BROUGH AND READY

The Brough Su­pe­rior has been a long time com­ing, but it’s alive and kick­ing now and it’s a might­ily im­pres­sive ma­chine. MCN’S exclusive ride around stun­ning French roads re­vealed just how well thought-out the re­born SS100 is. The firm have al­ready sold a

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - ANDY DOWNES SE­NIOR RE­PORTER andy.downes@ mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

It’s easy to ap­proach the Brough Su­pe­rior SS100 with a large dose of scep­ti­cism. Af­ter all, we’ve seen so many small bike firms come and go, of­ten leav­ing a trail of debt and up­set sup­pli­ers in their wake. The trail of woe in­cludes big names and lesser known brands brought back to life by poorly-fi­nanced and ill-re­searched duds that get no fur­ther than the con­cept stage or, should they make it into pro­duc­tion, only make it into the hands of a few be­fore the whole firm col­lapses. ‘How do you turn a big pile of money into a small pile?’ goes the old ques­tion. ‘Buy a mo­tor­cy­cle com­pany,’ comes the an­swer.

Yet, here we are, stand­ing on a highly pol­ished floor in­side an im­mac­u­late work­shop on a very smart in­dus­trial park on the out­skirts of Toulouse in south­ern France. There’s a quiet buzz of ef­fi­cient ac­tiv­ity and, cen­tre stage, five ac­tual bikes un­der Brough Su­pe­rior cov­ers along­side five other pro­to­types. Al­ready the story feels very dif­fer­ent to the norm.

We are shown the bike MCN will be rid­ing to­day. It’s still at the prototype stage and cer­tain el­e­ments will change when pro­duc­tion of the first 300 lim­ited edi­tion mod­els be­gins in June.

Changes will start with mi­nor de­tails such as the ex­haust hang­ers, but also take in ma­jor el­e­ments in­clud­ing the coolant hoses which have been re-en­gi­neered to run up un­der the air­box and fuel tank for a neater look. The switchgear will be changed for cast al­loy rather than the tem­po­rary Har­ley-david­son items in use to­day and the han­dle­bar top yoke will be cut from bil­let. The side­stand, mean­while, will get a far bet­ter design with a lug on the end to make rais­ing or low­er­ing it more straight­for­ward. The Smiths clocks are gain­ing a back­lit nee­dle and clearer LCD in­for­ma­tion from the small in­te­gral screen and the tiny indi­ca­tors on this bike aren’t pro­duc­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tion. All of these changes are in the fi­nal stages of be­ing fixed be­fore full pro­duc­tion be­gins in June.

Our prototype is close, though, and pretty much bang-on what own­ers will be get­ting in sum­mer. I take in the stun­ning, hand-crafted alu­minium fuel tank, which is welded from five sec­tions on site along with the sleek tail­piece. The cast alu­minium Fior fork design is star­tlingly new, too, and a world away from the usual twin con­ven­tional forks, so too the di­a­mond­cut cast alu­minium wheels, which are dis­tinc­tive and dif­fer­ent.

But it’s the 997cc wa­ter- cooled V-twin that re­ally grabs my at­ten­tion. While so many other small firms opt for an ‘off-the-shelf’ mo­tor from one of the many global sup­pli­ers, Brough Su­pe­rior in­sisted this bike could only ex­ist if they de­vel­oped their own mo­tor. Work on the en­gine has been done by Akira En­gi­neer­ing, the same com­pany that builds the fac­tory Kawasaki en­gines for World Su­per­bike cham­pi­ons Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea. And its mo­ment of truth has ar­rived.

When I fire it up the V-twin set­tles to an even idle. The slick gear­box en­gages eas­ily and the smooth clutch means get­ting off from a stand­still is all as easy as it should be. This is al­ready promis­ing.

Head­ing out into the French coun­try­side on this chilly but sunny morn­ing re­veals a bike that feels as if it has come from a ma­jor man­u­fac­turer. The mo­tor is smooth – tractable yet still will­ing to rev out. The tacho on this prototype isn’t work­ing so it’s im­pos­si­ble to know the ac­tual revs at play but it’s only when I leave it in too high a gear that pis­ton slap starts to be­come a prob­lem.

Once the speed in­creases a lit­tle I have to keep my­self from star­ing at the mes­meris­ing way the front light and small wind­screen are bob­bing up and down with the front Fior fork as it deals with road im­per­fec­tions. It’s some­thing that is so out of the or­di­nary it takes my

‘Brough Su­pe­rior in­sisted this ma­chine could only ex­ist if they de­vel­oped their own en­gine’

mind off the ride for a few min­utes. Out on flow­ing roads the Brough starts to get more into its stride and I’m al­ready think­ing the SS100 would be per­fectly suited to a long blast across the Bri­tish coun­try­side on a lovely sum­mer’s day. It’s very re­lax­ing and, with 100bhp and a kerb­weight of around 205kg, the per­for­mance is still po­tent enough for it to feel fast.

