Crafted to Perfection: Britten V1000

Crafted to Perfection: Britten V1000

As enthusiasts, I’m sure you have read many interesting builds that came out of sheds with a clear vision in mind. For motorcycles, there is one that stands out like a pearl among the sand, the Britten V1000, a handbuilt bike from New Zealand that stirred up the hive back in the 1990’s. Built with sweat and tears by John Britten and his friends in Christchurch, this monstrous bike not only looks ballistic, but also broke a few records while at it. Let’s take a better look on this glorious creation that deserves to be the country’s pride.

Simple Principles: Key to Perfection

The creator of the bike, John Britten, stated that he prefers to “work from first principles” in a Cycle World interview back in the 90’s, and the V1000 couldn’t have been a better proof. His dream was a fast motorcycle that did not fit in among the common stuff like the European and Japanese brands, which meant that he already had a world of work on his shoulders knowing how motorbikes in the 90’s were rapidly advancing and bringing a new technology to the table each passing year. Britten was no stranger to this, however, and with the help of his bright brigade, and by sourcing bits and pieces like brakes, clutch and transmission, they managed to complete the first motorcycle in 1991, and it was ready for the public in a few weeks.

The V1000 was like no other; it did not even look and sound as if it was made by a few people in a shed. Well, a full carbon fiber bodywork does not, that is for sure. Everything was intricately designed for saving up weight and space and keep it as aerodynamic as possible. The radiator was under the driver’s seat, for instance. While it sounds unorthodox, it worked well as the radiator not only reduced drag but also kept the engine cool enough on high speed driving. The intake valves were also pushed closer to the front for better flow to the intake, also giving it an assymetric and unique look. Double wishbone front suspensions were also fitted for sticky handling. The 60 degrees V-Twin engine was chosen for its compact size and a frameless chassis was used to reduce the weight even more. The result is a raw, wild looking motorcycle with its blue exhausts sticking out, as if the whole machine was gutted after production. But not only it was a blissful sight for the eyes, it was also one for ears as V1000 was one of the fastest vehicles in the world upon introduction.

The water-cooled 998.7 cc V-Twin engine produced 166 HP @ 11,800 rpm and was driven by a 5-speed constant-mesh sequential manual transmission from Suzuki with a 6-speed offered as an option. It was fitted with a fuel tank with 24 liters of capacity. The most important part, however, is the fact that it weighs just 138 kg (303 lbs), an astonishing achievement and the reason why this motorbike set out to break records and give its foreign rivals a run for their money. And that is definitely the piece de resistance of this masterpiece.

Out of Shed to Crush the Competition

John Britten was a confident visionary, he did not think that V1000 would be a winner, he basically knew it would. That’s why he brought V1000’s to race at Battle of the Twins in Daytona International Speedway in 1992. While they bumped into a few catastrophic failures like cracked cylinder, leaking coolant and battery dying just before the finish line, giving Brittens a DNF result, the bikes still won the Battle of the Twins in Assen, Netherlands that year and a BEARs event a year later. But the competition for the V1000 was far from over, as it managed to break many world records in 1993, including the fastest clocked speed in Isle of Man TT (263 km/h) and a few other ones that I’ll mention below. While it broke many world records, it had to compliment it with a race win. Therefore, the bike was out for blood once more in 1994 Battle of the Twins in Daytona to finish what it had started two years prior. The Britten rider Jason McEwen was also motivated even more to give the competition a big beatdown.

The results were nothing short of spectacular. The Britten V1000 not only won the 1994 Battle of the Twins race in Daytona but also snatched a 1-2 win on New Zealand National Superbike Championship. It also won its second BEARs event a year later with the rider Andrew Stroud. As for the world record, the V1000 cracked the fastest speed clocked in Daytona International Speedway with its top speed of 303 km/h (188 mph). This record wasn’t just for under 1000cc category, it was the fastest record in general, including racing cars. Just the fact that a motorbike made in a shed with a few determined people can crack an all-time record on one of the most popular tracks in the world tells you enough about just how much of a monster John Britten and his team set out to create. So, the next time you talk to a motorbike enthusiast who has no idea what a V1000 is, enlighten them with possibly the greatest project ever.