The Ariel Motorcycle Company was founded in 1902, borne out of the earlier bicycle business. The name Ariel originally comes from their ultra-light first penny-farthing bicycle. For its life as a motorcycle manufacturer, the company was based at Dawlish Road, Bournbrook, near Selly Oak, Birmingham. In 1944 the business was sold to BSA, who maintained production at Bournbrook until moving it to their Small Heath factory, the last true Ariel motorcycle being produced in 1967. Two Ariel engines are referenced in period.
The original engine was a 500, with chain-driven overhead valves. But by 1937 a 996cc version was produced. The versions most likely used in competition were the 1949 redesign, which introduced alloy head and barrels, giving 35bhp on pump fuel in standard specification, or the 1953 Mk II (also known as the four-pipe as the exhaust manifolds were replaced with separate pipes) which increased power to 40bhp