Brough Motorcycles

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W E Brough V 1913

Brough Motorcycles were made by William Edward Brough at his Vernon Road Works, Basford, Nottingham, England. He moved into this in 1895. It was already built and had been previously used by a textile dyeing company. At Vernon Road William carried on in business of electroplating and polishing. Safety bicycles were made and called the 'Giant', after his brother Albert, who was the tallest man in England at 7 feet 7 inches tall.

Models up to end of WWI (up to 1918)[edit]

In 1896, William built his first motorcar, with a 3.5 hp de Dion engine. In 1899 he built a 2.5 hp De Dion engined tricycle.

The first Brough motorcycle was built in 1902, and had a single cylinder engine hung from the downtube. Brough entered his oldest son William in the 1906 Lands End Trial,George badgered his mother until he too was allowed to enter.

Proper production started in 1908, there were a range of models with 2.5 hp and 3.5 hp single cylinder and 5 hp V-twin engines (all made by Brough) By 1912 there was a 6 hp V-twin,used in the motorcycle, also the 3 wheel Sociable and then an 8 hp engine was also made intended for use in the Brough 4 wheel Cyclecar.

In 1908 William built his second motorcar.Cars were built for his friends and a select few. Not many were made.

In the 3 years leading up to 1913 William Brough had been developing a flat-twin engine, in-line with the frame. It was very similar to the ABC engines of that period. This 497cc engine had overhead valves, 70mm bore and 64.5mm stroke, and had a magneto fitted above and a 2-speed gearbox below. By the end of 1914 it had replaced all other engines in the Brough range, and using it only 3-models were planned for 1915. The three models were the HS - which was fitted with a two-speed countershaft gear operated by dog clutches, with chain drive to the gearbox, and John Bull rubber belt drive to the rear wheel over an adjustable pulley allowing the top gear range to be varied. No clutch or kick-start was provided. The second model was the HB, which was fitted with a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub gearbox and handle starter. The third model was the HTT, which was very similar to the HS but fitted with a specially tuned engine with high-compression, lightweight steel pistons, different camshafts, and special front cylinder lubrication. ("New Brough Models", Motor Cycle, 3 December 1914, p619)

During the war Brough introduced a larger flat-twin of 6 hp rating, with 70mm bore and 90mm stroke (692cc), it shared a lot in common with the earlier 6 hp V-twin.("Flat Twins", Motor Cycle, 9 November 1916, pp400–403)


The sidevalve model 'G' had been conceived during the war as a touring model,suitable for the family man to take a sidecar designed by the works.It carried on right to the end of production in 1925. At the end of 1918, Brough announced ("The New Brough Model", Motor Cycle magazine, 26 December 1918). The works would be initially concentrating production on their 3.5 hp (489cc) flat-twin motorcycle. This engine design was being pushed on by Williams' son George Brough, who had returned to his fathers works after being away during the war period. The engine had detachable heads with the valve seats integral and the rockers 'enclosed in neat aluminium cases'. Light aluminium pistons, roller bearing crankshaft, and two ball bearing mounted camshafts and was bench tested delivering 14 bhp at 4200rpm, and it would go to 5600rpm.George is on record as saying he would guarantee it to the tune of £100. The new engine design was George trying to make what he wanted leading to his "Ideal" motorcycle. However to put this engine into production would entail quite some cost. William was not prepared to fund what George wanted to achieve,which led to the split between them. William merely carried on with the OHV model'W'as he conceived it and did not use any of Georges ideas. During 1919 William had been selling off surplus motorcycle, tricar, cyclecar parts, also sidecar bodies to turn dead stock into capital.With the economy faltering and general unemployment prospects were not good. The partnership between William and George was dissolved in March 1920. Over the next couple of years a lot of experimentation with cylinder head design on the Model 'W', at least 4 different arrangements were tried,the final one in 1922 with one piece forged crank,roller big ends to a patent design, roller cam followers, light aluminium pistons, removable valve seats, and the engine base extended to mount the three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox.("A revised sporting flat-twin", Motor Cycle, 22 June 1922, p841) In 1923 a larger capacity model G sidevalve engine was produced, of 810cc,the crankcase had a twin drive side main bearing setup and an improved timing gear arrangement. William Brough continued to produce Brough motorcycles until 1925,when a small batch was made for an export order. William experimented with an opposed piston two stroke in 1927, but nothing came of it. The Brough works diversified into precision grinding after 1926, and overhaul of Brough machines. However William did not lose touch with motorcycles entirely.For it was to him son George turned, to manufacture patterns and castings, and do machining work such as the two crankshaft designs etc., for the 1927 Brough Superior V4.