Have we reached the peak of the Zombie Brand craze? Or maybe, this is a new low? Either way, we’ve got the new Bert le Vack special-edition bike from Brough Superior.
Brough Superior, as it originally existed from 1919 through 1940, was one of the world’s most respected motorcycle manufacturers. Founded by George Brough, the company built fast, luxurious machines that earned the company the nickname “The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles.” Brough Superior’s most famous customer was probably T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, who met his untimely end aboard one of the company’s bikes.
Racer/engineer Bert le Vack was another famous Brough Superior rider; at least, he was a famous name for petrolheads in the 1920s. He helped Brough Superior develop motorcycles, and he rode them to several world records. Sadly, he also died in a motorcycle crash, during a race in Switzerland.
Brough Superior came back as a company in the 2010s. Instead of an emphasis on racing success, the new company is building litre-class V-twins with retro styling, but also using top-shelf components like Ohlins suspension and new materials like carbon-fibre, magnesium, and so on. These are machines for the rich and the famous, not the hoi polloi.
It’s an interesting business model: Making machines along the lines of classic bikes, but selling them with the promise of performance. Alas, it still means some concessions to nostalgia, and that’s why we get the, in my opinion, ugly “Bert le Vack” SS100 limited-edition run.
Sadly, this machine may look a bit like an old-school Brough Superior, but more-so, it just looks ugly. And with that in mind, it’s time to ask: Have we reached Peak Nostalgia?
Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen many vintage motorcycle marques dragged from the grave, kicking and screaming. BSA, Jawa, Norton, and so on. In almost every case, the results have been disappointing (with Indian being the best success story, and Jawa possibly following in its steps). The problem is that it’s a financially safer decision to build your business around an existing brand’s reputation than it is to go your own way. And, you can make serious coin selling T-shirts with cool vintage logos. At least, that seems to be the way of thinking.
Previously, I thought the Triumph T100 Bud Ekins edition was the low point, the most baldfaced cynical attempt to cash in on past glories. But, at least that was a good-looking bike. This Brough Superior special edition, with exhausts poking out haphazardly and gaudy, garish and superfluous titanium tank straps is awful. Please, take it away! If you need to see more, to convince you, head over to Brough Superior’s website. Otherwise, count it lucky that there’s only nine of these bikes being made.