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Famous Motorcyclists - Part 2

By Walter F. Kern

T. E. Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia was a famous person who actually did a lot of riding. He regularly rode 500 miles a day on his Brough (pronounced as "bruff") Superior SS100 motorcycle.

His motorcycles were numbered George I to George VII, perhaps factory numbers or just as an honor to his friend, George Brough, who built the motorcycles. His last motorcycle, George VIII, was on order when Lawrence died on George VII. Lawrence gave the same personal name to each of his motorcycles: Boa, which was short for Boanerges which means Sons of Thunder.

Lawrence wrote letters to George Brough praising his motorcycles. Here are some letters from 1926 signed by J. H. Ross and T. E. Lawrence (J. H. Ross was the name Lawrence assumed trying to hide his identity). Also shown is a picture of Lawrence on his Brough with George Brough in 1930. View the letters and picture here.

Here are some additional letters from 1932 and another picture of Lawrence on his Brough. They were signed by T. E. Shaw, the name Lawrence legally adopted using the same surname as his good friend and fellow motorcyclist, George Bernard Shaw.

He regularly rode with Lady Astor, the first British woman member of Parliament. A reference to Lady Astor, his naming of his bikes, and the last picture of him on George VII in 1935 are shown here.

Lawrence wrote about his motorcycles. Here is an excerpt from The Road about his beloved Boa.

He also wrote letters about his many crashes. They make for interesting reading, especially his last telegram home just before his fatal crash on May 13, 1935. See for yourself.

Lawrence stayed in a small cottage that he had fixed up. He is buried near there.

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Finally, there was a movie released in 1962 called Lawrence of Arabia. It's a long movie but the first 5 or 6 minutes of the film show Lawrence, played by Peter O'Toole, preparing his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle for his last journey. He gets on the machine and heads down the narrow country road at high-speed. You get to experience what it must have looked like when he tried to avoid two young boys on bicycles and swerved off the road and mortally injured himself. He wore no helmet. His bike was intact but Lawrence never recovered from the trauma. The world had lost one of its most interesting personalities and motorcyclists.

With the advent of YouTube videos, there are numerous videos appearing about Lawrence and his motorcycles. Here's one I found that shows a Brough Superior in action. Take a look.

How about you? Do you know some more famous people that I missed who have information listed on Web sites? If so, let me know or post to my Forum. Oh, and I'm also interested in famous living riders too, but that's another story.

Here's a link to an article that gives more famous riders. Some are duplicates of mine.

Back to read about other famous riders

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