A very superior Brough. Impressive new bike brings back a revered name. Words Marc Potter. Images Gareth Harford. / #Brough-Superior
Brough Superior. The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles. The chisel-jawed granddaddy hero of great British classic bikes, and Lawrence of Arabia’s steed of choice. Legendary is an over-used word, but it certainly applies to this great British marque.
You can’t go to a Bonhams auction without another Brough making auction history. The last one, a 1938 BS4, broke the record for a British motorcycle sold at auction, bringing an impressive £330,000 in April 2016. Small fry for cars, but big news in bikes.
A new motorcycle hasn’t rolled through Brough factory gates since 1940, when the doors of the Haydn Road factory in Nottingham closed for the last time. Until now, that is – because Brough Superior’s SS100 is back. The name was bought by eccentric British businessman Mark Upham back in 2008, and this month the first bikes are rolling off the production line in a new factory not in Nottingham but in Toulouse, France.
The new SS100 defies its modern retro class by delivering a package that proves very surprising when you open the throttle wide. It uses an all-new and Brough-bespoke engine, a 997cc, 88-degree V-twin which produces 130bhp with the Sport pipes, ECU and air filter fitted to our test hack.
We say ‘hack’ because the prototype pictured has done 50,000km of testing, but it’s essentially the same to ride as the production bikes apart from a few details. This prototype bike is a bit rough around the edges, but the production examples are clearly works of art and finished every bit as well as a ‘Rolls-Royce of Motorcycling’ should be.
The design nods to the past with a strong stride to the future, and comes complete with a hand-built aluminium tank which takes a day to make. The frame is made from titanium and there’s a version of the Fiori front fork system constructed from a combination of billet, magnesium and titanium. No expense is spared, and neither should it be given the bike’s £50,000 price tag at current exchange rates.
But this bike isn’t just about style and craftsmanship. It works, too. The chassis has that rare combination of quick steering but stability in fast corners, despite any hesitation you may have about that funny front end. On the open roads the bike is torquey – there’s a hefty 88.5lb ft of torque. The four-disc Beringer calipers are designed to look like the original Brough Superior SS100’s drums and are immensely powerful. The SS100 works fluidly and far better than you would ever expect from a firm’s first attempt at a motorcycle.
It may be built in France from European and US components, but the Brough still gives off a strong British vibe. George Brough and his friend, Lawrence of Arabia, would be proud.
Above and below. Speedometer look is inspired by original 5in Smiths instrument but contains a modern information screen; 130bhp V-twin should give ‘adequate’ performance.