Kiwi as

John Britten was, without doubt, a keen individual who inspired and surprised.  That he died at such a young age with so much potential unrealised is our loss. Quote.

John Britten was a revolutionary motorcycle designer whose home-brewed machine won international plaudits with its stunning design and performance. The 300+ km/h blur of speed, the smell of burning rubber and the distinctive roar of the Britten V1000 motorcycle linger over the tarmac of kiwi myth and the world of motorcycle design. From his backyard in Christchurch John Britten melded the edges of design and engineering, the acclamation testifying to a visionary talent: “man against the manufacturers”, design genius, engineer, artist, thinker, entrepreneur, “the last of the great privateers”, inventor, “Renaissance man” – as well as architect, builder, glider pilot and glass sculptor.

In a poll compiled by the world’s leading motorcycle writers to rank the Motorcyclist of the Millennium, John Britten was placed equal with the four founders of Harley Davidson. Guggenheim curator Ultan Guilfoyle, places Britten, as “the New Zealander who stood the world of racing-motorcycle design on its head.” He says Britten was among his best three exemplars of bike design and he lauds the V1000 as “perhaps the most influential racing motorcycle of the Nineties.” Variously described as state-of-the-art, novel, avant-garde, revolutionary, exotic, innovative, unique, as much an “organic thing of beauty” as a race-winning machine – the V1000 stormed the international circuit. It broke world speed records, and leaving the factory-built Ducatis and Hondas behind the blurred brilliance of its sleek aerodynamics.

“It’s the world’s most advanced motorcycle, and it’s not from Japan, Germany, Italy or America.” proclaimed the cover of American motorcycle magazine Cycle World.

The John Britten story is firmly from the fringes, an affirmation of one man’s passion for an idea battling against convention, resources and manufacturing might. He threw away the rulebook and built the world’s fastest bike in his spare time. The V1000 bears its edge DNA on its carbon-fibre skin: the Southern Cross is tattooed into the bold metallic blue, and the B of Britten’s signature is said to have been designed to resemble a kiwi … The prototype engine was baked in a backyard kiln and the shell modelled with No. 8 fencing wire and a glue gun. Patrick Bodden, describing Britten’s designs as the “privateer’s last stand” in an age of generic factory-born superbikes, writes in The Interactive Motorcycle:

“It takes someone like John Britten to remind us that individual thought and passion can still challenge and on occasion, beat the very best teams of engineers and the orthodoxy in which they have embedded current motorcycle design. Evolution alone won’t sustain such an effort – nothing short of revolution will do! In designing and building the motorcycle that bears his name, John pushed his reference materials to the edges of his work area and began with a blank sheet, an open mind, and a fertile imagination. His stunningly beautiful and effective creation affirmed for the entire motorcycling community the intrinsic value of working to build a better bike and the potential of an individual to make it happen.” End of quote.

John was born in Christchurch on 1 August 1950, and at a time when his prodigious creativity had only just begun to make its mark, tragedy struck. Britten died in 1995, aged 45, shortly after being diagnosed with melanomic cancer.  His inspiring story is told here.

Kiwi as, bro!


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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

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