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Text: Luís Cardoso

Photos: web

T. E. Lawrence was the brand's greatest ambassador!

William E. Brough manufactured BROUGH utility motorcycles in Nottingham between 1908 and 1926.

His son, George Brough was a rider, designer and showman, at one point, in disagreement with his father's industrial policy, he began a solo journey with the ambition of producing luxury motorcycles!

Then, in a prefabricated building also located in Nottingham, he created his factory, in 1919, to produce the BROUGH SUPERIOR brand.

1922, BROUGH 500cc flat twin, a model produced by William

George's objective was to propose luxurious models with high quality components and superior performance, the ROLLS-ROYCE of motorcycles!

This nickname was created by the editor of The Motorcycle magazine, when, in the Midlands, he tested the first SS80 model.

The first BROUGH SUPERIOR became available at the beginning of 1921, it had a 998cc ohv JAP engine specially designed for this motorcycle and a 3-speed STURMEY-ARCHER gearbox, number plates, horn, headlights and generator, the extensive nickel plating of the parts provided a good image also serving as corrosion prevention!


While his father, William, manufactured almost 100% of the motorcycles he produced, including the engine, George chose to buy components from different suppliers, thus trying to increase quality and positioning himself more as a designer, assembler and marketeer, some detractors stated that the success of the brand's image owes more to George's commercial capacity and riding skills than to the intrinsic quality of the motorcycles he produced.

The majority of the 3,048 motorcycles produced over 22 years were built to detailed specifications customized by the customer, it is rare to find two with the same exact configuration.

Each motorcycle was assembled twice, the first assembly was intended to fit all the components, then it was disassembled and all parts painted or nickel-plated, finally, the finished parts were definitively assembled, each motorcycle was tested to ensure that it worked according to the specifications, only then was it personally certified by George Brough, the SS100 was tested at 160 km/h or more before delivery, the SS80 was tested at 130 km/h or more before delivery, in case they did not pass this test, they were returned to production to be reassembled until they performed according to specifications.

Built by Freddie Dixon and BROUGH SUPERIOR Works, this motorcycle achieved the title of “Fastest in the world”, in 1929, Dixon, a successful motorcycle and automobile racer, used it to break the record for the first sidecar to surpass the 160 km/h mark at Brooklands. Later, in Arpajon, France, he tried to win the record, solo, for “Fastest in the World”, he reached around 209 km/h, but the mark was not validated because he was unable to make the return, even so, Bert LeVack took the bike back to Arpajon and then successfully achieved the record of 208 km/h. Also George Brough, raced this bike regularly, winning races across the country.

These four models represent a large part of the production, most were built to order with various customizations:

  • SS100 (Super Sports), engine developed by JAP or V-twin MATCHLESS engines of 1000 cc ohv, around 383 units were manufactured between 1924 and 1940;

  • SS80 (Super Sports), engine developed by JAP or 1,000 cc side valve V-twin engines, around 1,086 units were manufactured between 1922 and 1940;

  • 680 OHV, engine developed by JAP ohv V-twin of 680 cc, around 547 units were manufactured between 1926 and 1936;

  • 11.50, 1096 cc JAP engine with 60° V-twin side valve, was designed mainly for police and/or sidecar use, around 308 units were manufactured between 1933 and 1940.

Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) became the great promoter of this brand, he owned eight BROUGH SUPERIOR, the ninth was in production at the time of his tragic death, he died in a road accident at the controls of the last one he acquired, he nicknamed the motorcycles after kings, was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat and writer, he became well known for his role in the Arab Revolt (1916–1918) and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign (1915–1918) against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War II, the breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, the title used for the 1962 film based on his wartime activities.

The accident that killed him, as a result of the injuries he suffered to his head, due to his popularity, led to an in-depth investigation that would result in the conclusion of the need for motorcyclists to use protective helmets!

BROUGH SUPERIOR 11.50 sidecar

In 1940, World War II put an end to production and the factory became involved in the war effort, finishing crankshafts for ROLLS-ROYCE Merlin engines.

After the end of hostilities there were no suitable engines available so the company was disbanded, in 2004 there were still around 1,000 BROUGH SUPERIOR motorcycles in existence.

Currently, a French company, Boxer Design, holds the rights to use the brand and produces, in a small series, models with a revivalist aesthetic inspired by the original SS100.

The inseparable Lawrence of Arabia and BROUGH SUPERIOR



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