Recreating an icon is tricky. Get it right and you’re laughing all the way to the bank – like Fiat with the 500, BMW with the Mini and VW with the Beetle. Even London buses are going back to their Routemaster DNA. Obviously motorcycles have been getting in on the act for a while – Harley, Moto Guzzi, Indian, Triumph etc – and I can’t help thinking the BMW R Nine T does a great job, which is frustrating to admit.
Brough Superior is another legendary name. But, and I don’t get to say this much any more, I’m too young to know why. Aside from the fact some bloke called Lawrence crashed one.
Meeting the Brough Superior SS100 Titanium in the flesh:
I saw the new Brough Superior SS100 Titanium at the Kempton Show, and to be honest, I barely knew it existed until then. Fortunately friend and Kempton jumble organiser Eric Patterson owns this bike. Plus the Viscount Vincent and original Brough which were also on display. It’s safe to say he knows a lot more than I do about British bikes (Despite my recent education at the London Motorcycle Museum). And none of his motorcycles are show ponies – they’re used in anger, too.
The new Brough drew lots of attention, and I took time to appreciate the design of the all-new V-twin and retro styling. The iconic tank design may be almost 100 years old, but it instantly announces what the bike is to those in the know, and the allow fasteners that straddle it are cute.
The four discs up front got lots of reaction, but then again, so did the funky forks. Even the headlamp bezel was a talking point for a number of people.
In some ways the revived Brough is similar to Kawasaki’s new H2. Whereas most brands are concentrating on providing retro flavours at a reasonable price, the Brough Superior and Kawasaki H2 are poster bikes. Machines that belong on the bedroom walls of teenagers, and garage walls of those a bit older, to fire up and re-ignite our imagination.
2014 Brough Superior SS100
The original Brough Superior motorcycles were originally created in Nottingham by George Brough from 1919-1940. Around 3,048 bikes were produced, and approximately a third of them have survived into the modern era. Although a total of 19 models existed, with Brough Sidecars and even cars produced, the bit four were the SS100 and SS80 Super Sports, the SS680 O.H.V Super Sports and the 11.50.
The problem wasn’t the quality of the bikes – it was the fact that they were the two-wheeled equivalent of a Rolls-Royce. And yet despite being the most-expensive road-going motorcycles in the world, a range of race success, and the support of celebrities including Lawrence of Arabia and playwright George Bernard Shaw, the simple fact was that the firm never turned much of a profit.
And so to 2014.
British businessman Mark Upham bought the Brough Superior name in 2008. And after producing a range of parts, the new Brough Superior has been produced, with three version available – Traditional, Full Black and Titanium.
All three feature a unique DOHC, four vale, 88 degree V-Twin which came from French bike makers Boxer Design. And the 997cc power plant was developed with Akira, the engineering firm behind Tom Sykes WSB-winning Kawasaki engines. So there’s 140hp to play with for lucky owners.
Then there’s the chassis, which cleverly combines original features and modern technology. You get a steel trellis frame and titanium sub-frame, with the engine acting as a stressed chassis member. There’s full adjustable Ohlins, an aluminium and magnesium swing-arm, and a carbon-fibre air box.
Then you spot the fork struts, which resemble the original designs of George Brough. And the deceptively small front brake, which resembles a traditional drum but houses four aluminium-ceramic discs.
All together there’s 140hp, 180kg claimed dry weight, a price of around £50,000 and more style than you can measure.