I received a phone call one morning from Doug Randall who said come to the shop and see something special. I drove to Newbury and saw set out in the workshop a pair of brightly coloured motorcycles. Well, they had two wheels and an engine but in many other ways they departed from the norm. ----
Radical indeed !!!!----The engine WAS the frame and the radiator was set in a ducted passage under the seat--The engine was so narrow that the widest part of the bike was the rear tyre--a very special front fork was developed as a carbon fibre double wishbone parallelogram which almost mirrored the swinging arm--damping could be controlled by the rider---John Britten made the wheels from carbon fibre as well.... (Total weight of machine only 141 kg !) Engine capacity could be either 1000cc or 1100cc with four or five valve heads on 60 degree V-Twin.. The engine had titanium con rods, computer controlled fuel injection, and pistons from Judd F1 car engines.. !! The engine WAS the frame and the radiator was set in a ducted passage under the seat--The engine was so narrow that the widest part of the bike was the rear tyre--a very special front fork was developed as a carbon fibre double wishbone parallelogram which almost mirrored the swinging arm--damping could be controlled by the rider---John Britten made the wheels from carbon fibre as well.... (Total weight of machine only 141 kg !) Engine capacity could be either 1000cc or 1100cc with four or five valve heads on 60 degree V-Twin.. The engine had titanium con rods, computer controlled fuel injection, and pistons from Judd F1 car engines..
Signed on the fuel tanks was the name "Britten" and after I was introduced to the mechanics working on them I met John Britten who had designed and built these awesome machines. I was totally enthralled when Doug told me that Shaun Harris, who had ridden Dougs Suzukis for the preceeding years had managed to set up a semi-works ride on the Britten.
I spent much of my spare time seeing these bikes being stripped and rebuilt and was pleased to be invited to see it in that years TT. I was already booked up to go so I set out as usual to get the ferry. Once on the Island I went up to the first practice and ended up having to assist in pushing the Britten into life....It was a large capacity twin with a high compression so we pushed the length of the parc ferme before it burst into life. And the noise was superb, I had heard it in Dougs workshop but somehow. at the TT it sounded louder and crisper.. Shaun took it out and returned with eyes wide open, with a strange few words which I thought were New Zealand for WOW !! "The V1000 was clocked as the fastest through the official speed trap at the Isle Of Man on it's debut with rider Shaun Harris. It was faster than the factory-supported Honda RVFs." Shaun started 23rd on the road and worked his way up to fifth before a minor oil filter problem forced him to retire.
(from the Britten website)
It was a very interesting year and Shaun did well to ride the machine.
The Britten returned to the 1994 TT races as a team of three; Nick Jefferies, Robbie Holden and Mark Farmer were the riders--The Britten had won the 1994 "Battle of the Twins" at Daytona in the hands of another development rider Andrew Stroud
Just after the Daytona win and just before the TT I had a phone call asking who I would recommend to ride the Britten in the TT....I replied without any need to think, "Nick Jefferies" who had won the TT recently. Nick was approached and was given the ride and I set Nick up with new leathers manufactured for him in the Isle of Man..
I was invited up to Mallory Park by Nick to see him putting the Britten through its paces. The photograph above appeared in the MCN showing Nick, TTfan and Richard Rose at Mallory. Mark Farmer arrived to watch Nick...
The Britten Team stayed at Dougs until they were ready to go over to the TT...
I did a number of articles for Britten that year getting information direct from John in New Zealand. One particular article was written for an Irish magazine who unfortunately published it with a number of mistakes. They got things like the capacity wrong, etc...
When I arrived that year on the Island I went up to the "Nook" where the Britten team was based. I walked into meet an angry John who took me to task about the mistakes and clearly he was not pleased. He was not a well man at that stage so I stayed clear, getting the info I needed from Loren Poole and Nick.. The TT was marred by the death of one of the team (Mark Farmer) who was riding the CRS version of the Britten (yellow and black) and Nick rode the shocking pink and blue model... Robbie Holden apparently decided not to ride the Britten at the TT so it was left to Nick to ride the only one of the three entered. Rain water got into the Electronic Control Unit which was in the front of the fairing so the bike became temperamental. At the time it was thought that the unit had been affected by the radar/transmitter/relay up on the mountain so the mechanics tried wrapping the unit in foil !!!
Photograph above taken from Kneales Tower.
Nick did well under the circumstances, riding the Britten so that he did not disappoint the fans who had come to see the revolutionary machine....Poor John died a few years later and Shaun rode the Britten once more in memory of John and the Britten almost finished the race..
From the Britten website:- A Britten V-1000 has been granted the prestigious No. 1 plate for the world's most dangerous and demanding motorcycle road racing meeting, the notorious Isle of Man TT, early next month.
Bestowed by the organisers as a tribute to the late John Britten who designed the futuristic racer, the plate gives the New Zealand bike the advantage of being first on the road for both the Formula One race, on June 1, and the Senior TT, on June 7.
Riders start at 10sec intervals in the two main 386km races on the treacherous mountain circuit, where speeds approaching 300kmh are achieved.
British-based New Zealand rider Shaun Harris has been chosen to ride the Britten TT entry, a bike privately owned by Italian racing enthusiast Roberto Crepaldi, but raced with the full backing of the Christchurch Britten Motorcycle Company.