We can see the appeal of swapping camels for motorcycles, which is exactly what the real Lawrence of Arabia did after the first World War. T. E. Lawrence—the fabled Welsh-born military officer, archaeologist and author—served in the deserts of the Middle East during the war, becoming known for his role in uniting bedouin tribes against the Ottoman Empire and making a grueling 70-hour dromedary trek. Afterward, his fondness for motorbikes was also renowned, especially those from Britain’s Brough Superior, founded by racer George Brough in 1919 but shuttered in 1940.
Who could blame him? Lawrence owned seven and, in his autobiographical work The Mint, waxes poetic about riding one: “He ambles at forty-five and when roaring his utmost, surpasses the hundred. A skittish motor-bike with a touch of blood in it is better than all the riding animals on earth, because of its logical extension of our faculties, and the hint, the provocation, to excess conferred by its honeyed untiring smoothness.” Tragically, it was while on the SS100 model that Lawrence swerved to miss children and crashed, dying from his injuries a few days later.
Brough Superior, revived in the new millennium by motorcycle connoisseur Mark Upham and industry veterans Thierry Henriette and Albert Castaigne and now based in France, recently debuted a model that salutes the brand’s ardent admirer. The 103 hp Lawrence reflects its namesake most notably in design. According to Castaigne, the executive director, “the model’s muscular and fluid line is inspired by the bedouin dagger that T. E. Lawrence wore on his belt… also evoked by the two protruding knife-like ridges that energize the shape of the tank.”
The hand-built bike features a titanium frame, carbon-fiber bodywork and a 997 cc V-twin four-stroke engine developed with French specialist Akira. In another nod to Lawrence, who was born in 1888, only 188 examples are planned, with European pricing set at roughly $80,000.