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 dying 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 3hp de Dion engine. In 1899 he built a 2.5hp 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 sons in competition and trials, which helped to prove his designs.

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)[1]. 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.

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]


At the end of 1918, Brough announced[4] they would be initially concentrating production on their 3.5 hp (489cc) flat-twin motorcycle. This was bench tested at 14 bhp at 4200rpm, and it would go to 5600rpm, which was quite high but was guaranteed by George Brough 'to the extent of £100'. 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, are further indications of development work during the war.

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 new engine design was George trying to make what he wanted.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.

The partnership between William and George was dissolved in March 1920. The first Brough Superior advert was in late 1920. Upon hearing the name of the new motorcycle company, his father made the comment, "I suppose that makes mine the Brough Inferior".

The two sizes of Brough flat-twin engine were still in production in 1922 when Brough announced a modified version with roller cam followers, light aluminium pistons, removable valve seats, and the engine base extended to mount the three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox.[5] William Brough continued to produce motorcycles under the original "Brough" marque until 1926. In 1923 a larger capacity model G engine was produced ,of 810cc,the crankcase had a twin drive side main bearing setup and an improved timing gear arrangement.


  1. ^ Tragatsch, Erwin (2000). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles. London: Quantum Publishing. p. 560. ISBN 1861603428. 
  2. ^ "New Brough Models", Motor Cycle, 3 December 1914, p619
  3. ^ "Flat Twins", Motor Cycle, 9 November 1916, pp400-403
  4. ^ "The New Brough Model", Motor Cycle magazine, 26 December 1918
  5. ^ "A revised sporting flat-twin", Motor Cycle, 22 June 1922, p841