By Allan Boyd


The Ariel motorcycle company had produced Ariel Red Hunters since pre-war times; however, the KH500 twin cylinder model was not released until 1948.

My Red Hunter is an early 1949 model and was imported into Australia by Leo Bolton & Co of Adelaide, which were the S.A. distributors for Ariel and several other makes.  The Red Hunter’s history is a bit sketchy, however, I do know it was used as a road bike for many years.  In later years it experienced some excitement in its life as it was raced on short circuit dirt tracks in South  Australia.

I bought the bike in 1980 from Steve Hazelton, a classic bike dealer in Goulburn, who had bought a container load of bikes from Adelaide.  The Red Hunter was stripped down for racing and had a damaged engine.  At the time I did not know much about Ariels except that I remember my Dad rode a 1938 twin port 500.  Dad’s bike had a Dusting sidecar that Mum and I rode in.  I was about three or four years old at the time, and we lived in Brisbane.

I learnt a lot about Ariels as I completely dismantled and rebuilt the Red Hunter from the “ground up”.  I had few contacts in Australia for parts and information in those days.  I relied a great deal on the Ariel Motorcycle Club in England.  The motor required the most amount of work.  After dismantling it I found the crankshaft needed a rebuild, that when machined brought the bearings back to       standard size.  The cylinder liners were broken at the bottom so they needed re-sleeving to take the new pistons and rings that I had to import from England.  I then had to send the parts to a Sydney engineering firm for machining and I eventually reassembled them in my workshop.  I rebuilt the gearbox and clutch myself with the aid of many new and locally made parts, such as the bearings etc.

The frame and tinware, such as the mudguards, headlight, fuel and oil tanks and toolbox, were the easy part, although many parts still required bead blasting, repair and painting.  I was able to prepare and spray paint parts myself, thanks to the handed-down knowledge from my Dad who was a first class panel beater and spray painter.

In 1986, my family and I moved to Queanbeyan where I joined the local veteran vintage club, and with the help of some like-minded members completed the restoration of the Red Hunter in 1987.

In 1990 a group of Ariel enthusiasts including myself formed the AAR (Australia Ariel Register) and held our inaugural rally in Canberra in 1992 where the Red Hunter and sixty-three other Ariels from Australia wide got together.  This was a very satisfying experience for me.  It was a learning experience also, as I found I had a few incorrect bits on the Red Hunter including the wrong fuel tank!  Within a short time I located, restored and installed the     correct pieces to the Ariel.

Since 1992 the Red Hunter has been ridden in various rallies in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tassie and, of course, many local club events.  Two years ago (2003) before attending the Victor Harbour SA AAR rally, I rebuilt and installed a completely new engine as the original was feeling a little tired after nearly 14 years of use.

Although I have NINE other motorcycles, the old faithful Red Hunter remains my favourite. However, there is always a bike to be restored, and I have a “basket case” 1937 twin port 500 Ariel, similar to my Dad’s 1938 model, waiting for my attention.


8 responses to “The Story of my 1949 Ariel KH 500 Red Hunter Motorcycle – September 2005 –”

  1. Dear Sir Allan Boyd

    Ariel Twin 500cc 1949 motorcycle was the first motorcycle that I had in my life. I could buy Ariel KH 500, a service colleague having a machine 25 years of use. I was very weak magnet and the current barely enough to start the engine. I found a person skilled in winding engines redo the entanglement of the primary and secondary coils and let the magnet again in good condition. The Amal carburettor was widely used, but still gave to adjust the mixture to the satisfaction. This machine was not so famous in the world as their nearest sisters with the same Twin 500 engine with minor modifications, by relying on the supply of their engines by the group B.S.A. created by the famous builder in the 30s, Mr. Edward Turner, the famous parallel twins speed.
    The high point of Ariel was his incredible driveability and stability in high speed corners. The comfort provided by semi-rigid rear suspension of short course, but in such a way that the frame oscillated with the front forks making a stable and secure circular rotation.
    I had some problems with the Burman gearbox, having to recover one of engrenages fortunately without internal toothing. I bought it in 1970 and stayed with her only three years. I replaced it with a Zündapp KS 601 600cc boxer with transmission drive shaft.
    Result: never had the pleasure of pleasurable acceleration that English Parallel Twin much faster and inimitable stability and lightweight in relation to its power of 28 horses. If you can send me some pictures to my recollection, I will be very grateful. My email:
    Glaico Gobbo
    Ponta Grossa city,
    State of Parana,

  2. I wish one day the dear and competent friends of the English classic bikes allow post images, documents, diagrams, drawings in Paint explaining the constructive angles of pictures of the English machines are so stable and other useful or questions comments.

