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Brough Superior SS 100

Brough Superior motorcycles

The Brough Superior SS 100 was designed and built by George Brough in Nottingham UK in 1924. Although every bike was designed to meet specific customer requirements (even the handlebars were individually shaped[1] ) 69 SS100's were produced in 1925 and at £170 were advertised by Brough (without permission) as the 'Rolls Royce of Motorcycles'[2] and all bikes had a guarantee that they were capable of 100 miles an hour. The SS100 (Super Sports) was the first custom motorcycle with components chosen from many different suppliers. The first engine (from 1924 to 1936) was the twin cam KTOR JAP (made by J. A. Prestwich) V twin (upgraded to a Matchless engine from 1936. Gearboxes were the 4 stud 3 speed from Sturmey Archer and originally the forks were from Harley Davidson.

Development

The Alpine Grand Sport was launched at the 1925 Motorcycle Show and was an SS100 with a full touring specification. In the same year Brough produced a 110 mile an hour Pendine Racing Model (named after the Pendine sands where Malcolm Campbell set a number of world speed records) with increased ground clearance. The Sturmey Archer gearbox was upgraded in 1929 for a three speed "super heavyweight" box to cope better with the 50bhp produced by the Jap engine[4]. In 1928 Brough introduced rear suspension and in 1934 the Alpine Grand Sport gained a seventy-five horsepower overhead valve Jap engine known as two of everything as it had two magnetos and two oil pumps[5]. A foot gear change was introduced in 1935 and a four-speed Norton gearbox in 1936. Development on all Brough Superior's was stopped when World War 2 meant that the factory had to be turned over to war work.

On the 27th of April 2008 at the Stafford Motorcycle show UK the auctioneers Bonhams sold a 1934 Brough Superior SS100 for £166,500 - a world record and the highest price ever paid for a British motorcycle at auction.

T. E. Lawrence

T. E. Lawrence (known as Lawrence of Arabia) bought one of the first SS100's in 1925 having previously owned three Brough SS 80's. Lawrence had a fatal crash on the Brough SS100 on a narrow road near his cottage near Wareham. The accident occurred because a dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on bicycles. Swerving to avoid them, Lawrence lost control and was thrown over the handlebars He was not wearing a helmet and suffered serious head injuries which left him in a coma and he died after six days in hospital. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon, Hugh Cairns. He consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries and his research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists. As a consequence of treating Lawrence Sir Hugh Cairns ultimately saved the lives of many motorcyclists since.

Lawrence's last SS100 (Registration GW 2275) was built in 1932 and is on loan to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire, UK