The Legend Returns

Story by Alan Cathcart// Photos by Kyoichi Nakamura
November 1 2015

A renaissance for histories most exclusive marque

The freezer section of motorcycling’s history store is stacked high with defunct brands from all our two-wheeled yesterdays. Just once in a while, though, one gets defrosted to be repackaged in a modern context and restored to today’s marketplace. Triumph, MV Agusta, Norton, Horex and now of course Indian are just some of the born-again brands that have lately been resurrected with varying degrees of success, but now it’s 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 the production of the born-again SS100.

test ride Brough SuperiorBrough Superior, founded in 1919, was the manufacturer of the world’s fastest, most desirable and most exclusive motorcycles in the pre-WWII era, of which only 3000 were made before the company ceased production in 1940, with the advent of war. Holder of the World Land Speed Record for motorcycles for much of its 21 years of existence, Brough Superior swiftly built a formidable reputation for itself under the direction of its founder, George Brough, based on a winning combination of unrivalled performance, dazzling looks, competition success and clever marketing.

Brough did not resume producing motorcycles after the war ended, but that’s about to change under the direction of its present owner, Mark Upham, the Austrian-based Brit who acquired the company in 2008, and since then has been building brand new examples of the iconic 1920s-1930s SS100 model. This was in many ways the first true Superbike, and in the vintage era, became the motorcycle of choice for cognoscenti of speed. These included the legendary T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”), who owned seven Broughs in succession before he sadly died riding one in 1935. Upham is back-ordered in manufacture of his vintage-style SS100 recreations, which are authentic down to the smallest detail – but may be ordered with the added benefit of electric start!


manufacturing Brough SuperiorBut now, a 21st-century version of the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale has resulted in the Brough Superior marque being truly reborn, with production about to commence in France of the first new high-performance streetbike in 75 years to carry the famous name. Upham has decided to relaunch Brough Superior with a modern range of high-performance, high-quality and inevitably high-priced models costing 50,000 euro, and employing advanced technology, high-class materials and radical design. To do so, he’s collaborating with iconic French designer Thierry Henriette, owner of Boxer Design in Toulouse, to create the all-new SS100, which made its public debut at the 2013 Milan show to mark the 90th anniversary of the model’s introduction. 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 ZX-10R motors that powered Tom Sykes to the 2013 World Superbike Championship crown, as well as his teammate Jonathan Rea’s blistering domination of the WSBK series this year – production of the all-new Brough Superior SS100 is planned to commence very shortly, with the first 10 hand-built motorcycles scheduled to be delivered to their lucky owners before the end of this year.

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