British motorcycle manufacturers – B
1948-55, scooters (folding Corgi scooter). Became major shareholder in Indian in ealry 1950s. Made a 250cc sidevalve sold as Indian brave, but was poorly designed and commercially unsuccessful.
George Brough’s machines were advertised as the Rolls Royce of motorcycles. Expensive, and powerful, they were mostly handmade, many powered by JAP (J. A. Prestwich) engines, some by Matchless engines.
The company was started by father William Brough, who built a car in 1899, using a Dion engine. He then put together a motorized tricycle and finally a motorcycle in 1902. His flat-twin bikes were very successful in sprints and hill climbs. He began making production motorcycles in 1908.
George and William were initially partners in the company.
George left his father’s business in 1919 after an argument to begin his own company in the same city of Nottingham. He was joined by Ike Webb, who became works manager. Brough showed his first bike, a V-twin, at the Olympia show in late 1920 and began production in 1921. His SS80 sv model was available in 1923, the SS100 from 1925.
His production was mostly custom and special bikes designed for specific customer wants or needs.
Brough senior continued to make motorcycles after George left, with 496cc ABC engines, later using his own flat twin Brough engines up to 810cc. He ceased production in 1926 (25?).
George’s high-quality machines used JAP, MAG and Matchless engines, Sturmey-Archer gearboxes and Brampton forks. Most famous of all were his SS models (the SS100 had an OHV 990cc engine, the SS80 a 998cc side-valve). The Pendine model SS100 was guaranteed to exceed 110 mph!
Undoubtedly Brough’s strangest bike was a 1932 four-cylinder three-wheeler powered by a modified 796cc Austin Seven automobile engine! It also had shaft drive and was intended for sidecar use. Shortly after this, William died and George returned home to continue his production.
T.E. Lawrence owned eight Broughs, all called George. He was killed on May 13, 1935, while riding George VII, an SS100.
Only around 400 SS100s were ever made; about 300 powered by a JAP engine, the last 100 by a Matchless V-twin.
Brough announced a new bike in 1938, the Dream, with a 900cc flat-four engine. With numerous technological advances, it promised to be an even better machine, but production was halted in 1940, just after war broke out. However, the bike wasn’t forgotten in 1949 Noel Pope used an enclosed, streamlined Brough with an 8/80 JAP engine to try for a speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats. He crashed at 150mph, ending his attempt.
Pope had already achieved a world record on a Brough at Brooklands, where he reached 124 mph in a solo and 106mph in a sidecar machine. But the record went to Eric Fernihough in 1938, who managed to reach 180mph on a Brough in Budapest, but was killed in the return lap.
In 1940, Brough stopped making motorcycles to make aircraft components for the Allied war effort, but never started again after war ended.
1902-19 (1901-15?) Accessory supplier, also made some of its own, small-medium-sized bikes.
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