5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles: Brough Superior SS100

Top speed: 110mph, guaranteed!

In the previous article, I talked to you about Henderson Streamliner, a motorcycle that is special in every aspect. Today, I'm going to tell the story of Brough Superior SS100. You just cannot compile a list of unordinary motorcycles without including this one.

George Brough did not think of the Brough Superior trade mark himself. It arose from a discussion over some pints in a pub. A friend came in with the suggestion, "Why not call it a Brough Superior?" when George had trouble finding a proper name. George's father was not too pleased, however. "I suppose that makes mine the Brough Inferior," he said. "Superior" was adopted by George Brough as a name for his company because of his bike's superiority over all other motorcycles, including the original Brough Motorcycles manufactured by his father, William E. Brough.

Brough Superior SS100 (5)

Besides owning the company, George Brough was also a racer, a test-pilot, and he would know best how a performance motorcycle should look and behave. All Brough Superior motorcycles were high-performance machines, and most of them were custom-built to fit the needs of the customers. Seeing two bikes with the same standard configuration was a rare thing. 

In the process of manufacturing, a motorcycle was assembled two times. After all the components had been fitted, the bike was dismantled to paint or metal plate the parts. After assembling a Brough Superior SS100 a second time, it was tested before delivery. The test consisted in reaching a speed of 100 mph or more.

In the 1930s, H. D. Teague, Midlands editor for “The Motorcycle,” road tested the SS80 model. Summing up his impressions about this model after the test ride, he said that it was the “Rolls Royce of motorcycles.” George Brough, being an opportunity seeker, seized upon this phrase and used it in every advertisement and catalog. 

Read also5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles: Megola

The 1934 Brough Superior SS100 used J.A.P 996cc (J.A. Prestwich of Tottenham) or Matchless 1000-cc OHV air-cooled V-Twin engines. The power plants had a claimed power of 74 hp at 6200 rpm and could push the 440-lb bike to a guaranteed top speed of 110 mph.

Brough Superior SS100 (6)

What about the pricing of this rolling steed? Prices for this model ranged from £100 to £185 in the 1920s and 1930s. Considering that the average annual salary in Britain during the 1930s was about  £200, we can say that it was pretty expensive, and only the wealthy could afford them.

History lesson time: Maybe the best-known owner of a Brough Superior SS100 was Thomas Edward Lawrence. Doesn't ring a bell? Well, you’ve heard about him but under a different nickname: Lawrence of Arabia

Brough Superior SS100 (1).gif

Yes, Lawrence of Arabia was a keen motorcyclist and owned eight Brough Superior motorcycles at various times. His Brough Superior SS100 was called “George V.” Unfortunately, at the age of 46, a couple of months after leaving the military service, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100. He swerved to avoid two boys on their bicycles, lost control and was thrown head-first over the handlebars. He lost the final battle of his life six days later.

An interesting fact is that one of the doctors attending him was neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns, who began a long study on the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders because of head injuries. His research led to the mandatory use of safety helmets by military and civilian motorcyclists.

We can undoubtedly say that the Brough Superior SS100 it is probably one of the most famous motorcycle models of all time, unique through performances and high quality build.

See other bikes from our 5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles list

5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles: Megola

5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles: Henderson Streamliner 

5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles: Aermacchi Chimera 175

5 Not-So-Ordinary-Motorcycles: Ariel Square Four

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