The Ariel Leader and Yamaha 500 twin articles (OBA 76) rang a few bells. As a 16 year old I learned to ride on an Ariel Leader in Dorset, England. It was my father’s and he never said a word when he found me quietly putting it away after a ride. So I adopted it and he went off and bought a very nice rigid A7. I went around all the local “Scrambles” courses following the Rickman brothers and their rivals Triss and Bryan Sharp. Triss had a satin-chromed frame alloy Tribsa with Manx (sacrilege) hubs. The courses in the south were quite fast over undulating ground, like one at Bulbarrow, Dorset.
Whilst the Leader wasn’t very fast it didn’t lose much cornering speed. The build quality in terms of the paintwork was poor. Later after punishing myself with a couple of Ariel 350s I bought a BSA 441 Victor Special from Burnetts in Southsea, Portsmouth. I hope you have some readers who can remember Burnetts. It made lots of noise in Normandy (visiting the beaches) and Brittany. The BSA ended up with me in New Zealand, where after a year I discovered second gear was made of chocolate. It was replaced by a late T100, then a Yamaha TX650A with the alloy rims, then by a 400 four, in red of course. By then I had become a much-hated MoT traffic officer, not with Police Powers but enough to do enforcement, breath tests, etc. Motorcycling for a living skating around wet and windy Wellington on 1972 tyres and shiny stainless brakes. Woo hoo.
Bikes included YR5, XS2, Suzuki 380 Triple (wonderfully reliable as a park bench) and an XS500 which seemed to be not much bigger than an RD350. When Mickey’s hand gets to 10, change up. I can’t recall any issues with it because we were only doing city hops and the odd sprint along the waterfront, but it handled well in the wet. I used to call in at the dealership, where a lot of conversation was about the TX750, which ended up with a deeper sump and oil cooler fitted. Costly remedies. We did notice the 500 had a slipper chain tensioner somewhere which was largely taken up on assembly, oops. These were the days of RD350s finishing in the top ten (I think) in the Castrol 6 Hour at Manfield, and everywhere else in our summer season. Good days, but against this the 500 saw the sunset. David Dorey Dannevirke NZ
Kevin Liggs’ TX500.