpm and top speed 60 mph. A superbly finished motorcycle, the Ariel VB found an ideal partner in the aluminum-paneled Swallow Sidecar, the finest of British "chairs," and the company had soon added the manufacturing of car bodies to its activities. After the sidecar business became a separate company in 1935, the new SS cars launched the first Jaguars.


Engine: 557cc (86x95mm) air-cooled single cylinder four-stroke

Valves: side-valve

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 3-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: girder forks (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: drum (front & rear)

Wheels: wire (front & rear)

Weight: 375 lb

Maximum Speed: 60 mph

The Swallow offered "Car Comfort at Sidecar Cost." The side-valve Ariel VB was just the right kind of bike to haul it.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

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François-Marie Dumas

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