Exotic materials, expensive sticker and achingly beautiful, Brough Superior has pushed the envelope with the Lawrence, and named it after a historic personality intrinsically connected to the brand
Brough Superior has showcased its third ‘new’ model, called Lawrence. Now, we realise that Lawrence is not quite the name we associate with motorcycles. However, in this particular case, Brough Superior has invoked the name of one of the most famous personalities associated with the brand: Colonel T E Lawrence, more famously known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ An avid motorcyclist, Colonel Lawrence had owned not one or two, but seven Brough Superior SS100s, and it was an accident on the seventh one (named George VII) that claimed his life. In fact, his eight SS100 was being built at the time he succumbed to his injuries.
So what does the brand have in store for us? We will tell you, but first a small history of the Brough Superior marque
Speed and show
Brough Superior has been a brand single-mindedly focused upon exclusivity rather than volumes. Started by racer George Brough who wanted to make motorcycles which were an improvement over his father William E Brough’s creations, Brough Superior, initially active between 1919 and 1940, sold a scant 3048 units. However, most Brough Superior motorcycles were custom-built and hence were usually very expensive, retailing for around £180 in the 1920s, which equates to approximately £ 80,000 (or close to Rs 80 lakh, before taxes), in today’s money. Additionally, each motorcycle was, before delivery, tested to its top whack (80mph or 129kmph for the SS80, 100mph or 160kmph for the SS100); so they were, in a way, the superbikes of their time.
Brough Superior closed down in 1940, and stayed dormant till 2008, when vintage motorcycle enthusiast Mark Upham acquired the rights to the Brough Superior name, showing off the new SS100, created by motorcycle designer Thierry Henriette, at the 2013 EICMA. The new Brough Superior SS100 featured a 990cc v-twin engine. The chassis, made entirely of exotic materials, including titanium, carbonfibre, and aluminum, used the engine as a stressed member, with a Fior-based front fork with Ohlins shock absorber, with Ohlins monoshock rear suspension. The front brakes are from Beringer, with four rotors, sourced from the aircraft industry. The minimal bodywork was constructed of hand-hammered aluminum, including the fuel tank, seat cowl, fenders, and side covers. The SS100 weighed just under 181kg (dry weight).
The brand’s next creation was the AMB 001, created with collaboration from Aston Martin. Boasting a 997cc turbocharged v-twin making 180bhp, it too weighed just 180kg (dry weight). And as expected, it boasted exclusive technical features, including a chassis configuration with a double-wishbone front fork and structural carbonfibre body, inspired from the new series of mid-engined Aston Martin cars.
The story today
We now come to Brough Superior’s latest creation, the Lawrence. Conceived as a roadster, it continues with the minimalist designs of all the other models. The brand says its 17-litre fuel tank is inspired by the curved daggers worn by Bedouins on their belts. The single-piece seat is built for two, though the deep scoop and tapered rear would mean the pillion won’t be too comfortable. Like the other creations from the brand, the Lawrence, too, gets a machined Titanium frame and subframe, with a cast aluminium swingarm. Up front is a fully adjustable Fior-type Aluminium casting fork with twin articulated triangular Titanium links, while out back is a fully adjustable monoshock. Even the fuel tank is made of carbonfibre to shave off some weight.
A unique attribute of the Lawrence is the handlebar, made from a single machined piece of aluminium, taking centrestage on which is a single-pod semi-digital cluster. Moving finally to the powerplant, and it gets the same 997cc v-twin from the AMB 001, though this time it isn’t turbocharged. On offer is is 102bhp at 9600rpm, and 87Nm at 7300rpm, mated to a 6-speed ‘box. Braking duties are taken care of by a pair of 320mm discs up front chomped upon by a four-piston caliper setup by French specialists Beringer, while the rear gets a 230mm disc with a two-piston caliper.
Ultimately, despite the extensive use of the weight-saving materials, the Brough Superior Lawrence tips the scales at a not-so-sprightly 200kg. And more importantly, only 188 units will be created, as a tribute to the year 1888, which was when Colonel Lawrence was born, and will retails for €66,000, or roughly Rs 57 lakh, excluding taxes and duties.