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3 new bike brands heading for SA

2014-01-27 08:17

CHROME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: The Brough Superior SS100, now there’s a name to be reckoned with. It’s true – the brand is back! Arguably the prettiest bike on Planet Earth! image: Supplied


Wonderful bike news for Wheels24 readers: rumours about some of the greatest British marques being revived – and not just in name – look like coming true.

A triumvirate of British motorcycle manufacturers (siblings for the already well established Triumph) from yesteryear are about to be sold once again globally: Norton, Brough Superior and Hesketh – maybe not as you might remember them (if indeed you have every heard of them!) but as fresh as can be for the 21st Century.


Brand 1: According to Bike SA, Norton, led by owner Stuart Garner, has already announced a dealer in South Africa: Zeeman Motorcycles (Tel. 011 435 7177).  Having made several trips here,

Garner has even bought himself a game farm in the Limpopo province, the Barker says; the lad’s that keen on the place, but reckons his latest incarnation of the Norton Commando* will become an instant winner here. Meanwhile...

Brand 2: Hesketh Motorcycles, founded in 1980, developed the first Brit bike with four valves per cylinder and two overhead camshafts. Alas, not enough development took place with this potential winner.

Gearbox and other reliability issues saw the company close down after four years when the Receiver called time. Only 40 V1000-based Hesketh Vampires made it to showrooms – one example was exported to South Africa … stand up that brave man!


Seriously, in February 2014, Brit bike enthusiast Paul Sleeman hopes to show the reborn Hesketh brand after abandoning the troublesome V1000 engine and taking time to consult engine-builders Cosworth and Rotax before choosing a 1950cc S&S Harley-style V-twin, the heartbeat of a prototype Hesketh bike with a projected ticket price of around £35 000 (about R640 000).

Brand 3: The star of the trio has to be the latest incarnation of the SS100 Brough Superior** (see images). The brand is something of a legend in the motorcycle world, made famous by T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who owned several of the original bikes and was a personal friend of George Brough, the Nottingham, England motorcycle manufacturer.

Brough believed he alone manufactured the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of motorcycles, and this was no mean claim, having annoyed that purveyor of posh wheels to such an extent that the company took time out to visit Brough’s factory... but then allowed the Rolls-Royce accolade to stand.


Back to Brough Superior Motorcycles 2014 which, obviously, still manufactures motorcycles to the highest quality level possible, the 90th anniversary SS100 (Super Sports) a case in point. Only available in limited numbers, almost unbelievably this new model weighs in at just 180 kg.

Powered up by a four-stroke 88° V-twin, DOHC, there’s four valves per cylinder, the motor is cooled by water AND oil and makes 73-102kW and 125Nm. Wheelbase is 1550mm, rims 18” - back AND front.

The tubular trellis frame is steel and titanium; Fior double wishbones with shocks courtesy of Ohlin up front, and progressive Ohlin shocks in the rear. There are ceramic floating double discs in front to harness in the power; with two-piston sintered metal pads behind.

How does it go?

Well, current owner of the brand Mark Upham took two SS100 bikes to the Bonneville salt flats in the US in 2011 and came away with seven records – two of them World records.


In 2013 Upham set records in the 750cc class, ridden by aficionado Alan Cathcart and film producer/enthusiast Henry Cole. Prices of available models still have to be announced.

*Prices believed to be around the R270 000 mark – that’s assuming our currency doesn’t go into complete free fall against the British pound over the next couple of months.

**Prices still to be announced for the latest Brough Superior range – when I know, you’ll know!

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