Classic Bike Profiles – A Brief History of Brough Motorcycles

Brough Superior Works made motorcycles, side cars as well as motor cars between 1919 and 1940. The Motor Cycle newspaper’s H.D. Teague dubbed them as ‘Rolls-Royce’ of Motorcycles, a label that has stayed with the marque to this day. During the twenty-one years of production about 3,048 motorcycles were made in nineteen models. A thousand of them were shown to exist in 2004, and George Bernard Shaw and T.E Lawrence were among the celebrities, who showed much interest in Brough motorcycles.George Brough was himself a racer and a designer, besides being a showman. Brough Superior motorcycles were mostly custom-made to suit the customers’ requirements, and it was hard to find two similarly configured Brough Superior machines. Every vehicle was test-ridden, after it underwent assembling two times, the first time to check the fitting, after which it was disassembled for painting or coating parts, and then re-assembled the second time. George Brough certified each product individually.The SS100 model was test ridden at 160 km/hour, and the SS80 was test-ridden at 130 km/hour, and any motorcycle that failed to meet the specifications was returned for repairs. The finished product was as good as a Rolls-Royce car and was among the costliest motorcycles. Prices ranged between £130 and £180, and could be afforded only by wealthy people. The quality finish and fit, and reputation acquired in race victories and reliability placed them among the most popular collectable motorised vehicles. Their prices ranged from 40,000 US dollars to over 3,000,000 US dollars, in the year 2007.The overhead 500, 750 side valve and 680 SV 515 were among its earliest models. Other models included the Mark I Side Valve, Mark II Standard, Mark I Overhead and Mark II Sports. The SS100 in the Super Sports series was powered by either Matchless or JAP (J A Prestwich of Tottenham) 1000cc V twin engines with overhead valves. About 383 of them were made between 1924 and 1940. About 1,086 SS80 models that used 1000 cc side valve V twin engines were manufactured between 1922 and 1940.Between 1926 and 1936, about 547 SS680 motorcycles, powered by Matchless or JAP 1000cc side valve V twin engines were manufactured. Some of the racing and show models made by Brough Superior include the Golden Dream, Straight Four Combination and Pendine. George Brough was dedicated to his products as well as his customers, and along with Albert Wallis, he continued to service the products, long after their production ceased. Spare parts were manufactured until 1969, though production of the motorcycles never recommenced after the Second World War.