George Brough

Monday 21st April 1890

Born on this day, George Brough, British motorcycle racer, world record holding motorcycle and automobile manufacturer, and showman. He was known for his powerful and expensive Brough Superior motorcycles which were the first superbikes. Nicknamed the “Rolls Royce of motorcycles” in The Motor Cycle newspaper because of George Brough’s attention to detail and quality, the Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle was built between 1924 and 1940 at his factory in Haydn Road, Nottingham. He also had a flair for marketing and in 1922 rode a Brough Superior SS9-Brough Superior SS80 which he called Spit and Polish at managing an unofficial 100 mph (160 km/h) lap. Approximately 3,048 motorcycles of 19 different models were made in 21 years of production. All Brough Superior motorcycles were high performance and superior quality. Most were custom built to specific customers requirements and rarely were any two of the same configuration. Each motorcycle was assembled twice. The first assembly was for fitting of all components, then the motorcycle was disassembled and all parts were painted or plated as needed, then the finished parts were assembled a final time. Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was personally certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph or more prior to delivery. The SS80 model was ridden at 80 mph (130 km/h) or more before delivery. If any motorcycle didn’t meet specification, it returned to the shop for rework until it performed properly. In 1928, George Brough recorded the speed of 130.6 mph (210.2 km/h) at Arpajon, unofficially the world’s fastest speed on a solo motorcycle. In 1929 a Brough SS100 was purchased by Sir William Lyons who two years later applied the same name to his own first four wheeled vehicle, much to Brough’s disgruntlement at the time, though the two later became close friends. It is fair to recall that “S” and “S” were the first two initials of the Swallow Sidecar Company which Lyons had co-founded back in 1923. In 1940, World War II brought an end to production as the factory was turned over to produce munitions. After hostilities had ceased there were no suitable engines available so the company was wound up. Around 1,000 Brough motorycles still exist, maintained by enthusiasts in perfect working order.

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