  3. Meaning of ARIEL name, Lion of God

    The main reason for the stability of Ariel Twin 500cc KH be so docile in high speed corners, and maintain stability on uneven terrain was drag angle ie the angle drawn vertically through the center of the front axle with the angle through the center the central bezel which supports the telescopic forks, causing the weight of the activity center and tangent passing underneath and perpendicular to the front tire to be well ahead of the wheel axle center. It would be as if a mighty hand puchasse the wheel more or less there are 3/4 in front of the shaft. The bike falls into curves like a wild cat and leaves her without the slightest pilot effort. Few machines do it with a tubular frame all gloved, a very light bike frame transition and the bike frame, further strengthened. The table had only one central tube well triangulated and connected to the engine and reinforced sheets completing the own simple framework of singles. However it functioned satisfactorily in two heavier-cylinder engines as well technique used by the competent British designers.

    Currently give to send the housing of the magnet to a specialist for high power magnets placed in fields (magnetic curves), greatly improving the spark of rotating coil which with modern varnishes leaves completely rigid entanglement without moving the polarity changes every half turn of the magnetic armature at high speed. This translates into durability and reliability of the magnetic coil winding for a long time, even more than the lives of pilots.

    The most fragile part is the electric dynamo small Lucas with one pole shoe, producing a maximum of 20 A at 6 volts.

    With the power of today’s magnets, I assume that there would be no need to wind the pole shoe forming an electromagnet. The very very strong field of super magnet is enough to excite the armature dynamo. The Lucas voltage and current regulators worked very well. The biggest problem in Brazil in the old days until the 70’s that had no technical electricians sufficient mainly for motorcycles. The owners understood very little maintenance and let the batteries come into short circuit, which grant that a large current excites the dynamo burning it and roasting the sensitive voltage regulator.

    Ariel which was not the girl’s eyes B.S.A. Group, wore bearing plane on the right side of the main bearing instead of a spherical bearing self rewarding. The engine twinned with the head and the cylinders also twinned cast iron, over-warm in major requests in warmer countries.

    All this was a Greek tragedy, as many classical and efficient machines last gold of the 50 British industry have been lost forever.

    Motorcycling Greetings!

  4. rowell walton Avatar

    what a great story Allan

  5. Oh, the nostalgia. I owned a 1949 KH Rigid in about 1958/9 when I was a teenager. I think I paid £75 for it from Kings of Oxford, in Brighton Sussex, England. My first ‘proper’ girlfriend and I had many good times on it during that time. I loved it and would love another, but, sadly that is now quite unrealistic.Oh, happy memories. I hope you are still enjoying yours.

  6. Great story
    I have a 1951 kH that needs restoration
    Same age as myself
    Engine and transmission are in good condition
    Only 17,909 miles done



  7. I can’t believe I’m reading this story, as I was just discussing some past history with my husband on the Ariel Red Hunter and might be able to fill in some gaps for you but should also be able to get more information off my sister who is 12 years older and possibly photographs. My Grandmother who came from England to Adelaide in 1911 or thereabouts imported the first Ariel Red Hunter into Australia, along with 2 mopeds. The Ariel was for my Dad, who was born in 1913. The bike was taken straight from it’s crate and exhibited in the Royal Adelaide Show. Dad used to race it at Selleck’s Beach south of Adelaide, what year that was I’m unsure but know there are photos of him with the leather jacket and racing cap. There are also subsequent photos of it with a sidecar with Mum on the back, with my brother an sister. I was born in 1956 and have an idea, they only got a car with my impending arrival but if you’d like to know more I can find ou.t

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