|Impressive, beautiful, and certainly unusual. The Brough Superior Austin '4'|
But some collectors are different, and we're lucky (as in 'we' who care about how our favored cultural treasures are cared for) to find those who not only share their treasures via museum shows and track days, but can be seen near their homes on fair days, stretching ancient chains or belts through their favorite bends, a tell-tale grin on their faces. At the top of the heap are connoiseurs who allow guests to ride their machines as well! And these the Vintagent holds dear in his heart, for they allow him to experience in the metal the rarest and most intriguing of machinery ever produced for a rider to sit astride, to explore the exquisite countryside.
|An elegant beast from every angle, even with the doubled-up wheels!|
|The BS-Austin '4'; the perfect thing for a winding country road...|
|The twin Amal carbs make a beautiful music for the passenger's ears, being only a foot away!|
|Not a bad ride for the passenger, either!|
|As mentioned, the carbs are close to the passenger's ears!|
|The Austin engine is uprated with a 'sports' cylinder head in aluminum, and twin carbs.|
It was clear from the get-go that Lord Austin's product had been breathed upon, for the BS has life and strength, and rapidly reaches a 50mph cruising speed, at which point the valves are singing merrily, the intakes making a pleasant whistle, the gearbox an unobtrusive whine, and the outfit as a whole feels solid as a rock and indefatigable. And remarkably calm. Here's the view from the chair; enjoy the ride:
So, now it's my turn. First, familiarize self with gearchange, which is a car shift turned to face forward - a strange pattern, but it makes sense once the beast is underway. Second, familiarize myself the the brakes... and I know from experience that the front is no 'stopper' - totally useless. The rear brake with 'BS' cast into the pedal is more reassuring, and hauls the heavy (700lbs?) four-wheeler down rapidly. Third, where the hell is the throttle? Indian-style, it's on the left 'bar, which will take a moment of getting used to, especially as the clutch lever is next to it. Luckily, there's a foot clutch as well, which becomes my preferred device - too akward to feather the clutch and open the throttle with one hand.
And suddenly, all the disparate parts come together and we're underway, the smooth purr of the engine pushing the plot forward rapidly. Not fast mind you, but rapid, and I for one have never trusted 'fast' outfits... they seem like a good way to finish upside-down in a ditch! How do I know that, you ask... well don't.
Curious about the ride? Take a spin yourself:
I can say, hand on heart, that this is the nicest motorcycle pulling a sidecar that I've ever ridden, and I've ridden all manner of outfits; German, English, Yank, Jap. There is a feeling of tireless solidity about the machine, the engine just feels very right, the handling is, well, Superior. George Brough was a great advocate and rider of sidecar machines, and all of his bikes work well pulling a mate, but this one is better. I'm not sure one can pinpoint exactly what makes it so good, but it is, for all of the novelty and rarity, an incredibly relaxing motorcycle to ride. There's no point in hurrying, as the ride itself is the point, and I think I just called this Brough Superior a Zen motorcycle. My expectations were completely overturned... unlike the outfit...
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