Most of today’s younger generation probably has no idea who John Britten was. That’s not entirely their fault because Britten died in 1995. That’s right, September 2015 will be the 20th anniversary of his death and to those who do remember the legendary motorcycle builder, it’s enough reason to celebrate the man and his contributions to the industry, namely the Britten V1000 superbike.

To say that the Britten V1000 is rare would be a massive understatement. Only 10 models were produced by Britten Motorcycle Company and really, you’d have to scour the ends of the earth to find one that isn’t tucked comfortably in a collector’s garage. Guy Martin rode one back in January 2015, but he’s Guy Martin. Normal rules don’t apply to this man.

In any case, a handful of V1000s did make a rare joint appearance at Ruapuna Raceway in Christchurch, New Zealand to celebrate the 20th B.E.A.R.S. Sound of Thunder race festival. It should be noted that Britten was one of the founding members of the series and it was at Ruapuna Raceway where testing and development of the V1000 took place.

See the connection right there?

The tribute event to Britten was attended by Britten racers Andrew Stroud, Shaun Harris, and Loren Poole. Bob Robbins, the owner of the CR&S V1000 “Black Beauty” race bike, considered as one of the holy grails of the V1000 family, was also in attendance, adding to the impressive collection of V1000 bikes present in the same place.

Judging by the video created by Britten Motion Pictures, you can tell that the event was a resounding success. The V1000s were the expected highlights of the festival, but all in all, it was also a nice and fitting occasion to pay tribute to John Britten, the man who created the bikes in the first place.

Continue reading to read more about the John Britten tribute at the BEARS Sound of Thunder 2015 event.

Why it matters

I’ve never been fortunate enough to ride a V1000, much less see one in person. But from what I’ve been told, the bike’s legendary status is well-deserved.

Britten first conceived the idea of the bike back in 1993. Not long after the V1000 burst into the scene, it was already making headlines for all the right reasons, winning its share of races, including the Battle of the Twins in Daytona, and setting a handful of world speed records.

The V1000s were, in a word, revolutionary. Remember, a racing motorcycle that weighed just 304 pounds and was capable of reaching speeds in excess of 187.5 mph was thought of as impossible back in the 90s. Even today, there are only a handful of superbikes that can reach that mark without even so much as breaking a sweat.
But the V1000 could do all of that - 20 years ago!

Britten’s handcrafted masterpiece was so incredible for a start-up that it actually competed and won against more established racing bikes from Japanese and European manufacturers. The V1000 could’ve lasted longer in the public’s eye had Britten not succumbed to a vicious strain of malignant cancer that cost him his life. Sadly, the technology behind the V1000 accompanied him to grave.

In a lot of ways, Britten’s death actually helped grow the legend of the V1000, so much so that the Discovery Channel once named it the 6th Greatest Ever Motorcycle.

Whether that still rings true is irrelevant; what’s important is that pay homage to the man who made it all happen.

Source: Britten Motion Pictures

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: