Quite what George Brough’s father, Nottingham-based motorcycle manufacturer William Edward Brough, thought when his younger son cheekily added the word ‘Superior’ to the family name when founding his rival marque can only be imagined, but it’s thanks to this act of youthful bravado that we have one of the greatest and most-evocative names in motorcycling. W E Brough’s bikes had been innovative and well-engineered, and his son’s continued the family tradition but with an added ingredient – style. J A Prestwich of London and Motosacoche of Geneva supplied v-twin engines for the MkI and MkII Brough Superiors respectively, though within a few years all models would be JAP-powered. Gearboxes were sourced from Sturmey-Archer and (initially) forks from Montgomery, while frame and accessory manufacture was contracted out to specialists in the British motorcycle industry’s Midlands heartland.
With the SS80 and SS100 well established by the mid-1920s, it was decided to add a smaller and cheaper alternative to these two one-litre models to the range. JAP was already producing a 674cc side-valve v-twin engine and this unit, redesigned to accommodate overhead valves, went into Brough’s new ‘Overhead 680’.
First shown to the public at the Olympia Motorcycle Show in 1926, the ‘Miniature SS100’, as George Brough called it, entered production for 1927. The new middleweight Brough was an instant success and for the 1930 season was joined by a version to higher specification. First seen at the 1929 Motorcycle Show, the newcomer was dubbed ‘Black Alpine 680’, a reference to the lavishly equipped SS100 Alpine Grand Sports and the fact that the newcomer boasted a distinctive all-black eggshell finish. Principal mechanical difference from the standard Overhead 680 was the adoption of the patented Draper sprung frame.