That un­usual sus­pen­sion sys­tem con­trib­utes to a flat, firm rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Weirdly the front end rises when you ac­cel­er­ate but barely dives at all when you brake hard, which ex­ac­er­bates the ef­fect of per­haps the only ma­jor flaw on the bike, which is fiercely un-pro­gres­sive front brakes. They are a lit­tle scary at first and it takes an un­be­liev­ably gen­tle touch to avoid over-brak­ing. We men­tioned this af­ter the first out­ing and the Brough engi­neers changed the mas­ter cylin­der and pis­ton to soften the brak­ing force and on a brief test ride the fol­low­ing morn­ing it proved to be a lot bet­ter.

Cruis­ing at 70mph is easy. The wind­blast is no worse than any other naked bike, and while there is no­tice­able weight thrown onto my wrists from the rid­ing po­si­tion, I re­main pretty com­fort­able. I did have reser­va­tions about the shape of the seat when I first sat on the SS100 but once up and mov­ing with my feet on the pegs the ride is com­fort­able and en­gag­ing.

There are go­ing to be lots of peo­ple who will sniff at the thought of any bike be­ing ‘worth’ £50,000, and while a rel­a­tively small per­cent­age of rid­ers will have the avail­able cash to buy one of the new Broughs, I think that’s miss­ing the point. The world is a bet­ter place for bikes like the Brough Su­pe­rior SS100 ex­ist­ing. The his­toric brand is in Bri­tish hands and from our ride on a prototype it would ap­pear things are most cer­tainly head­ing the in the right di­rec­tion.

BRIT SPE­CIAL Cel­e­brat­ing the

best Bri­tish bikes and

rid­ers of 2016

Faith­ful to the old design and yet thor­oughly mod­ern – MCN tests the new SS100

Hand­some light sits on the Fior-style front end Built by Beringer, the brakes are still be­ing re­fined The fin­ished top yoke will be ma­chined from bil­let The tank holds 11 litres with five un­der the seat

1

THE LONG VIEW

Gor­geous fuel tank

Per­for­mance This isn’t about horse­power but the avail­able 100bhp in fully road-le­gal spec is more than

enough to have fun

Hand crafted from five sec­tions of alu­minium on site in Toulouse by one man who does all of the weld­ing, metal rolling and grind­ing be­fore the com­pleted tanks with a ca­pac­ity of 11 litres are handed to another staff mem­ber who does the pol­ish­ing. A sec­ondary tank hold­ing five litres sits un­der

the seat.

De­tails Hand-built and be­spoke parts can be seen all over this bike. The fuel tank is a

thing of beauty

2

Aero­space tech­nol­ogy

Big price

There are three ver­sions to choose from: Tra­di­tional, Full Black and Ti­ta­nium. The Ti­ta­nium ver­sion has a ti­ta­nium frame which is welded on site in an ar­gon gas en­vi­ron­ment to keep the welds clean. Lo­cal Toulouse com­pany Air­bus means the area is re­plete with sup­pli­ers able

to help. There are only go­ing to be 300 of the first lim­ited edi­tion bike at

£60,000 each in the UK

3

Fully road-le­gal

The SS100 has passed Euro3 ho­molo­ga­tion reg­u­la­tions which will al­low the com­pany to sell the first 300 be­fore the end of 2017. De­vel­op­ment has al­ready be­gun to get a re-worked ver­sion of the bike ready to pass much stricter Euro4 reg­u­la­tions.

4

Brough’s own en­gine

Ef­fort by Akira En­gi­neer­ing over the past two years has been in­tense but the re­sult is a lovely 997cc, wa­ter­cooled 88 de­gree V-twin with 100bhp in fully ho­molo­gated trim or 130bhp

in ‘ track’ set­ting. In­ter­nally the en­gine is thor­oughly mod­ern but the cas­ings suit the over­all

look of the Brough.

Prototype is wear­ing Har­ley switchgear At­ten­tion to de­tail is all you’d ex­pect Yes it’s ex­pen­sive but a few lucky folks will buy into some­thing very spe­cial

5 Fior fork front sus­pen­sion

The most stand-out el­e­ment is the Fior style fork at the front which works with a piv­ot­ing sys­tem and an Öh­lins shock ab­sorber to give an usu­ally flat ride and han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tic. The front end rises un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion but barely dives at all un­der

brak­ing.

6

Stop­ping power The brakes have been de­signed and built by French com­pany Beringer and were too fierce dur­ing our ini­tial test ride. Brough are work­ing to in­crease the ini­tial pro­gres­sive feel through the lever ready for when full pro­duc­tion

be­gins in the sum­mer.

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