BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100 (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Ultra-exclusive exotica from revived historic brand
  • Wonderful V-twin engine
  • Exquisite detailing and build quality

At a glance

Power: 100 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.3 in / 820 mm)
Weight: Medium (410 lbs / 186 kg)

Prices

New £59,999
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The original Brough Superiors, hand-built in Nottingham between 1919 and 1940, were dubbed ‘The Rolls-Royce of motorcycles’, were the fastest, most luxurious bikes of the day, famously ridden by T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and now are among the most valuable and desirable classic bikes of all.

This modern incarnation was created when British classic specialist Mark Upham acquired the rights to the Brough name in 2008 and partnered with Thierry Henriette of Boxer Bikes in Toulouse, France, to build an all-new, ultra-exclusive, modern machine worthy of the name. This £59,999 SS100 is the result, although there have been a number of limited edition varients also built since.

There’s no doubt it’s the stuff of motorcycling dreams – handcrafted, low-production exotica with fastidious attention to detail, interesting engineering solutions and an alluring back-story, but often these sorts of bikes are disappointing to ride. To put it another way: is the SS100 really worth 60 grand when you could spend this kind of money on a (slightly more expensive) Ducati Superleggera or BMW HP4 Race with riding perfection guaranteed?

Admittedly, it’s no cutting-edge superbike, but it’s beautifully screwed together with bespoke parts, with only 300 being made exclusivity is guaranteed and, best of all, it actually goes as well as it looks.

It’s certainly not perfect, or without niggles and doesn’t have the performance or poise of a Triumph ThruxtonKawasaki Z900RS or BMW R nineT. But the Brough isn’t that far behind and no mass produced machine will ever give you such a sense of occasion every time you turn a wheel.

It has the look and rumble of a vintage Brit with the road manners and leak-free reliability of a Honda commuter. It’s a worthy successor to the original and you’ll never feel more special carving through the British countryside.

This bike replaced the 2016-2018 Brough Superior SS100

Brough Superior SS100 side panel

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The SS100 might look long and low but it’s not uncomfortable. The riding position is roomy. The stitched leather seat is no Chesterfield but it will keep you pain free for an hour or so and you don’t slide off the seat and up the tank under hard braking, either.

All that machined aluminium and titanium isn’t just pretty, it’s light and effective, too. Weighing just 186kg (dry) the Brough is manageable at low speed, has a sensible turning circle and it’s fun on the open road.

Big, vintage-style 18-inch wheels give slightly lazy steering, like an old Brit racer, but the Brough has a pleasing feel of togetherness about it and goes precisely where you point it, albeit with a bit of elbow grease, but that’s all part of the fun.

The novel, Beringer, four-disc front brakes offer the kind of extraordinary feel, bite and power sadly lacking from modern brake-by-wire systems, and adding to the wind-in-the-hair-drama of it all is the surreal sight of the screen and headlight (bolted to the front double wishbone) bobbing up and down behind the Big Ben-sized five-inch Smiths-style clock as the front wheel tracks over bumps.

OK, so its Fior-style double wishbone front suspension is overly stiff and, unlike its plush rear, doesn’t deal with big bumps well at speed, making the bars gently slap in your hands under hard acceleration at gentle lean, while up-to-date sports tyres would massively improve feel, steering and confidence. But overall the SS100 is impressively sorted, so much so there’s no reason why you couldn’t use it as an everyday run-around.

It might look long and low but it’s not uncomfortable, and you don’t slide off the seat and up the tank under hard braking, either. The stitched leather seat is no Chesterfield, but it will keep you pain free for an hour or so, between coffee stops.

Brough Superior SS100 exhausts

All that machined aluminium and titanium isn’t just pretty, it’s light, too. Weighing just 186kg (dry) the Brough is manageable at low speed and fun on the open road. Eighteen- inch wheels give the SS100 slightly lazy steering, like an old Brit racer, but the Brough has a pleasing feel of togetherness about it and goes precisely where you point it, albeit with a bit of elbow grease, but that’s all part of the fun.

