John Britten was a backyard visionary whose small team created the world’s most innovative motorcycle, the Britten V1000, on a shoe-string budget in his garage in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The race bike took on the worlds biggest manufacturers and won, breaking four world speed records and attaining legendary status for its revolutionary ‘frameless’ design in the process.

Built from scratch with a water-cooled petrol engine, a carbon-fibre body painted green and black bearing the stylised Britten signature, it represented hundreds of hours of rushed work by John and his friends to get it ready for the March 1989 Daytona Pro Twins race.

To keep the bike slim, the radiator was mounted horizontally under the seat, cooled by air from ducts in the front fairing and ducted out at the back to fill the wake, increasing lift and speed. The rear shock absorber filled the space where the radiator would ordinarily be, keeping the weight forward. The slimline V-twin engine was kept at a 60-degree angle and mounted forward for better weight distribution. The distinctive blue spaghetti-like exhaust also kept the bike slim.

In 1993, Britten #2 (the one on the pedestal at Te Papa) set four world speed records for motorcycles of 1000 cc and under, reaching, in the flying mile, 302.705 km/h. The records still stand today.


Engine: Water cooled 999cc 60 deg V-Twin
Power: 166 HP @ 11,800 RPM
Transmission: 5 speed constant mesh / opt 6 speed.
Front Suspension: double wishbones with girder
Rear Suspension: swing arm with adjustable three bar linkage.
Shock Absorbers: Ohlins
Fuel Tank Capacity: 24 litres
Maximum speed: 303 km/h


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