It down’

Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features - By Andy Downes SE­NIOR NEWS RE­PORTER

‘‘ If it catches fire when you start it just lay the bike down on the right-hand side and let the petrol in the carbs burn off. It should be fine, but that’s why we turn the petrol back off once the carbs are primed.”

These words are spo­ken calmly by Mark Upham, CEO of the Brough Su­pe­rior com­pany of to­day and the owner of the Brough Su­pe­rior SS100 on loan to MCN. We’ve in­sured it for a con­ser­va­tive £250,000, I hope fire cover is part of the pol­icy.

This isn’t the kind of pre-rid­ing drill I’m used to. Nor­mally get­ting to grips with rid­ing un­fa­mil­iar bikes means grasp­ing an un­der­stand­ing of rider modes, how to ad­just the brake lever and get­ting com­fort­able, rather than the risk of self-im­mo­la­tion by fire. But Brough Su­pe­rior mo­tor­cy­cles are any­thing but nor­mal. It’s a brand that be­came known as the Rolls-royce of mo­tor­cy­cles and the prices of these vin­tage slices of mo­tor­cy­cling his­tory are reach­ing ever-higher fig­ures. In fact, they’re worth more than the lux­ury cars they sought to best.

I’m dry mouthed and itchy eyed, the last three nights of worry-dis­turbed sleep have left me drained. My brain has been fren­zied about the forth­com­ing ride. It’s a Brough bloody Su­pe­rior SS100. No one gets to ride a Brough Su­pe­rior. The mix­ture of ex­cite­ment and trep­i­da­tion has pro­duced a weird drug that’s act­ing on my synapses.

Mark kick­starts the bike for me; ex­pertly jug­gling the ig­ni­tion tim­ing and fuel mix­ture to en­sure it erupts into life with noth­ing more fiery than a tiny puff of smoke from the carbs, and some al­most in­stant drips of oil ap­pear on the floor be­neath the bike. It’s sup­posed to do that. To mod­ern rid­ers though, this to­tal-loss oil lu­bri­ca­tion sys­tem is some­thing ut­terly alien, and you can’t help but feel con­cern.

“Take your time, feel the way it wants to move,” says Mark. “It’s only a bloody mo­tor­cy­cle,” he says. “Go with it, let it move about a bit and be pre­pared for it to skip about on the road.”

I swing my leg over and set­tle into the sprung seat. I bounce a lit­tle and then reach for the levers. “Don’t bother with the front brake. It’s al­most use­less,” he says. I nod silently. “The most im­por­tant thing is to learn to feel the way the clutch works.” An­other nod.

“Don’t worry about first or sec­ond gear yet. Pull off in third.” Nod.

The bike is warmed through. An off-beat pulse with an ex­haust note that has a ran­domly oc­cur­ring ex­tra sound en­sconced some­where in the chuff­ing from the V-twin’s fish­tail pipes; it’s rem­i­nis­cent of a tin drum ping­ing. I look down and watch the mes­meris­ing bal­let of valve pushrods and springs danc­ing up and down. The hand-shifter looks alarm­ingly close to those moving parts – I’ll need to look down when reach­ing for it to en­sure that I don’t trap my fin­ger­tips in the valve train. The smell of burn­ing oil and hot metal is in­tox­i­cat­ing.

There’s a clutch and front brake lever in front of me as is nor­mal on any mod­ern mo­tor­cy­cle but there’s also a choke lever on the left and the ig­ni­tion tim­ing lever on the right-hand bar. I’m

‘We’ve in­sured it for £250,000. I hope fire cover is part of the pol­icy’

told to leave both of these well alone now the en­gine is warmed through. There’s also a de­com­pres­sion lever on the end of the left han­dle­bar, which is ef­fec­tively a kill switch but also fa­cil­i­tates kick­start­ing the en­gine. My brain is fizzing with fear and an­tic­i­pa­tion. £250,000. I’m brick­ing it.

Just in front is the new Brough Su­pe­rior SS100; an evolved ver­sion of the all-new 2016 model that MCN tested a cou­ple of months ago. Now we are go­ing to see how the new bike stacks up against its leg­endary fore­bear. Mark climbs onto the new bike, thumbs the starter but­ton and the V-twin thrums in­stantly into life. I feel a pang of jeal­ously, it def­i­nitely doesn’t look like that one’s go­ing to catch fire, while I still have vi­sions of step­ping off a burn­ing quar­ter of a mil­lion quid.

I rode a pre-pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the all-new Brough Su­pe­rior SS100 back in Fe­bru­ary and the bike you see here is an evo­lu­tion of that ma­chine. The new SS100 uses a be­spoke 999cc wa­ter­cooled V-twin and cra­dles it in a bike that’s styled in homage to the golden era of the orig­i­nal. It’s also beau­ti­fully en­gi­neered, and while it will cost a rather hefty £45,700 it does rep­re­sent the re­birth of Brough Su­pe­rior.

This is ac­tu­ally the same bike I rode ear­lier in the year but there have been a se­ries of en­gi­neer­ing changes since then. The en­gine has been changed for one that has cov­ered more than 45,000

we are away it be­comes clear what the fuss is all about. This isn’t a hard bike to ride at all; it’s as if it wants to help you. The torque from that long-stroke en­gine means it can pull off in third gear with no drama at all. It’s com­fort­able and while the han­dling is rather less con­vinc­ing than I had hoped, you set your pace ac­cord­ingly. I find a nice re­laxed pace at around 50 to 60mph and try to set­tle my nerves and en­joy the ride, the French coun­try­side waft­ing past in a mel­low haze of burn­ing oil and soft me­chan­i­cal clat­ter. This is amaz­ing, un­fa­mil­iar, scary, lib­er­at­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing all at the same time. It’s hard to imag­ine how the guar­an­teed 100mph these bikes did in their hey­day would have felt on the rudi­men­tary roads of the 1920s.

‘It’s hard to imag­ine how the 100mph these bikes did in their hey­day felt’

2016 SS100 takes the orig­i­nal’s aura and gives it mod­ern us­abil­ity MCN’S Andy Downes gets a les­son in rid­ing a £250k SS100 from its owner and Brough CEO Mark Upham

With its split-level cans and girder front end, the 2016 Brough is as spe­cial as the orig­i­nal Al­most £300k of bikes on a ride out through the French coun­try­side... With no Euro regs in 1924, the old Brough’s fish­tail pipes are loud and proud

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