ARIEL HT500 – Sammy Miller – 786GON

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Rear view of 786GON showing the fibreglass mouldings by Butler. The Ariel was not a replica, it was Sammy Miller’s second string Ariel he used as often as GOV132, it is rumoured that Sammy simply changed the numbers over for different events. Photo courtesy of Roy A. Kerr.

Not generally known, but here we have Ariel HT500 registered as 786GON, known as ‘Sammy’s other Ariel’. During the late 1950’s and 1960’s Sammy Miller had access to two HT500 Ariels, his famous version GOV132 and the machine pictured here. The bike is now in Italy in the possession of a collector, having been owned by Jock Wilson (Comerfords) Ernie Page, Roy Kerr and Tim Beaven, plus some other individuals

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Timing side view of 786GON when it was owned by Roy Kerr. The exhaust was made to blow mud off the rear tyre. The machine was fitted with Ariels alloy ‘Leader’ type hubs. Photo courtesy: Roy A. Kerr.

The machine was put on sale in early 1965 by motorcycle dealers, Comerfords Limited in Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey along with GOV132. Comerfords having taken over the support from Ariels to Sammy Miller when the factory had ceased manufacture of trials machines. 786GON was for sale at £350, which was almost £150 more expensive than a brand new Greeves two-stroke at that time.

Arthur Fowler bought 786GON, but returned it for sale at the end of 1965 to Comerfords and Jock Wilson purchased the machine.

The motor shows its pedigree. The engine number indicates that this is no ordinary HT5, but an experimental motor. (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

The motor shows its pedigree. The engine number indicates that this is no ordinary HT5, but an experimental motor EXHS 99. (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

After selling the bike to Harry Rayner, Wilson bought it back from another owner, John Parry, at which time Jock Wilson slowly restored the machine to its former glory.

Wilson sold 786GON to Scotsman Ernie Page, himself an accomplished trials, scrambles and ISDT competitor, who owned Page Motors in Edinburgh, who at that time had a sizeable motorcycle collection. After a period of time, Page sold the Ariel to former employee, Roy Kerr, himself a former Scottish trials champion.

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After some years under the ownership of Tim Beaven, the bike was then sold to a private collector in Italy called Carlo Ramella. The Ariel lives on but in its new home in the Italian alps.

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786GON at it’s current home in the Italian Alps with current owner/collector: Carlo Ramella. Photo copyright: Justyn Norek, Turin.

Justyn Norek a design consultant from Turin, made the following observations of 786GON when a test of the machine was undertaken by the German ‘Trialsport’ magazine in March 2014, here they are:

“Frame: In Reynolds 531 tubing, modified with steeper steering angle, oil in frame.

Fuel Tank: Beautifully styled in fibreglass, very light and slim design, one bolt mounting with depression in front part to allow full lock of the steering, with the fork coming close to the tank. Perfectly done by Butler Moulded Laminates, the creation of Chris Butler. Also the builder of the Butler trials machine. It has a metal logo on the top of the tank a real work of art.

Seat Base: Integrated with the rear mudguard, another artwork in fibreglass by Butler. Very slim viewed from the top, in cream white finish, synonymous with Miller’s Ariel. It also had the integration of the rear registration number plate. The seat is perfectly designed to be light and slim, but still comfortable.

Exhaust system: Starting with the beautiful curve, extremely compact and well tucked-in to the motorcycle. It terminates with a small silencer breathing out the hot expelled gasses on to the rear tyre knobs. This ingenious idea allows for cleaning of the rear tyre from any mud and leaf-mould and also warms the tyre rubber for better grip.

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“… extremely compact and well tucked-in to the motorcycle. It terminates with a small silencer breathing out the hot expelled gasses on to the rear tyre knobs.” – Justyn Norek (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

Kick-starter and Gear Shift levers: Bored out to shave more weight from the machine.

Speedometer: Mounted to the engine plate and protected by the aluminium shield from mud etc. It is not the easiest to look at when in operation, but who looks at the speedometer during an event. This was merely an attempt to keep the machine street-legal.
Chain guard in fibreglass, neatly styled with simplicity, weight-saving and functionality.
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“…Chain guard in fibreglass, neatly styled with simplicity, weight-saving and functionality.” – Justyn Norek. (Image copyright: Roy Kerr)

Front mudguard: Again in cream white fibreglass by Butler. minimal and beautifully shaped and in perfect aesthetic harmony with the fuel tank, seat base and rear mudguard units. This creates an unforgettable aesthetics of this historic motorcycle.”
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Technical Specification of 786GON:

ARIEL 786GON – Technical Specifications:

Engine layout: Single cylinder, vertical cylinder in light alloy.

Capacity: 497cc

Bore & Stroke 81.8 X 95 mm

Compression ratio: 8.5: 1

Max power: 24 hp at 5800 rpm

Carburetor: Amal monobloc.

Oil system: Dry sump with double oil pump and separate oil tank.

Primary drive: Chain.

Clutch: multiple discs in oil bath.

Gearbox: Burman – separate, 4 speed ratios: 6:1; 9.5:1; 14.7:1; 19.3:1

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Gearbox: Burman – separate, 4 speed ratios: 6:1; 9.5:1; 14.7:1; 19.3:1

Frame: single down front tube in Reynolds 531 steel – Weight around 14 kg.

Suspension:

Front: Hydraulic telescopic forks with sliders shortened from Norton road-holder, yokes from BSA shortened to shorten wheelbase.

Rear: Rear swing-arm on silent-block bushes with chain oil system incorporated, Armstrong shock absorbers.

Wheels: steel rims, tyres front: 2.75 x 21, rear 4.00 x 19.

Brakes: Front: drum type 180 mm – Rear: drum side type 180 mm

Main dimensions: wheelbase 1340 mm

Ground clearance 220 mm

Seat high: 810 mm

Steering head angle 63.5 degrees

Weight: 111kg.

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The magazine Trialsport in Germany carried a full report using material from Justyn Norek Snr and his son Justyn Norek Jnr. If you can read German language, here is a link to the article on the internet, (you may need to right click on the link to open it):

Article 786GON – Trialsport ©

© PDF version of article from Trialsport Magazine DE: Ariel 786 GON (1)

© Photos courtesy: Roy Kerr, Kelso, Scotland, UK.

© Photos courtesy: Justyn Norek, Turin, Italy.

For more photos of 786GON – See Justyn Norek Photos

Please be aware that the article on Ariel, 786GON which appeared in Trialsport magazine is copyright – Trialsport March 2014 – © 2013 TRIALSPORT Verlag, Odenwaldstraße 5, 97896 Freudenberg-Ebenheid

Additional information Words and photos copyright © – Justyn Norek, Turin, Italy.

© – Article: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2015 (All Rights reserved)

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