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Object: Britten V1000 motorcycle

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Title Britten V1000 motorcycle
Production Britten Motorcycle Company Ltd (manufacturer(s)), 1991, Christchurch
Materials synthetic fibre, carbon fibre, rubber, steel, aluminium, titanium
Classification motorcycles
Dimensions Overall: 1170mm (Height) x 2000mm (Length) x 820mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Purchased 1995 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number T000649

Built in 1992, the Britten V1000 motorbike is regarded as a contemporary classic of motorbike design. Te Papa's motorbike is the second of only ten in the world.

The motorbike is the brainchild of John Britten (1950-1995), a New Zealander who had a dream to make the fastest four-stroke motorbike in the world. Britten began designing and building in his garage-workshop, initially trying to remodel the bodywork of his Ducati racer. Twelve years later, assisted by a small group of racing bike enthusiasts, he produced an entirely new motorbike - one that demonstrated a leap forward in motorbike engineering and aesthetics.

Built for speed
The Britten motorbike was built for speed. Carbon fibre, Kevlar, and modern technical features made the wheels, and the bodywork very light. The motorbike has no frame - the engine is a fully stressed unit that all the components are attached to. A sophisticated aerodynamic shape also increased speed.

Britten even designed his own engine from scratch. Some specialist parts from other motorbike manufactures were used but most of engine was made locally. He also installed a computer on board that could monitor and record six different mechanical functions.

Award winner
When the motorbike first appeared on international racetracks in 1990, it turned heads. Although visually stunning, the power and flexibility of the motorbike's performance drew the most comment. It went on to become the only motorbike designed and built in New Zealand to have won both the National Championships and the New Zealand Grand Prix. It also holds four official world speed records, all gained in 1993.

See the documentary Britten: Backyard Visionary at NZ On Screen

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.