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Brough Superior Motorcycle History

Brough Superior motorcycles

Brough Superior (pr. bruff su-peer-ee-or) motorcycles and motor cars were made by George Brough in his Brough Superior works on Haydn Road in Nottingham, England from 1919 to 1940. They were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles" by H. D. Teague of The Motorcycle newspaper. Approximately 3048 of 19 models were made in 21 years of production. In 2004, around 1000 still exist. T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") owned seven bikes and died from injuries sustained while crashing one. George Bernard Shaw was another among many celebrities that were enthusiastic about Brough products.

George Brough was a racer, designer, and showman. All Brough Superior motorcycles were high performance and superior quality. Most were custom built to the customers needs, and rarely were any two of the same configuration. Each motorcycle was assembled twice. The first assembly was for fitting of all components, then the motorcycle was disassembled and all parts were painted or plated as needed, then the finished parts were assembled a final time. Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was personally certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph or more prior to delivery. The SS80 model was ridden at 80 mph or more before delivery. If any motorcycle didn't meet specification, it returned to the shop for rework until it performed properly. The fit and finish was comparable to a Rolls-Royce automobile, and were among the most expensive motorcycles.

Brough Superior motorcycles have always been rare and expensive. Because of their connection with Lawrence of Arabia, their high quality of fit and finish, and their reputation for reliability and race victories, they are among the most collectible motorised vehicles. In 2007, prices ranged from $40,000 to more than $3,000,000 USD.

Lawrence of Arabia on a Brough Superior he called George V. Lawrence owned eight Brough's in all, listed below, with notes in brackets:

  • 1922 - Boa (the name was short for Boanerges)
  • 1923 - George I (the cost of £150 was more than the price of a house at the time)
  • 1924 - George II
  • 1925 - George III
  • 1926 - George IV
  • 1927 - George V (RK 4907; see photo)
  • 1929 - George VI (UL 656)
  • 1932 - George VII (GW 2275) (the bike he died on)
  • Undelivered - George VIII (still being built when Lawrence died).6

Four models are the most common:

  • SS100 (Super Sports) - Powered by J.A.P. (J. A. Prestwich of Tottenham) or Matchless 1000 cc overhead valve v-twin engines. Approximately 383 were manufactured from 1924 to 1940.
  • SS80 (Super Sports) - Powered by J.A.P. or Matchless 1000 cc sidevalve v-twin engines. Approximately 1086 were manufactured from 1922 to 1940.
  • SS680 O.H.V. (Super Sports) - Powered by J.A.P. 680 cc overhead valve v-twin. Approximately 547 were manufactured from 1926 to 1936.
  • 11.50 - Powered by J.A.P 1000 cc sidevalve v-twin engines. These were primarily designed for sidecar and police use. Approximately 308 were manufactured from 1933 to 1940.

George Brough was known for his dedication to his vehicles and customers. He, and later Albert Wallis, continued to service Brough Superiors after production ceased. Parts were made until 1969 but production of bikes never resumed after WW II.