1992 Britten V1000

Remembering a Remarkable Man—and his Motorcycle

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Alan Cathcart Archives

The first test of the Mark II was far from encouraging—the fork snapped off, with a TV camera on-board no less! Alterations were made to the design, however, and the bike’s potential was apparent during its very first racing outing, at the Daytona Battle of the Twins event in 1992. Despite a cracked cylinder in practice that caused New Zealand-born rider Andrew Stroud to start from the back of the grid, the Britten was soon running at the front and wheelying past Pascal Picotte’s works Ducati on the infield straights, until rain caused the race to be stopped. A flat battery (after the ignition was mistakenly left on during the break) was all that prevented Stroud and Britten from winning that event. The team made up for that mistake by winning the Battle of the Twins round at Assen later that year, followed by second place in the Pro Twins category at Laguna Seca. This was just the beginning of the Britten’s incredible stretch of Twins-racing success.

There was no BOTT race at Daytona in 1993, so instead Britten concentrated on setting a series of World Speed Records, including the 1000cc marks for standing-start quarter-mile, kilometer and mile, as well as the flying mile. When BOTT returned to Daytona in 1994, it was Britten-mounted Stroud standing at the top of the Speedway’s podium—a feat he repeated again in 1996, ‘97 and ‘98. Brittens also dominated the 1994 New Zealand Formula 1 national championship with rider Jason McEwan. True racing success arrived in 1995, when Stroud won the BEARS (British, European and American Racing Series) World Championship rounds at Daytona, Thruxton, Zeltweg, Brands Hatch and Assen, dominating on an international stage. Stephen Briggs, on a customer's Britten, clinched second in the series.

It was a fairytale ending for the eccentric man from Christchurch, and it wasn’t a moment too soon: John Britten passed away just three weeks after Stroud was crowned champion, following a brief battle with melanoma. His death meant the end of several projects under development, including a planned Britten Supermono with a liquid-cooled, six-valve single that used structural carbon-fiber crankcases to produce a roadracer weighing less than 200 lbs., ready to race. As it stands, the Britten Motorcycle Company built just 10 V1000/1100 Mark II motorcycles in their distinctive blue-and-pink livery that was inspired by a piece of decorative glass Britten owned and admired.

John Britten achieved a great deal in his short life. Those fortunate enough to have known him will remember his boyish smile, his shy stammer, his admiration for anything different or unusual, and his uncompromising drive for success. His memory is honored by any avant-garde two-wheeled design done right—especially one that’s proven on the racetrack. MC

Tech Spec

Evolution

The second-generation evolution of the V1000, with a minimalist carbon-fiber monocoque body and experimental front and rear suspension.

Rivals

Bimota Tesi, Ducati 888, Harley-Davidson VR1000, Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000, Saxon-Triumph.

Tech

Price NA
Engine type l-c 60-deg. V-twin
Valve train DOHC, 8v
Displacement 999cc
Bore x stroke 98.9 x 65.0mm
Compression 11.3:1
Fuel system Britten/Franklin EFI
Transmission 5-speed
Claimed horsepower 160 bhp @ 9700rpm
Claimed torque NA
Frame Carbon-fiber monocoque
Front suspension Britten double-wishbone parallelogram girder fork with single Ohlins shock
Rear suspension Single, pullrod-operated Ohlins shock
Front brake Dual AP four-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake AP two-piston caliper, 210mm disc
Front tire 120/60-17 Michelin Radial slick
Rear tire 180/67-17 Michelin Radial slick
Rake/trail 23 deg./3.8 in.
Seat height NA
Wheelbase 56.3 in.
Fuel capacity NA
Claimed curb weight 318 lbs.
Color Blue/pink
Verdict 5 out of 5 stars
Original, innovative and above all, effective, John Britten’s mechanical masterpiece is still ahead of its time!

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