Handcrafted, low-production exotica like the £59,999 Brough Superior SS100 you see here is, for many, the stuff of motorcycling dreams. Built with fastidious attention to detail, interesting engineering solutions, little concession to cost and an alluring back-story, it’s a bike designed to evoke emotions.
MCN has been lucky enough to ride many machines like these over the years. But whether they’re produced as a labour of love and tinkered with in a shed every night for 20 years, or built by new companies with revived vintage badges, they all have one thing in common: they’re mostly pretty rubbish to ride.
Specials builders and niche motorcycle makers are usually so wrapped up in creating the perfect carbon-fibre piece here, a billet aluminium clamp there and designing the T-shirt, that they have a blind spot for the way their motorcycle actually steers, stops and goes.
You can normally tell by their choice of tyres, which never match up to the promise of their creation. One look at the SS100’s Michelin Pilot Road 3 sports-touring tyres are a sign that history could be repeating itself.
There are two ways to review a bike like this. You could neatly gloss over the way it rides and go along with the PR spin, which in this case is all about how the original 1920s-40s Brough was a two-wheeled Rolls-Royce for the well heeled, and every bike that rolled off the production line at its Haydn Road works in Nottingham was guaranteed to do over 100mph.
Or, with a cold-hearted road tester’s head on, you could judge the SS100 like any production machine we ever ride, but then would that be fair? Brough doesn’t have a brace of testers, on fleets of bikes, pounding out millions of development miles.
When you spend this kind of money on a (slightly more expensive) Ducati Superleggera or BMW HP4 Race, riding perfection is guaranteed. Is the Brough Superior SS100 really worth 60 grand?
Well of course, it’s no cutting-edge superbike, but it’s beautifully screwed together with bespoke parts and, with only 300 being made, exclusivity is guaranteed. Best of all it actually goes as well as it looks, just like a production bike... and so it should, I hear you mutter.
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. The speedo over reads the faster you go, the switchgear is fiddly, the display is tiny, and up-to-date sports tyres would massively improve feel, steering and confidence.
It doesn’t have the performance or poise of a Triumph Thruxton, Kawasaki Z900RS or BMW R nineT, either, but you know what? 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.
In fact it’s so well sorted there’s no reason why you couldn’t use the SS100 as an everyday run-around.
It has the look and rumble of a vintage Brit, mixed with the road manners and leak-free reliability of a Honda commuter. Stiff front end, average tyres and enthusiastic speedo aside, it’s a worthy successor to the original, and you’ll never feel more special carving through the British countryside.