SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
The Brough Superior S.S. 100.
By ARNOLD RADCLYFFE. j UNDERSTAND that Mr. George Brough still has “1something up his sleeve for next year ; but as his present masterpiece is superlative, unless he puts gold plate on his next effort and studs it with diamonds, I really fail to see how he can make many improvements on the existing “S.S. ioo.” Perhaps, however, it could be improved on, one or two of the minor details might be modified ; for instance, the sight feed on the tank is unworthy of the rest of the machine, it should be sunk in a mahogany dashboard somewhere. Then again, the position of the magneto could be improved by
the front exhaust pipe which caused the dent when taking some pothole or other. Whether this was done on my trip or not, I do not know, but what I do remember is taking a pothole which appeared fathoms deep to me with very little more jolt than would have been felt in a Lan chester car. I had a good look at that hole afterwards, and in my opinion it would have broken most front forks, if not a good many frames. My last point is that in spite of a delightfully convenient and neat handle on the rear mudguard, it is impossible for a weak individual to hoist the machine on to its
placing it at the rear of the engine and high up. I shall never forget having mag. trouble on a sweltering hot day in Epping Forest once. The machine was an S.S.8o, on which the sidecar arm came right down in front of the contact breaker, and even when lying flat in the dust under the sidecar it was impossible to see if the points were breaking, and consequently the contact breaker had to be detached for adjustment.
This alone was sufficient to condemn all mags. located for’ard, especially on runs like the last London—Exeter, when the mag. is indistinguishable from the rest of the engine. Nevertheless, a better appearance is obtained by fitting the magneto in front, and it certainly makes the bike look more solid. Another point which can be noticed in the illustration of the engine is that the mudguard is a fraction too near
stand. Personally, I would not grumble as I found that once on the stand it was very firm and solid and easy to let down again, but while leaving the machine for a minute or two to enter a shop, I asked a friend to put it on the stand ; on my return he was still struggling. I know another machine of nearly the same weight which a lady can hoist up quite easily.
There endeth my criticisms from the structural point of view ; from the aesthetic, the machine is nearly perfect, perhaps the front mudguard could be improved very slightly, but front guards are difficult things to attune to a sense of beauty. When describing scenery, the sea, and even old castles, one seems to have a wealth of words at one’s command, a vocabulary compiled by generations of lovers of nature and things beautiful, but coming to dilate on the beauty
and power of a motor cycle, one is quite at a loss to find phrases which will convey to the mind of the reader the special attributes of even an ordinary machine. How much more difficult is it to impart the sensations received after a trip on what in all fairness must be called the best thing on two wheels in the world.
“Very rapid acceleration ” ; the phrase is weak and unstable when applied to this leviathan of power which can send the needle up to seventy-five without even thinking of using top gear and that within neaily a couple of hundred yards. On bottom gear alone, one can overtake all touring traffic and even then no symptoms of valve bounce are apparent.
Immediately on introducing the top gear (when using the gear box in a normal manner), one is comfortably idling along at 40 m.p.h., and great care has to be exercised upon entering towns, since on the open road it is possible to tour along with scarcely more than a burble from the exhausts at the exhilarating speed of sixty.
Upon the approach of a town one shuts off, only to find that the needle is still in the region of forty, and on one occasion it was not till a friendly law officer made motions with his hand that I realized that the throttle must only be opened about one half of a millimetre if ro mile limits were to be observed, and it is possible to keep down to that speed, and even a fraction under without snatch of any sort, even without easing the clutch on top gear.
Never before has a Bonniksen needle appeared so slow in corning round, its jumps were in the nature of 0-35-70, which gives an idea of the really terrific velocity which the engine imparts.
As to any scepticism as to the maximum speed, I can safely say that this particular machine was capable of well over the hundred mark ; unfortunately, my way lay far from the track, otherwise I should be pleased to state what its actual maximum was. The maximum reached on the stretches available was just over the ninety mark with a pillion passenger on the mudguard.
This was attained on a short quarter mile stretch ; the change from second to top was effected at 70 m.p.h., without my passenger knowing that we had not been in top gear all the time. Beyond mentioning that at ninety the S.S.roo had plenty of throttle opening left and was seemingly only just beginning to get the bone between her teeth, I will leave the speed capabilities and say a word or two about comfort.
We have all heard how the S.S.mo can be steered at 95 m.p.h.. hands off, by the Brough testers, but it will be noticed from photographs that a crouching position is adopted, with the elbows on the knees and the action performed is merely the lifting of the hands from the bars.
In my opinion, it is more of a test if the body can be kept upright and the hands well out from the body. This I could do at 75 m.p.h. on a fairly rough surface, which bears out all the eulogies on the Brough’s steering gear.
There are many machines which can be ridden hands off at most speeds, and are quite comfortable with both hands on the bars, but which become unmanageable demons when one tries to ride with only one hand on.
