Brough Superior SS80 was restored 3000 miles ago by BS-guru Tony Cripps, and kept by a careful owner, to whom proper function was paramount. The result is a motorcycle which starts easily, doesn't drag its clutch in traffic, and is smooth as pudding.
|The big finned covers hide the valve stems, and are quickly removed to adjust the valves|
|Twin tank fillers, long levers, wide 'bars, Monarch forks, Lucas Magdyno (which worked), 8" Enfield front brake (which didn't), big 8" Lucas headlamp|
Brough Superiors reflected the life and personality of the man who made them; George Brough in the 1920s was a demon rider and serious moto-dandy, building the motorcycles he most wanted, which couldn't be found elsewhere in 1919, when he embarked on Superiority. Until other makers began copying the B-S pattern (bulbous-nose saddle tanks, long chassis, big v-twin engine), the Brough was alone at the top of the heap, and in terms of its quality of finish, remained there until the end of production (nominally 1940, although a very few Broughs were assembled during the war, and after, from broken machines or old stock). But, after a few nasty spills in his sprinting days (51 wins out of 52 starts, plus FTD in his last race while sliding on his backside, requiring skin grafts and 8 months in hospital), George fully supported other's efforts at taking major speed records with very special Broughs, but the motorcycles he sold lost their athletic edge... and began to gain weight.
|The cast-alloy primary case dripped a little oil, but not on my shoes. Note the Harold 'Oily' Karslake-designed prop stand|
|Big Burgess silencer, twin leather-front toolboxes, long pivoting footrests and sprung saddle for a friend. The postwar Lucas taillamp replaces the original 'MT110' type, but is visible in traffic, and includes a stop light.|
Sturmey-Archer/Norton gearbox into 1st, without a clunk or other drama (try that on your new BMW...), and the engine rumbles and give off hints at hidden power, while staying pleasantly smooth, and building up speed quickly. Broughs use close-ratio gears (same as a Norton Inter, actually), which means a low 1st, a big gap to second, and the other two not far off. On a big twin with plenty of torque, this doesn't make sense, as there's no need to play 'tunes' on a Brough gearbox, just stick it in a high gear and let the engine do the talking. But, it was the best gearbox available (just ask any Vincent 'A' twin owner their opinion of the Burman 'box and clutch), and had a very 'sporty' spec.
|Yes, its possible to ride a Brough in modern London traffic|
This motorcycle was kindly loaned by the Gauntlett Gallery, and is currently for sale; check here for details.