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NeilBlanchard 12-11-2009 12:04 PM

John Britten: the ultimate "modder"?
John Britten designed and built these amazing machines: they have (at least) 5 major design elements: "skin & bones" carbon fiber wheels, beam suspension with no "stiction" and controllable geometry, 4-valve hand cast stressed member engine in frame-less chassis, unique aerodynamics (dubbed "torpedo over blade"), and the fully ducted cooling system that made this narrow design possible. It weighs just 145kg (320 pounds).

John Britten on Wikipedia
Top Gear on Britten
Isle of Man TT race video
Best Motorcycles Ever #6
Britten V1000 Superbike Motorcycle - History

These are especially delicious for us aspiring engineering types!

Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt1
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt2
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt3
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt4
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt5
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt6
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt7
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt8
Britten Bike Story - One Man's Dream Pt9

Front view showing cooling intake scoops:

Profile/side view showing all the goodness (carbon fiber wheels and beam suspension, stressed member engine, unique aerodynamics):

Rear cooling exhaust vent:

vtec-e 12-12-2009 06:22 AM

I saw that bike on display in a museum in Wellington, NZ. Very impressive considering it was a custom bike in every sense of the word. Way ahead of its time. Here is a link providing some tech spec: Britten V1000 motorcycle - Collections Online - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


SVOboy 12-12-2009 06:36 AM

I like the look of those wheels, but aren't the hands still sticking out in the airflow?

NeilBlanchard 12-12-2009 07:15 PM

Hi Ben,

Maybe a little, but there is a bit of a "pocket" created by the fairing. I had a BMW K75S:
(that is NOT me...)

This fairing protected my hands pretty well and the air off of the top of the windscreen hit me in the middle of my face -- I'm 6'-4", so I am taller than this fellow. I had to chop off about 1 1/2" from the top so that the air hit me in the lower part of my neck, and the rumbling noise was MUCH better.

koihoshi 12-15-2009 07:15 AM

That's an awesome bike and a very cool story!

Christ 12-15-2009 09:29 AM

As awesome as it would be to own one, I think I'd end up killing myself on it. I don't think I could resist lifting the front end up a little bit every time I hit the throttle, and that's what got me in trouble the last time I had a bike years ago... that and just speed in general.

That's why I bought a 180cc... :)

NeilBlanchard 12-15-2009 10:56 AM


I'm thinking that beyond the bike, which is awesome -- the fact that such an amazing machine was conceived of, designed, built from scratch in 11 months, and have it perform at such a high level is quite inspiring!

What sort of things are possible if one wants to build an uber-efficient EV in a backyard workshop?

dcb 12-15-2009 12:14 PM

the bikeness helps though, as it sweeps away most delusions about safety and the nannies don't even bother tearing it down based on its differences from other bikes.

NeilBlanchard 12-15-2009 05:41 PM

Some of the things that John Britten (and a small group of friends and associates) accomplished in ~11 months:

Redesigned his V1000 v-twin four valve engine to be an 1100cc, hand cast all the metal parts, heat treated & machined everything, flow tested, and on the dynamometer -- where it produced 170BHP.

Designed and build a front and rear girder suspension out of carbon fiber, that bolt to the engine.

Designed the aerodynamics of the whole motorcycle and cooling system, that has an intake port on the nose of the fairing, is ducted through to the radiator which is under the tail section -- that worked the first time. All this bodywork and the seat subframe are fabricated out of carbon fiber, natch!

Designed and built carbon fiber wheels, using a unique structural scheme, that is referred to as "skin & bones".

Designed and programmed a custom computer system that recorded all the important data from the engine (unique in motorcycle racing at the time).

The list of things that they did NOT build from scratch:

transmission (sourced from Suzuki, IIANM)
battery and sparkplugs and other assorted electrical components
[Edit: cylinder sleeves ]

Totally amazing, really! I see a lot of parallels between the Britten and the Aptera...

Christ 12-15-2009 05:57 PM

Neil -

The project and finish times are nothing short of amazing, that's for sure. I'd be wifeless if I attempted anything remotely similar, the time invested.

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