You didn’t critically suppose we had been going to speak in regards to the coolest sportbikes of the ‘90s and never speak about maybe the only most superb sportbike of all time, did you? That’s a powerful assertion, to make sure, however nothing earlier than it and nothing since is as spectacular because the bike that John Britten designed and in-built his small New Zealand storage. I’ll stand by these phrases. The primary-gen V1000, and later second-gen V1000/V1100 had been rolling experiments on which Britten’s concepts, and sensible options to issues are seen for all to see within the ultimate type the bikes took. Aside from just a few elements that he sourced, equivalent to brakes, pistons, transmission, and clutch, the remaining he constructed from scratch in his workshop, with a small group of craftsmen. He was really a once-in-a-generation kind of man.
Britten informed Kevin Cameron in a June 1992 story in Cycle World that he likes to “work from first rules” slightly than to develop the designs of others. This one assertion explains a lot about how the bikes he designed and constructed got here to be. In complete, 10 bikes had been constructed, six previous to Britten’s demise from most cancers in 1995 and 4 posthumously, as he had promised to construct that quantity at minimal.
So lots of Britten’s selections had been based mostly on discovering options to the bike’s effectivity. Initially had been the bike’s aerodynamics. The 60-degree V-twin engine was chosen due to its slim width, whereas so lots of the related elements had been designed or positioned to perform these targets. All the time additional searching for options, as soon as his first-generation bike was three years previous, Britten began pursuing enhancements.
Cameron picks it up right here: “However the place ought to his effort go? Into a brand new four-valve cylinder head? Or a five-valve? Or possibly he ought to develop a novel aerodynamic and cooling idea? Main-link forks him; he felt none seen to this point was a lot good, and he needed to strive concepts of his personal. And Marvic magnesium wheels are costly; maybe he might get monetary savings and take a look at some concepts by making his personal wheels—in carbon fiber.
“Any engineer can be proud to achieve simply a kind of developments. Certainly, most of these ideas are clearly an excessive amount of for total factories, whose output of innovation is intimately enchancment, not nice leaps ahead. John Britten determined to sort out all of them: two new cylinder-head designs, recent aerodynamics, the fork, and the wheels.”
Beginning with the aerodynamics, he had discovered by means of testing on a 20-mile lengthy, straight street that his absolutely faired bike was slower than the earlier half-faired bike. Cameron continued: “Britten’s reply had two elements. One, by eliminating the vast decrease fairing, he would cut back the world of the wake. Two, he would fill what wake there was with fast-moving air from two sources. The primary supply can be air passing between the rider’s calves and the slim engine-gearbox unit; the second supply can be radiator-exit air, delivered from a totally ducted cooling system.
“On account of this method, Britten’s new racebike is constructed like a torpedo atop a knife blade,” Cameron stated. “The torpedo is the windscreen, and entrance fairing, the rider’s physique behind it, and the tapering seat again behind that. Under is the blade, consisting of the entrance and rear tires, plus the slim engine. Small ‘boot fairings’ present protection for the rider’s ft.”
Putting the bike’s radiator beneath the seat helped scale back the bike’s frontal space as he didn’t need the drag. Air was ducted by a pair of slits within the entrance fairing to the radiator after which out into the low-pressure zone within the bike’s wake. Regardless of being pretty small, the radiator stored engine temps round 176 levels.
One other space he was eager to discover had been the cylinder heads. “A serious supply of impaired consumption move in cylinders heads is the masking of valves on account of their closeness to the cylinder partitions,” Cameron stated. “Britten determined to scrap the concept of symmetry in favor of transferring the consumption valves nearer to the roomy center of the cylinder. This pushed the exhausts, and the spark plug with them, nearer to the entrance wall. He selected a 99mm bore, partly as a result of he might simply acquire a contemporary Omega three-ring piston of amazingly gentle weight in that measurement, designed initially for the Judd V-10 System One auto racing engine.”
