Ariel VH 500 Red Hunter




Make Model

Ariel VH 500 Red Hunter


1932 - 59


Four stroke, stroke, single cylinder, OHV, 2-valves


497 cc / 30.3 cu in
Bore x Stroke 86.4  x 85 mm (after 1936: 81.8 x 95)
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 6.0:1 (after 1954: 6.8:1)
Lubrication Dry sump with dual plunger pumps
Oil Capacity 3.4 L / 0.9 US gal
Exhaust High-set dual port exhaust


Carburetor, large bore down draught Amal


Battery 6V
Starting Kick start

Max Power

17.9 kW / 24 hp @ 6000 rpm


Final Drive Chain
Frame Semi double cradle

Front Suspension

Grider front forks

Rear Suspension

Rigid, springloaded saddle (after 1954: dual shocks)

Front Brakes


Rear Brakes

Wheels Steel, laced wire spokes
Front Rim 3.00 x 20
Rear Rim 3.25 x 19


Length: 2180 mm / 85.8 in

Width:    640 mm / 25.2 in

Dry Weight

190 kg / 418 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

14.8 L / 3.9 US gal
Braking 25 mph / 40 km/h - 0 7.3 m / 24 ft
Acceleration 0 - 60 mph / 97 km/h 10.9 sec
Top Speed 140 km/h / 87 mph
Colours Chrome and red with gold linings




"The finest single-cylinder motorcycle ever built" - "the best ever built single-cylinder motorcycle." So called by Ariel Red Hunter fans.

The spiritual father of the "red hunter" was Val Page, the chief designer at Ariel Works Ltd., unveiled its new sports model for the first time 1932 on the London Motor Show before. First bike was called VH 32 and the machine had a 24-hp single-cylinder engine with an almost square stroke ratio of 86.4 x 85. They had four overhead valves, solenoid and racing carburetor as well, new to Ariel, aand a four-speed transmission. Also new was the high-set dual port exhaust system. Because of the striking red paint that Ariel had quickly gone their nickname "Red Hunter", which was soon taken over by the factory.


By the following year, Ariel dispensed with the four-valve design in favour of a two-valve set-up with high or laid down exhaust pipes.. And there was now beside the 500 VH the models NH 350 and LH with 250cc displacement. 1935 was the next major change. Edward Turner changed the engine again with extremely long-stroke: 81 x 95 mm. Each engine had to be run according to Ariel test protocol prior to its installation.  Output now rose to 26 horsepower with a top speed of 90 miles (about 145 km/h) and with additional tuning rose to 160 km/h!

Because Ariel factory did not want to participate in racing, it was up to private riders to set up the machines themselves.