The bike in question is obviously something a bit special. It’s the 1928 Brough Superior SS100 well known to aficionados as “Moby Dick”. This was the name given it after Motor Cycling magazine tested it in 1931 and declared it “the fastest privately-owned machine in the world”.
How fast? It clocked 115mph in 1931, but reportedly later went on to hit 125mph in its top (third) gear. Any SS100 was fast in its day but Moby Dick was the fastest thanks to a thorough tuning job by George Brough and JAP on its 1140cc vee-twin engine. Apart from special oversize cylinders, it boasted higher compression ratio, high-lift cams, lightened valves and twin Amal carburettors. Power increased to 65bhp – 21 more than the standard engine.
No surprise then that it was a successful racer in its day in the hands of the Bilbé brothers. And it was their son Roger who reacquired the bike decades later and masterminded its 1997 restoration.
Moby Dick is being auctioned by RM Sotheby’s at its Villa Erba sale “Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike” on the shores of Lake Como on Saturday 27 May. The guide price is €500-700,000, or £420-588,000. Moby Dick last sold in 2011 for £210,000. As the auction house says: “A more unique and historic road bike would be hard to find.”