Four-disc front brakes offer the kind of extraordinary feel, bite and power sadly lacking from modern brake-by-wire systems, and adding to the wind-in-the-hair-drama of it all is the surreal sight of the screen and headlight (bolted to the front double wishbone) bobbing up and down behind the Big Ben-sized five-inch Smiths-style clock as the front wheel tracks over bumps.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The original Brough Superiors back in the 1920 and ‘30s were famous for using the best engines available, usually big, 1000cc JAP V-twins, and for its SS100 being capable of 100mph – hence the name.

This all-new incarnation follows the same spirit but does it with its own, bespoke and now liquid-cooled, DOHC and 4v 88-degree V-twin designed and built by Boxer design – and for such a small manufacturer it’s an impressive effort.

The superb 100bhp, 997cc motor is a marvel of glassy torque, rumbling vintage charm and shimmering speed. It has all the hot, oily character of an old British motorcycle mixed with clatter-free low rpm smoothness, a bulging midrange and a top end kick that’ll blast you past that sacred, early 20th century 100mph yardstick.

It also has a slick six-speed gearbox, excellent low-speed throttle response and the lightest clutch action you’ll find this side of a Honda CBR125R.

The engine isn’t window-shakingly brash, excessively vibey, or loaded with so much earth-crushing torque it’s tiring to ride. Brough have injected their V-twin with just the right amount of grunt, power and charisma to be enjoyable at any speed, and those optional sports cans add an extra layer of throbbing bass to the SS100’s already fabulous soundtrack.

Brough Superior SS100 engine detail

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

In terms of build quality, very little comes close to the new, reincarnated Brough Superior. The new SS100 manages to stop every passer-by in their tracks and each time you park up an interested crowd quickly builds. Its retro/modern looks may polarise opinion, but you can’t argue with the quality and attention to detail of the SS100.

According to the Toulouse factory, to hand machine, paint and then polish the fuel tank alone takes a full 35 hours – imagine Honda doing that!. At the same time, the  novel, exquisite 230mm Beringer quad disc set-up was chosen to mimic the look of a vintage drum brake yet deliver cutting-edge braking power.

While the chunky, twin filler caps have a satisfyingly weighty feel you rarely find elsewhere. Overall, you’ll be hard pushed to find the use of any steel or plastic, while plaques screwed to the frame proudly show the name of the craftsman who built the engine and rolling chassis. Even the key is a work of art. In short: quality is beyond question.

Reliability, however, is harder to judge. The new Brough SS100 is an all-new, hand-built machine with an equally all-new engine and very few examples, as we write, have been sold or covered many miles. We’ve also so far seen very few owner reports or updates.

All that said, however, we’ve so far undertaken two different tests aboard the SS100 and although we haven’t covered 1000s of miles we’ve had no reliability problems. On the second occasion, our 2500-mile test bike – a Brough development machine from the factory – showed sign of use but not wear, while we’ve also so far heard from one owner who has already covered 7000 miles over the winter on his example – and it’s still going strong. On the basis of all this, the SS100 isn’t some kind of fragile ornament.

Brough Superior SS100 key in ignition

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
2 out of 5 (2/5)

With bikes as expensive, exclusive and exquisite as the Brough Superior SS100 it’s almost irrelevant to consider purely pragmatic and economic issues such as cost and value. After all, there are very few other machines to realistically compare it to, few people can afford one in the first place, those that can probably pay little regard to running costs and value is a very subjective thing.

It’s also worth pointing out that, with hand-built exotica such as this, they sometimes end up being bought more as financial investments than as practical transport purchases. That £60K new price may be steep but, as with a limited edition Ferrari, who’s to say whether or not the new Brough’s value may actually rise in the years to come, although at this stage it’s sop new it’s impossible to say.

