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Britten Motorcycles

Britten 1990, Undressed

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From the former NZ Classics site...

"After the Denco engine John Britten used on his first, New Zealand-made, Aero-D-One bike proved to have inherent weaknesses, he set about designing and building his own engine. It resembled the Denco engine in so far as it was a 60-degree V-twin, but it was liquid cooled and achieved new levels of design strength and sophistication. With help from friends, wooden mock-ups were made for the castings with the cylinder head shape fabricated from thin layers of balsa wood carefully overlaid to create the perfect shape for the inlet port. As with the Aero-D-One, the engine/gearbox unit provides a stressed member of the frame with the rear swinging arm and composite monocoque frame bolted directly to it. The composite bodywork is a variation of that on the Aero-D-One although it is wider in order to accommodate the radiators and the beak over the front wheel was eliminated. To save money, the brake discs and callipers from Aero-D-One were "borrowed" leaving it without them to this day!

John decided to target the popular Battle of the Twins/Pro Twins race at Daytona, Florida. At its first outing at Daytona in March, 1989, Gary Goodfellow, an ex-patriot New Zealander based in Canada, achieved strong results in practice and led the pack into the first corner of the race, out accelerating even the factory Ducatis, only to encountered fuel injector problems early in the race. Back in New Zealand, where Britten had established Britten Motorcycles, the bike was further developed and a second, identical one manufactured. For the 1990 Daytona event, Goodfellow and fellow Kiwi, Robert Holden, rode the two bikes to finish in the top ten. In 1991, Canadian, Steve Crevier, and Australian, Paul Lewis, contested the Daytona event again with Lewis bringing his bike home in second place.

With the Britten’s reliability and power becoming established on the world stage, John began to be approached about possible engine supply by luminaries including Fritz Egli and the team at Bimota, both of whom rely on outsourced engines for their fine products. These approaches presented him with a dilemma. Should he produce and supply engines as a revenue stream or continue to go it alone and make race bikes for his own interest? However, a deciding factor was the fact that during the warm-down lap at Daytona, Doug Polen, who had won on a Ducati, pulled a huge wheelie past Paul Lewis to emphasise that the Britten had not been fast enough to win. John decided to develop his bike further and go back to Daytona.

Back in the workshop in Christchurch, he started again with a fresh piece of paper to draft the concept that he already had in mind. The resultant new bike is the one known the world over in its dramatic pink and blue colour scheme. It must have provided John and his 1992 rider at Daytona, Andrew Stroud, with immense pleasure when Andrew drew up alongside the leading bike, not on the warm-down lap but at full racing speed, and pulled a huge wheelie.

The Precursor Britten V-1000, which represents such an essential chapter in the history of the Britten motorcycle, is on loan to NZ Classic Motorcycles from the Britten Family Trust."

New Zealand Classic Motorcycles

The museum formerly at Napier housed an extraordinary collection. It has moved to the home of the World's Fastest Indian.

More information: New Zealand Classic Motorcycles.