Brough Superior SS100 from Relaunched Classic Brand
Mark Upham, the proprietor of British Only, an Austrian classic spare British motorcycle parts company, has owned the Brough Superior marque since 2008, and has been building brand new examples of the iconic 1920s-1930s SS100 model.
Now, Upham has decided to relaunch Brough Superior with a modern range of high-performance, high-quality, and inevitably high-priced models costing €50,000, and employing advanced technology, high-class materials, and radical design.
“It happened almost accidentally,” Upham says of the decision. “I’d been invited to America in 2007 to be a judge at the Legend of the Motorcycle [International] Concours d’Elegance at Half Moon Bay in California. Bonhams were going to auction the rights to the Brough Superior marque in their sale there, but in the end it was withdrawn due to trademark issues in the USA. But, that gave me the green light to go after it, and after 11 months of negotiation we bought the company from the Card family in England to save it from whatever fate it might have had in the hands of other people.
“In 2009, I went around England to find out the possibilities of being able to produce a new Brough Superior motorcycle in the UK, but I went up so many blind alleys it was very disappointing. I managed to find every single way not to be able to design and make it in England!
“But, in July 2013, you [the author] introduced me to iconic French designer Thierry Henriette [owner of Boxer Design in Toulouse], which was very fortunate, because I am a bit of a Francophile. At the time I met Thierry, I had a house in France, as well as in Austria. There was an immediate spark when we met each other, and of course it helped that he already knew Brough Superior and admired the brand, which not everyone outside Britain might do without being keen on vintage bikes. So, we forged an agreement whereby he would design and create a modern-day motorcycle which in my opinion completely embodies the spirit of the marque.”
The SS100 is powered by a specially developed liquid- cooled 88-degree V-twin engine produced to Boxer’s design by Akira Technologies in Bayonne, France—builders of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R motors which powered Tom Sykes to the 2013 World Superbike Championship crown, as well as his teammate Jonathan Rea’s blistering domination of the WSBK series in 2015.
Upham had intended to use an air-cooled motor for the new SS100, but was persuaded otherwise. “I had my own vision of how I thought it should be done,” Upham admits, “but I now understand why it can’t be done like that. One of the things I was hoping for was air-cooling, but I realize now that’s not possible for homologation today.”
“I think George Brough would be very pleased to see the diligence and air that’s been invested in creating something that speaks to his design ethos. Many people aren’t aware that one of his last prototypes was a 90-degree V-twin with his own engine–30 years before Ducati! The first design that Thierry showed to me just clicked—one of George Brough’s last bikes was a 90-degree V-twin, and this is 88 degrees.
“George Brough tried to get Brough Superior going again after the war, and one of the things he did was to go to Bonneville in 1948, though sadly without success. Six decades later, we went there and set some records, so we’ve just taken up where George Brough left off in continuing the history of Brough Superior.
“What matters most is the quality and character of the motorcycle, and the future for Brough Superior is international. In speaking with Thierry Henriette, we see the design element of Brough Superior staying in the Toulouse area, with the prototyping of future new models conducted here, as it works well.
“After the first 300 or so limited edition SS100 motorcycles are made, it would be my wish to return to Nottingham for further Brough Superior production. The heritage of our brand is UK- based, and we hope to come back to Britain, sooner rather than later. But, in order to get production up and running smoothly, and to introduce the inevitable detail improvements we’ll want to make to a 100-percent new motorcycle like this one, we had to start production in France, and I believe our Entente Cordiale has produced an extremely desirable motorcycle. Thierry Henriette has completely captured the essence of the vintage era Brough Superior in creating its modern day successor.
“Brough Superior is a prestige marque, and just as George Brough did when he founded the company, every motorcycle we construct today will be built to the specific instructions of each customer, and tailored to suit his or her needs, just like a bespoke suit or haute couture dress. Our customers are entitled to expect only the very best, and that’s what we’ll be delivering to them.”
The freezer section of motorcycling’s history store is stacked high with defunct brands from all our two-wheeled yesterdays— but just once in a while one gets defrosted, to be repackaged in a modern context to restore it to today’s marketplace. Triumph, MV Agusta, Norton, Horex and Indian are just some of the born-again brands that have lately been resurrected with varying degrees of success. Now it is the turn of the one-time so-called Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles, Brough Superior, and its journey of renaissance along the highways of the world is about to begin with production of the born again SS100.
Photography by Eric Corlay
Story from Spring 2016 issue of Ultimate MotorCycling.
Brough Superior SS100 Specs:
- ENGINE: Liquid-cooled DOHC 88-degree V-twin w/ composite chain/gear cam drive
- BORE X STROKE: 94 x 71.8mm
- DISPLACEMENT: 997cc
- COMPRESSION RATIO: 11:1
- FUELING: EFI w/ Synerject ECU and two 50mm Synerject throttle bodies, each with a single injector
- OUTPUT: 127 hp @ 7800 rpm; 89 ft/lbs @ 6400 rpm
- GEARBOX: 6-speed CIMA
- FRAME: Machined titanium frame w/ fabricated titanium subframe
- SUSPENSION: Front: Hossack/Fior-type cast aluminum wishbone fork with twin articulated titanium triangular links; Öhlins shock
- SUSPENSION Rear: Cast aluminum swingarm pivoting in engine crankcases w/ Öhlins shock
- WHEELS: CNC-machined forged aluminum
- TIRES: Front: 120/70-18 Dunlop Rear: 160/60-18 Dunlop
- BRAKES: Front: 230mm Beringer 4D stainless steel discs w/ Beringer radial calipers; Rear: 230mm Beringer 4D stainless steel disc w/ Beringer caliper
- Dry Weight: 400 lbs.