With a view to shorten improvement time and on account of his restricted sources, Britten constructed his personal cylinder-head buck and experimented on the move bench, build up the consumption after which exhaust ports in clay and adjusting till he obtained what he needed. As soon as happy he made castings, cleaned them up and, growth, he had 170 hp at 9,500 rpm on the dyno. Consumption tracts on every cylinder had been positioned dealing with the within of the Vee, in order that they might simply be fed by the airbox and throttle our bodies that had been positioned there. Which meant that exhaust ports had been dealing with ahead on the entrance cylinder and rearward on the again. For the reason that major exhaust tubes had been tapered and wanted to be of equal size, and there was no simple method to fabricate them, every exhaust system took round 60 hours to construct. Therefore their pile of spaghetti look.
There have been two engine variations to stick to racing guidelines: 985cc with 99 x 64mm bore and stroke dimensions, and 1,108cc with 99 x 72mm measurements. It had double overhead cams that had been belt pushed, whereas the compression ratio was 11.3:1, valves had been titanium, as had been the connecting rods. Induction was from a pair of sequential injectors for every cylinder (at a time when only some super-rare manufacturing bikes featured EFI, just like the Honda NR750 and Yamaha GTS1000).
One other vital enterprise was the suspension, and specifically the girder fork, as Cameron defined: “Britten selected the essential girder idea utilized by Fior and Hossack due to the flexibility of its geometry. A pair of main hyperlinks tasks ahead from the entrance of the bike at steering-head peak, every with a ball joint at its ahead finish. Hooked up to the 2 ball joints is a girder, every of whose two legs clamps to an finish of the entrance wheel’s 47mm tubular-aluminum axle. Steering management is thru a scissors-link from the girder to a set of handlebars pivoted within the traditional location. For Britten, the large query was, what geometry ought to he select? Fixed-wheelbase? Zero-dive? Anti-dive?
In the long run, he determined to “reject all of those—for social causes,” Cameron added. “Riders are accustomed to the cues they get from typical forks which, among the braking pressure serves to compress the fork. Britten subsequently made his girder fork initially pro-dive, identical to a telescopic fork. Within the final 1.6 inches of the whole 4.7 inches of front-wheel journey, this modifications to a considerably anti-dive conduct.”
His first iteration of the carbon fiber fork failed on the bike’s maiden take a look at on the Ruapuna racetrack, sending take a look at rider Chris Haldane to the bottom with a damaged collarbone; this was simply eight weeks earlier than they meant to race at Daytona. His redesign was carried onto all of the remaining bikes and by no means failed once more. The carbon fiber swingarm was so forward of its time that solely in recent times have MotoGP groups began to undertake them.
Just like the bodywork, fork, and swingarm, which he crafted by build up a skeleton of aluminum welding wire held along with sizzling glue to create the form, then overlaying it in foam to create the molds, he used the identical technique to make his personal carbon fiber wheels. As soon as he had created his prototype wheel, he took it and a manufacturing magnesium racing wheel to a testing middle, the place it was examined for deflection and power. His first batch solely had 60 % of the deflection of the manufacturing wheel and handed the destruction assessments with flying colours. He was then happy sufficient to make up 5 fronts and rears every.
Success might be measured in some ways, and for positive, the Brittens had achieved superb acclaim just by their existence. He had actually conceived and constructed issues that nobody had seen earlier than. Take into consideration just some of the unconventional options, like the truth that the bike didn’t have a standard body, the unconventional girder entrance finish, the carbon fiber wheels and bodywork, the rear shock that was positioned in entrance of the engine and actuated by an under-engine pushrod, the underseat radiator, an engine that he solid after which baked in his spouse Kirsteen’s pottery kiln then quenched with swimming pool water in a bucket, and most evident was his consideration to aerodynamics like nobody had seen earlier than. This listing might go on and on. However keep in mind this was additionally the early ‘90s. It was radical. And it labored, fairly properly.
When you’re going to construct a racebike, nothing earns you kudos like on-track outcomes. From the very starting, the Britten was meant purely as a racebike, with little or no curiosity paid to anything (he had scrapped the concept of supplying Bimota with engines). With solely a handful of bikes ever being constructed, it was the rarest of birds, however the bike achieved superb leads to the courses it was eligible in. On the time, a lot of the worldwide courses it was allowed into had been for twin-powered machines, like AHRMA Battle of the Twins, AMA SuperTwins, the British European American Racing and Supporters (BEARS) World Championship which Britten helped create, Professional Twins, the New Zealand Nationwide Superbike sequence, and on the Isle of Man TT’s System One and Senior TT races.
