Tipping the scales at 235kg the Ace R is certainly no featherweight, but it doesn't feel bulky and the lightweight wheels help offset its long wheelbase in slower speed corners, allowing it to drop onto its side with ease.
It's a bit of an odd feeling at first, but you soon start to trust the grip provided by the Dunlop tyres and the Ace can certainly be enjoyed in corners in a similar fashion to a Ducati Diavel. On more uneven surfaces the Öhlins can feel a little firm, but a perfect set-up for your local roads is only a few clicks away.
Where the standard Ace models make 173bhp through a stock Honda VFR1200 V4 motor, the R is the daddy! Boasting new stainless steel cams, a 1mm bigger bore taking its capacity out to 1267.4cc, bespoke pistons, a balanced crank and extensive head work that includes new valve gear, the Ace R tops 200bhp with 105.5ftlb of torque.
On the road it not only sounds amazing through Ariel’s throaty exhaust (especially on over-run), it is beautifully smooth and packed full of grunt. Due to the sheer thrust on offer it is a touch fierce when you first open the throttle, but if you gently roll the power on the snatch is reduced.
Using the HM quickshifter at low revs, especially from first to second, results in a hefty clunk from the gearbox, but once the revs build it’s nice and slick. And if you turn the traction control off it's even more exciting…
Ariel's sheer attention to detail and use of quality components means that reliability shouldn’t be an issue. The Honda engine may be tuned, but it is a solid lump that can take the extra power and Ariel have kept it simple by not messing with the gearbox or shaft drive.
You get the feeling that if anything did go wrong, Ariel have such pride in their workmanship that it would be sorted out with minimal fuss.
Justifying the value of any bike with a £60,000 price tag is tricky, but the Ariel Ace R is a beautiful piece of British engineering that is dripping with quality components.
The aluminium frame is CNC machined from solid billet, carbon fibre is everywhere, the Honda motor has been extensively tuned, each bike is totally hand built by a single technician from start to finish and Ariel will happily alter the spec depending on what the owner wants. If you can afford to spend big, you are certainly getting something very special indeed with the Ace R.
Where do you start? The Ace R boasts BST carbon fibre wheels, carbon bodywork, a carbon tank, Öhlins R&T suspension, Nissin six-piston calipers, a bespoke chassis, race dash, tuned motor, traction control, combined ABS, HM quickshifter, and far more besides.
For a hand-built bike, it is far from lacking in any department. And it even has a shaft drive so you don’t have to bother with messy chain lube!