Britten Motorcycle Company
In 1986 John Britten decided to redesign his bevel drive Ducati race bike by creating all his own body work, but the motor and chassis proved hopelessly unreliable. John then turned to a New Zealand made Denco motor in a home built frame. This motor also proved to be a weak link. So after much fiddling and rebuilding he decided to wipe the slate clean and start again creating a new race bike, motor and all.
John pictured his finished result first with a hot glue gun and a roll of number eight wire. All the body work was to be made out of carbon fibre. This string-like substance is lightweight but very strong. It is used in the making of yachts, ski-boots etc. The carbon fibre used was in two kinds, plain - used mainly on flat surfaces and twill which is more flexible used on corners etc.The woven carbon fibre is wetted out with resin and is then moulded and heat cured.
The motor was to be made by casting steel. John did all his own drawings, made his own patterns and designed his own engine. He designed two engines of differing cc ratings because some race events allow a higher cc rating - the Britten V1000 and the Britten V1100 racer versions in 4 and 5 valves per cylinder, with power varying between 155 and 170 bhp. The 1100cc engine is in the Cardinal bike.
The Brittens have had a very good race history. Back in 1991 they came 2nd and 3rd in the Battle of the Twins in Daytona USA. This version of the Britten had a full fairing and was quite different to the Brittens as we know them today. The Daytona version was painted blue and red with the stars from the NZ flag painted on the side. One of these two bikes has recently been restored at the factory as a precursor to the existing Britten. To this day the Britten has been placed in nearly every event that it has raced in.
The Britten has been so successful because what started out as a hobby in a garage at home, became a world class motorcycle recognised for its brilliance in engineering all over the world. Unlike established companies who invest huge amounts of money in the development work and are obligated to show a result for that money, John Britten perservered on a trial and error basis until he was successful.
Media coverage has helped to attract sponsors for racing by bringing the bike to the public eye. This has also attracted people to purchase Britten merchandise which supports the race programme, from all over the world.
The innovative use of carbon fibre gave the bike extra speed on the race track as it was so much lighter than conventional materials. The aerodynamics of the design also have given the bike extra speed. For his work on the bike John Britten was made an Honorary Fellow of the NZ Engineers Institute and posthumously they awarded him an Entrepenurial Engineer Award.
Since John's death the Britten Motorcycle Factory has scaled down the operation but continued to complete the 10 bikes that John had intended to build. To ensure the company's future the company have been actively seeking a joint venture partner to invest in a future