With all that said, however, it’s also worth pointing out that running costs won’t be cheap – but probably not extortionate, either. Yes, insurance premiums will be high due to its value, but its 100bhp performance won’t translate into an extortionate hunger for consumables such as tyres, fuel, brake pads and so on.

The closest comparison we can make in terms of rivals are the equally bespoke, V-twin but now defunct US-built Confederate Hellcat, more recent and even more expensive £90,000 Arch KRGT-1, although neither have the alluring British heritage of the Brough.

Yes, it’s anything but cheap, but the SS100 goes as well as it looks, which is rarely the case with limited-run exotica. So, if you’ve got a spare £60k burning a hole in your pocket, the Brough Superior SS100 is probably the ultimate sunny Sunday feel-good bike.

As we write, over 100 of the 300-bike run has already been made and production ends at the end of 2018 (although subsequent models have since gone into production – Ed) so you’d better get in quick if you fancy something truly exotic that can actually be used like a proper motorcycle, too.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The new Brough Superior SS100 is a hand-built, artisan motorcycle built by craftsmen which has been inspired by vintage machines from 100 years ago so, although a modern bike with an all-new engine featuring liquid-cooling and four-valve heads and also coming equipped with the very best in off-the-shelf cycle parts such as sophisticated Beringer brakes and Ohlins suspension front and rear you shouldn’t expect much by way of modern equipment.

Now commonplace motorcycling features such as electronic rider aids, slick colour TFT screens or luxury comfort such as electronic suspension, heated seats and grips and electrically-adjustable screens as today common on high-end mass market motorcycles have no place on the Brough Superior SS100.

Or, to put it another way, the Brough Superior SS100 may be a luxury motorbike in terms of its materials and craftsmanship, but you don't get any of the mod cons you would from even middle-of-the-range modern bikes.

There are, however, touches of class everywhere you look, from the double wishbone front suspension to the polished alloy fuel tank and novel quad-disc front brakes. The big 18-inch wheels are a work of art.

The leather saddle is hand-stitched and each bike comes with an individual plaque detailing which craftsmen built the engine and assembled the bike. You don’t get that on a run-of-the-mill Honda or Suzuki.

The big, analogue speedo, referencing Broughs of old, is a classy touch, too – who needs a TFT dash or Bluetooth connectivity anyway? But it also has to be said that the speedo over-reads the faster you go, the switchgear is fiddly and the info display is tiny, not that these kind of quibbles will put off many prospective owners.

In addition, the options list for the Brough Superior is very long indeed with much of the bike customisable to some degree. Two Brough Superiors will rarely be the same as a result.

Specs

Engine size 997cc
Engine type 997cc watercooled dohc 88° V-twin four-stroke with four valves per cylinder, and composite chain/gear cam drive
Frame type Machined titanium frame with fabricated titanium subframe
Fuel capacity 11 litres
Seat height 820mm
Bike weight 186kg
Front suspension Aluminium wishbone with single shock, preload and rebound adjustment
Rear suspension Rear suspension Cast aluminium swingarm pivoting in engine crankcases, with monoshock adjustable for preload and rebound damping and progressive rate link with 130mm travel
Front brake 4x230mm discs with 2x four-pot calipers
Rear brake 230mm disc with two-pot caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 18
Rear tyre size 160/60 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost -
New price £59,999
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 100 bhp
Max torque 66 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

The modern Brough Superior bikes are an homage to those designed and built by George Brough in the 1920s and 30s. Referred to as the ‘Rolls-Royce of motorcycles’, the original bikes were luxurious, reliable and very fast.

The original company was wound up after World War II and the current brand operates out of Toulouse, France under the leadership of Mark Upham.

The first run of modern SS100 bikes was produced in 2016.

Other versions

The options list for the Brough Superior is very long indeed with much of the bike customisable to some degree. Two Brough Superiors will rarely be the same as a result.

Alongside the standard SS100 is a Pendine Sand Racer version.

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