Proper out of the gate, the bike raised some severe eyebrows. At Daytona in 1992 within the AMA SuperTwins race—after the crew stayed up all evening repairing a cracked cylinder, brought on by leaking coolant—fellow New Zealander Andrew Strowd shortly moved from twelfth to battling Ducati-mounted Canadian Pascal Picotte on the manufacturing unit Quick by Ferracci Ducati for the lead, solely to have an incorrectly put in battery die with the end in sight. However regardless of the frustration, David had given Goliath a severe run. Throughout the race Stroud was pulling up alongside Picotte on the rear wheel and clearly had the quicker bike. Stroud informed Cycle Information’ Henny Ray Abrams after the race: “Just a few occasions down the straight I used to be solely three-quarters throttle. John’s fairly intelligent. Many of the issues he does work.”
However from that time ahead, with fixed tinkering and improvement, the bike began profitable races. After Stroud took a second-place end at Laguna Seca within the AMA SuperTwins race just a few months later (albeit 16 seconds arrears of Picotte), it went on to win a trio of races that 12 months in BEARS and Battle of the Twins competitors. The next 12 months the bikes principally cleaned up within the NZ Grand Prix sequence and took first and second within the New Zealand Nationwide Superbike Championship the next 12 months.
Britten’s first stab on the Isle of Man TT was in 1993 the place Shaun Harris rode the Cardinal Britten within the Senior TT. After electrical points in qualifying, Harris began method again within the subject, and finally had an oil-filter failure finish his race, however he did document the quickest high pace of the race at 164 mph. For the following try, the next 12 months, Britten put collectively a star-studded lineup that included Nick Jefferies, and Mark Farmer on Roberto Crepaldi’s buyer Britten. However the try led to tragedy when Farmer was killed in apply on the ultra-quick Black Dub part.
Nonetheless there have been successes in 1994 with extra wins and a bunch of land-speed information. However in ‘95, the 12 months John Britten succumbed to most cancers, the bike had arguably its most dominating season. Profitable the European Professional Twins race at Assen, then Stroud and teammate Stephen Briggs dominated the BEARS World Championship, ending one, two within the sequence and profitable all however one race. You’ll be able to watch the Brands Hatch round here. Stroud received the AHRMA Battle of the Twins at Daytona in 1994 (additionally recording the fastest-ever high pace by a bike on the speedway at 189 mph), after which once more 1995, 1996, and 1997. After John’s demise, the bikes continued to rack up wins. Eight extra wins each in ‘96 and ‘97, after which a pair extra to shut out the millennium.
If there may be one time period to explain John Britten and his bikes, it must be world beaters. The quantity of success that was achieved is really superb, particularly when you think about the entire innovation that was on show, and the truth that these improvements weren’t simply novel concepts however truly carried out on the highest degree potential the place the bike competed. His free-thinking creativity will endlessly stay on within the machines that bear his identify.
When you’ve by no means seen a Britten in individual, go to the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, the place Britten No. 7 (serial No. P004) resides. Or you may also go to the Solvang Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, California, the place the ultimate and tenth Britten (serial No. P008) is on show.
1992–1995 Britten V1000/1100 Specs
|MSRP:||$100,000 (1992 Worth for Buyer Bikes)|
|Engine:||DOHC, liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin; 4 valves/cyl.|
|Displacement:||998cc / 1,108cc|
|Bore x Stroke:||99.0 x 64.0mm / 99.0 x 72.0mm|
|Claimed Horsepower:||170.0 hp @ 9,500 rpm|
|Gas System:||Sequential gas injection, 2 injectors/cyl.|
|Engine Administration/Ignition:||Programmable engine administration|
|Body:||Full careworn engine/frameless|
|Entrance Suspension:||Double wishbone w/ girder w/ Öhlins shock|
|Rear Suspension:||Carbon fiber swingarm w/ front-mounted, pushrod-actuated Öhlins shock|
|Entrance Brake:||4-piston Brembo calipers, twin 320mm cast-iron discs|
|Rear Brake:||Brembo caliper, 220mm disc|
|Wheels, Entrance/Rear:||carbon fiber; 17 x 3.5 in. / 17 x 6.0 in.|
|Gas Capability:||6.3 gal.|
|Claimed Dry Weight:||304 lb.|