I had a machine recently, the makers of which adopted Webb forks at the last show. Steering was perfect without hands up to all speeds, but however light a touch was applied with one hand it caused a bad wobble every time.
Now, the Brough could be steered comfortably with one hand up to quite high speed, and no amount of bad surface taken fast would alter the plane of the front wheel. At the same time, the front springing was excellent, the motion being imperceptible and yet sufficient to absorb all bumps, with the one exception of the single pothole mentioned previously. The riding position is so comfortable and natural that until I got off for the first time I did not know that only a Terry saddle top was fitted, there being no main
saddle springs ; instead, as can be clearly seen in the illustration, stays support the saddle from the auxiliary foot rest lugs. With the addition of a cushion on the tank, these back footrests give a very nice crouching attitude for fast work, bringing one’s face right behind the handlebar windscreen, which, by the way, does not spoil the appearance of the machine in the least ; it does, in fact, enhance the general ” dreadnought ” aspect of providing a “bridge.” Even when sitting up in a normal position, the screen greatly assists by deflecting the wind stream over the top of the head, without, however, robbing one’s eyes of that rush of air which is the real joy in speed.
A hill to trouble the Brough seriously was not to be found ; wheel grip was always positive, largely owing to the great weight of the machine, and a well-known hill, part of which is 2/ to 1, was taken on second gear.
Lest people might imagine that such a monster is unwieldy, I had a photograph taken of the machine being manceuvred on wet grass by a lady who only scales about 8 stone, and it was found that she could handle the machine as easily as a push bike, and she is not a motor cyclist.
Another qualm of the motor cyclist is that while wishing to travel fast, he is afraid that his weight will not be sufficient to “keep her down” at high speeds. This certainly has been the case with some machines in the past, where the rider was a lightweight, and I have known one or two who have sold their machines, through feeling that the back wheel is never on the ground. In the case of the S.S.roo it keeps itself down, even on bad surfaces, and nobody should be put off on account of the above doubt.
I have yet to take over a strange machine which did not need a short run before I was completely familiar with the modus operandi, but in this case, in spite of traffic for a few miles, everything seemed to come to hand. The gear lever was arranged for a foot change, and nothing more easy could be imagined. A snick with the foot, and a touch at the clutch, and one was in top gear, with nobody any wiser ; the change back was equally simple. Braking was effective, especially on the back wheel, the front was weak, but was handy in traffic when used
in conjunction with the clutch. I understood this had been specially adjusted. Both brake drums are of good dimensions, and cooling is arranged by a pair of aluminium pins. Structurally, the frame is well built and the general outline can be seen from the photo, which, by the way,
was taken against an eight foot sheet of asbestos, in order to give an idea of the overall length of the machine. There is only one top tube, but this is of ample size for its job.
The steering head and handlebar lug are of massive construction, and the forks are the well-known HarleyDavidson pattern. The tank is of course larger even than the S.S.8o, and contains sufficient for at least two hundred miles.
There are no bolted extras on the frame, everywhere lugs are used, giving a very neat and clean appearance.
It would occupy too much space to describe all the details of the overhead valve J.A.P. engine, but readers who are interested in the power unit can receive full particulars on application to Messrs. Allen Bennett, of Croydon, who are the distributing agents for the South of England. Incidentally, I must mention the admirable service facilities provided by this firm, of which the principals are keen motor-cyclists and competition riders.
Finally, there is a point nearly overlooked in the above notes, i.e., the remarkable cornering abilities of the S.S.Ioo. If I were to state that the latter corners better than a well-known two-stroke—renowned as a paragon in this respect—I might not be believed, but the fact remains that such is actually the case.
& DISTRICT MOTOR CLUB.
Darlington Gymkhana at 6.3o p.m.
Ferryhill M.-C. Gymkhana in conjunction with the • Dean Bank British Legion Sports.
IP 9. Fault-Finding Competition. Leave Headquarters at 1.30 p.m.
23. Safety First Mystery Trial. Leave Headquarters at 1.30 p.m., with known stop for tea.
Enquiries to Hon. Sec., J. P. Wfm.,Am.
WORCESTER MOTOR CLUB.
A successful meeting was held at Madresfield Court on July nth, the motor-cycles proving their superiority (on this occasion) over the cars ; amongst the latter was Frazer Nash, who covered the course in 32 i /5 secs., which was the fastest car time.
A.J.S. Cup and Gold Medal for fastest time for motor cycles, any capacity.—H. Hudson (Tornado-Anzani), 30 1/5 secs.
Severn Cup and Gold Medal for fastest time for motor-cycles up to 500 c.c.—W. L. Handley (348 Rex-Acme), 31 secs.
Bleekley Cup and Gold Medal for fastest time (amateurs), motor-cycles.—S. R. Stannett (A.J.S.), 34 1/5 secs.
Eric Williams Shield and Gold Medal for fastest time for motor-cycles (amateurs), A. J.S. machines only.—S. R. Stannett (A.J.S.), 34 1/5 secs.