"Ok, so we know the mainstream bike industry have been co-opting the custom scene for years now. Our Gary Inman, valued contrib, Sideburn supremo and Dirt Quake impresario, pointed out as much in our recent feature thread on the custom "
Brough Superior SS100
the most important motorcycle brand in the world is born again...
Brough Superior might be one of the most venerated bike brands in the history of motorcycling. But is the brand’s reboot just another high-end custom house taking the mickey with the prices it charges for a build?
When the Brough Superior brand was first put up for sale in 2008 the custom motorbike scene was still under the radar. The mainstream manufacturers were a million miles away from giving a Wrenchmonkee’s greasy rag for looking to small custom builders for inspiration.
These days, the custom scene has noodled predictably from the underground to a point where its roots have reached and out all over the world into the mainstream of motorcycling.
At the MCN London bike show, which was held at the Excel centre last weekend, every manufacturer was proudly showing their retro/custom platform production bikes. Ducati has their cute ’Scrambler’ flat tracker simulacrum. Triumph has a whole range of new and lovely Bonneville derivatives. BMW Motorrad has their brilliant looking and technically awesome R-Nine-T platform, which was the result of an R&D reach-out around the world to custom builders like El Solitario and Cherry’s Company.
But, shining like a chrome-clad beacon at the threshold of the ‘custom and classic’ side of the Excel hall was the immaculate and minimal Brough Superior stand and its prodigal new machine the SS100.
The newest incarnation of Brough Superior is fundamentally different from a mainstream mass manufacturer looking to the creative edges of bike culture for their inspiration. The SS100 is a full on ground up manufacture. Like a custom house, it builds to order, but unlike your average garage build this comes with its own bespoke power unit – a 997CC V-Twin built by Akira Engineering; the same company that builds the factory Kawasaki engines for the World Superbike riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea. By all accounts it’s a stunning ride, which is what you’d want from a machine that costs around the same as a BMW M3.
At the heart of the appeal of a Brand like Brough Superior must be that century-old sort of mechanicity that provided so much of the upsurge in bespoke bikers these last few years. It remains to be seen as to how low-down and dirty people with £50K to spend on a bike will be – and whether it might actually be folly to expect that the mechanical form of transcendence that can be gained by swinging a leg over a bike like this would differ, say from that you’d get from a Superleggera Ducati Panigale, (which will cost you about the same).
If you like the aesthetic of the Brough Superior, however, you probably dig the provenance generally of a bike made famous as the fastest and costliest bike of the 1920s and 1930s – a bike ridden by TE Lawrence to his death,
and a bike that evokes most completely the stripped-down simplicity of pre-WW2 motorcycling.
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