Ariel VB – 600cc – 1951


The Ariel VB 600cc is a notable motorcycle from the post-war era, produced by Ariel Motorcycles, a British company with a rich history in motorcycle manufacturing. Here’s a detailed look at its specifications, manufacturer design, legacy, and some interesting facts, focusing on the 1951 model:


  • Engine: 600cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke, side-valve
  • Bore and Stroke: 86mm x 95mm
  • Compression Ratio: Approximately 5.5:1
  • Power Output: Around 13 horsepower
  • Transmission: Four-speed gearbox with chain final drive
  • Top Speed: Approximately 70 mph (113 km/h)
  • Frame: Steel tubular frame with a single downtube
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Girder forks
    • Rear: Rigid (plunger suspension was introduced later)
  • Brakes:
    • Front: Drum brake
    • Rear: Drum brake
  • Fuel Capacity: Approximately 3.5 gallons (16 liters)
  • Weight: Around 375 pounds (170 kg)

Manufacturer Design:

  • Designer: Ariel Motorcycles, under the leadership of Jack Sangster, developed the VB 600cc as a robust and reliable motorcycle suited for both civilian and military use.
  • Aesthetic: The Ariel VB features a classic British motorcycle design with a sturdy and utilitarian appearance, including a teardrop fuel tank, chrome accents, and a minimalist approach to bodywork.
  • Purpose: Designed primarily for reliability and ease of maintenance, the VB 600cc was aimed at riders seeking a dependable motorcycle for everyday use and long-distance touring.
  • Build Quality: Known for its durability, the VB was built to handle rough conditions and provide consistent performance, thanks to its strong engine and solid frame construction.


  • Military Heritage: The VB 600cc was derived from the W/NG 350cc military model used extensively during World War II, inheriting its robust design and reliability.
  • Post-War Market: In the post-war years, Ariel aimed to capitalize on the demand for reliable and affordable motorcycles, positioning the VB as a versatile option for a wide range of riders.
  • Cultural Impact: The VB 600cc contributed to Ariel’s reputation for producing durable and dependable motorcycles, strengthening the brand’s presence in both the UK and international markets.

Interesting and Important Facts:

  • Side-Valve Engine: The VB’s side-valve engine design, while considered less advanced than overhead-valve engines, was chosen for its simplicity, ease of maintenance, and ability to deliver reliable performance.
  • Long-Distance Capability: The VB 600cc was known for its ability to handle long-distance journeys with ease, making it a popular choice among touring riders.
  • Military Influence: The design and engineering principles of the VB were heavily influenced by Ariel’s experience with military motorcycles, resulting in a robust and resilient bike.
  • Collector’s Item: Today, the Ariel VB 600cc is a sought-after collector’s item, appreciated for its historical significance, classic design, and the enduring legacy of the Ariel brand.
  • Engineering Evolution: The VB model showcased Ariel’s engineering capabilities and set the stage for subsequent developments in motorcycle design and technology within the company.


The Ariel VB – 600cc – 1951 stands out as a testament to British motorcycle engineering in the post-war era. Its combination of a robust side-valve engine, sturdy frame, and practical design made it a reliable and versatile motorcycle for a wide range of riders. The VB’s legacy continues to be celebrated by vintage motorcycle enthusiasts and collectors, who value its historical significance and classic charm. Whether appreciated for its engineering, durability, or place in the history of Ariel Motorcycles, the VB 600cc remains an iconic model from the early 1950s.


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