1961 Ariel Golden Arrow | The Bike That Changed My Life

Rider: Peter Starr
Then: Triumph factory worker and aspiring roadracer
Now: Celebrated filmmaker best known for Take It To The Limit

"It was 1961 and I had been working at the original Triumph factory in Meriden for almost a year when I could first afford to buy a motorcycle. In those days I was making around $15 per week and living at home with my parents. I already owned a small car-a 1938 Standard Flying 9-which my parents thought would be safer, but the "call to ride" was strong. A good, affordable performer at that time that attracted my eye was the Ariel Golden Arrow-a 250cc two-stroke twin made by Triumph's sister company. I had thoughts about racing and anticipated that this would be a good beginner bike I could take production racing, so I bought one.

"The young Mike Hailwood was already a hero of mine from watching him race at Mallory Park and other local roadrace tracks where he'd cleaned up on a variety of small bikes from Ducatis to Mondials. His millionaire father Stan owned Kings of Oxford-a very large dealership in those days-so that is where I went to buy the Ariel. Who said racing doesn't influence purchasing decisions? Two street crashes from over-enthusiasm and insufficient skills took me off the street and onto the racetrack. The Ariel was a great teacher and gave me two seasons to hone my racing skills before moving up to the international classes. It was relatively cheap, incredibly stable and when fettled correctly, provided a surprisingly good turn of speed. This modest bike got me into racing, which brought me to America, and eventually gave birth to my motorcycle filmmaking career. I guess you could say the Ariel Golden Arrow changed my life."

ADVERTISEMENT