In the June 1992 issue of Cycle World magazine
, there appeared on the cover a racing motorcycle
like no other. The headline read: "Stunner! The world's most advanced motorcycle" with the subtitle "It's not from Japan
, or America
Those familiar with modern motorcycles will immediately think, "Then where the hell is it from?" The answer - New Zealand. The bike was the Britten V1000.
In the 1992 SuperTwins race at Daytona, the Britten was the only bike, in any class (including the ostensibly faster Superbikes), to wheelie repeatedly out of the infield horseshoe. It had power to spare.
The Britten makes about 170 horsepower, displacing 999cc in two cylinders, and weighs just over 300 pounds. I'll let you ponder the consequences of those numbers before moving on to the interesting part.
The Britten is not a highly customized production bike. No, that wasn't good enough for John Britten. He first cast his own engine bloc from his own design (CAST HIS OWN ENGINE BLOC, for god's sake! Nobody does that!), designed an all-new chassis using a carbon fiber/kevlar "skin & bones" technique, implemented a new kind of leading-link front suspension (no telescoping forks), sculpted his own bodywork, turned his own (revolutionary in their own right) carbon fiber wheels, designed an intake manifold that itself is a work of art, and oh yes, broke ground in liquid cooling techniques.
John Britten, with the help of a few of his friends, created a world-class racing motorcycle from scratch.
As a motorcycle rider and racing enthusiast, this accomplishment astounds me even now. The Britten displayed a clear technological edge over the multi-million dollar Ducati effort, and even now, nearly a decade later, is a bleeding-edge piece of technology.
Tragically, John Britten died of cancer a few years ago. He is missed.
More info on the Britten V1000 can be found at www.britten.co.nz