I’d never heard of the Britten motorcycle until I moved to New Zealand in 1997. But in the motorsport-mad Land of The Long White Cloud, John Britten is a household name—and rightly so. His V1000 has been described as ‘the greatest motorcycle ever built’, because Britten effectively built it in his own backyard, and it trumped the works machines on the racetracks.
Designed in 1991, the Britten had a carbon fiber frameless chassis and carbon fiber wheels. The front suspension was an adjustable double wishbone girder-type, and the 999 cc V-twin put out over 160 bhp. (As an aside, this was one of the first race bikes to use data logging.) In 1992 the Britten V1000 won the Dutch round of the Battle of The Twins, and in 1994 the Daytona round. In between those victories, the V1000 smashed four motorcycle world speed records: the standing start quarter mile, mile and kilometre, and the flying mile at 302kph.
Tragically, just as the motorsport world realised there was a giant-killer on the scene, John Britten succumbed to cancer. He died in 1995—leaving us to wonder what might have been if he’d carried on developing the V1000.
The documentary One Man’s Dream: The Britten Motorcycle Story has just been remastered and re-released, with additional, never seen before footage.