New Brough-superior in it’s-not-pants shock, and a Husky on a roundabout.
THERE’S A SLIGHT delay before we can begin our ride on the new Brough-superior SS100. Down in the firm’s fabrication shop they’re making a new stainless steel heat shield for the exhaust. From scratch. This really is an artisan made motorcycle. But unlike most limited production hand finished hot rods this one works. Press the button on the dinky switchgear and the 88° V-twin booms into life. The clutch action is light and progressive, the short snick down into first gear is positive and crisp, and when you dial in some revs and pull away there’s no hesitation. I wasn’t expecting it to be this refined. The Brough-superior revival project was revealed at the Milan motorcycle show in 2013 when a styling exercise was shown. We photographed that machine for Bike’s February 2014 edition. Ten running prototypes have been built since. They’ve remained true to the original concept, but have gradually become closer to the production versions that’ll be assembled at a rate of one a day in Brough-superior’s base in Toulouse from this autumn. The bike that we’re riding is chassis number 10. It’s the factory’s test mule that has covered over 50,000 kilometers. There will be detail changes to the production bikes – revised routing of coolant tubes, a concealed header tank, different shock, revised wiring loom – but they’re close. The detailing is very neat, but the overall concept is clever too. There’s no real chassis, just a titanium bridge carrying the steering head that is bolted to the top of the engine and a tubular titanium subframe to support the suede covered seat and the aluminium tailpiece. Front forks are Fior girders of a similar style to those used on the BMW K1600. Front brakes are quadruple discs fitted to 18-spoke ally wheels. The overall package is stunning, partly because it’s beautifully executed and partly because, for a 21st century motorcycle, it’s unique. Nothing else looks remotely like this. Nothing rides like it either… You sit astride the slim SS100 like you are riding a torpedo. It feels long (wheelbase is 1540mm) and there’s not much give in the suspension, but the riding position is relaxed and natural. Fat handgrips are
fitted to one inch handlebars and there’s actually some steering lock (another thing missing from most craftsman built bikes). Ahead there’s a big speedo that reads to 180mph/290kph and includes a digital rev counter. This is one of the few British made components on the bike (along with the titanium fasteners) so it’s embarrassing that it’s the one thing that doesn’t work properly. ‘It will be fixed for the production bikes,’ reassures Brough-superior spokesman Albert Castaigne. Tyre sizes are an unfashionable 120/70 18 front, 160/60 18 rear and the SS100 turns really nicely on Michelin Pilot Road tyres. It’s got low input, but stable steering, so you can flick it about and do U-turns with ease. Combined with the natural forward stance riding position and the Brough has relaxed, old fashioned steering. But with more get up and go than any classic bike. In Euro3 compliant specification Brough claim the bike puts out around 100bhp at 9500rpm. Ours was fitted with loud exhausts so 105-110bhp seems realistic. There’s a Sport kit with an ECU and different air filters that makes 130bhp at lower revs. The rev limiter cuts in at 10,500rpm. In this form it’s sweet. Crisp and revvy, but with enough midrange grunt to save on gear changing effort. Without a trustworthy speedo and rev counter it’s hard to guess at performance. It feels brisk rather than ballistic, but its urge matches the attitude. I mean, if you’re going too fast people won’t see the bike. To that end the brakes are stupendous. Albert Castaigne admits the choice was aesthetic; they needed small diameter discs to get the right look. But the four disc set-up really works. Made by Berringer and developed for aeroplanes the system was refined in endurance racing. A benefit of the Fior fork and long wheelbase is there’s minimal suspension dive and real stability under savage braking, though it’s amusing to have the fork mounted screen moving with the firm suspension. That beautiful fuel tank also covers the airbox, so petrol capacity is limited, but a second under seat tank takes capacity up to 15 litres which should be good for well over 120 miles. So what’s the catch? There are two. Brough are only planning to make a bike a day, and they’ll cost the thick end of £50,000 each. If you’ve got the money this’d be a good way to spend it. 300 of the Euro3 compliant Mk1 models will be made before 2018 and half of these are already pre-sold. When they’re completed production will switch to a Euro4 compliant Mk2 with ABS and further emission controls. The Mk2 is already under development.
Impractical, uncomfy and utterly excellent
Along with the name one of the few things on the Brough that’s British 120 miles fully fuelled. That’ll do