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The Ariel 3 Was Classed As An Articulated Three Wheeled Moped.

by Stan Jackson

The basic design was developed in a small design company called G.L.Wallis & Son in Surbiton, Surrey.  The company consisted of three people: George Wallis, Tony Wallis and Stan Jackson.

The basic development began in 1967 with a need to design a safer delivery bicycle; the next three months were spent brainstorming every possible variation in bicycle design without achieving any new ideas.

George went on vacation to Spain and, while there, came up with the idea of a pivoting cycle that would lean like a motor cycle on cornering.

On returning from Spain we conducted a patent search and found three patents for articulated motor vehicles dated 1897, 1901 and 1905.  We sent for copies of these documents, studied them and built scale models of these plans.  After three months of pushing models around the workshop floor we found the original patent did not work, they gave a negative steering geometry that made the trike very unstable on corners.  So back to making a new model that could be set to any head angle, pivot angle and steering castor angle we wanted.

Three months later, after pushing the model around we arrived at a set up which seemed to work, so work began building a full size trike.  This was completed and ridden for many miles and proved the system worked as hoped.

The next decision was to build a motor scooter using all the experience we had gained from the bicycle.  The scooter was built; it had a 75cc engine, variable speed drive to a differential rear axle driving both rear wheels.

The scooter was a wonderful machine to ride: very stable, cornered like a dream and was almost impossible to all off; it was driven around town continuously and an article appeared in the local paper.  From this the BBC put it on their science program as a new form of transport.

During this time world patents were taken out to protect the invention, also we were contacted by BSA who were looking to get into the moped market and wanted something different to the other mopeds that were available.  An agreement was made with BSA giving them marketing rights but Wallis retained control and the patents; we then became consultants to BSA but the Ariel was designed by BSA design staff who would not take any advice or suggestions in the design of the trike.

When the first prototypes were shipped to us we were appalled at the mistakes they had made and after many trips to Birmingham some of the problems were corrected and the unit was put into production.

During this time we manufactured 12 prototype trikes, these were 98cc, two-stroke, variable speed, diff drive, 30-inch rear track and based on a Triumph Tina scooter.  These disappeared into BSA and were never heard of again.

The Ariel was a disaster: it was badly produced, unreliable, badly advertised and did not sell.

In mid-1971 BSA decided to cease production of the Ariel 3 and manufacturing ceased, but as Wallis had retained all patents and control the Japanese were contacted and were very interested.

Over the next few months Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha came to visit each bringing their own engineers to test drive and discuss the design.

A trade agreement was reached with Honda and all designs and prototypes were shipped to Japan where they said they would not have a market for this product till 1983.

Honda marketed the Honda GIRO in Japan in 1984, also a commercial delivery trike was sold in Japan.

Maybe this letter clarifies the Ariel 3 saga; also, in answer to some comments, I never fell off whilst demonstrating any of the trikes to any prospective buyer.

Stan Jackson

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