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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This thing is still amazing. Everything bolts to the engine as stressed members. The rear shock is in front of the engine, the rims, swing arm and front suspension system are all carbon fiber, the radiator is behind the engine in the lowest pressure area on the bike, so it takes advantage of the strongest airflow possible (half the size it would have to be otherwise). Bravo. Still.

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Britten was a very clever free thinker. Losing him at such a young age was a major loss to motorcycling.


Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Is this your bike?
I wish! One of less than a dozen made, scratch built in NZ. Sand cast 1000 cc vee twin completely original in design. Price is likely well over $1,000,000 if you could get someone to sell.
 

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As someone from the younger crowd, were these quirks they designed on the bike supposed to be a quality of life project or was this almost like finding perfection in where certain parts of the bike were stationed such as the rear shock being in the front?

I really like the rustic look of the gear driven belt, and the exhaust which looks as if it was apart of a rear fender, fully faired it was a very unique looking bike for its time personally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Britten and Musk would have had a lot in common.... they looked at engineering problems from a clean slate and questioned the choices made by everyone else. The rear shock, mounted ahead of the engine allows cooler air to hit it, which keeps the oil on profile longer -- better suspension action. Buell does something very similar with the below engine placement of theirs.

That freed up space 'behind' the motor has a fairly strong vacuum when the bike is in motion..... the part that needs the greatest flow of air is the radiator -- due to it being placed where there is 2X the air flow, it can be half as big as would be required on the front of the bike. Smaller radiator, means narrower bike.... which means less aerodynamic drag. Faster bike for less power. The fairings are incredibly small for a race bike; it really has a half fairing (bikini style) for the rider to tuck in behind, and since there isn't a radiator below, no need to have a fairing to smooth out that barn door -- just a little bump for the rider's knee, and one for his foot.

The entire front fork is a leading link (carbon fiber!) design, which separates suspension action from rake and trail changes as well as reducing 'stiction' -- telescopic forks bend under braking forces which make the bushings and seals bind on the tubes so they don't run as smoothly. The leading link design pivots on two same length rods that ensure the forward part keeps the same angle to the steering head. Because the rods are on bearings they deal with braking forces far more consistently than the bushings in a telescopic fork.

Britten was working with carbon fiber before it was a 'thing'. He made everything he could out of the stuff, on this bike. I doubt it weighs as much as a ZX6.
 

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Britten and Musk would have had a lot in common.... they looked at engineering problems from a clean slate and questioned the choices made by everyone else. The rear shock, mounted ahead of the engine allows cooler air to hit it, which keeps the oil on profile longer -- better suspension action. Buell does something very similar with the below engine placement of theirs.

That freed up space 'behind' the motor has a fairly strong vacuum when the bike is in motion..... the part that needs the greatest flow of air is the radiator -- due to it being placed where there is 2X the air flow, it can be half as big as would be required on the front of the bike. Smaller radiator, means narrower bike.... which means less aerodynamic drag. Faster bike for less power. The fairings are incredibly small for a race bike; it really has a half fairing (bikini style) for the rider to tuck in behind, and since there isn't a radiator below, no need to have a fairing to smooth out that barn door -- just a little bump for the rider's knee, and one for his foot.

The entire front fork is a leading link (carbon fiber!) design, which separates suspension action from rake and trail changes as well as reducing 'stiction' -- telescopic forks bend under braking forces which make the bushings and seals bind on the tubes so they don't run as smoothly. The leading link design pivots on two same length rods that ensure the forward part keeps the same angle to the steering head. Because the rods are on bearings they deal with braking forces far more consistently than the bushings in a telescopic fork.

Britten was working with carbon fiber before it was a 'thing'. He made everything he could out of the stuff, on this bike. I doubt it weighs as much as a ZX6.
Thanks for the information RJ, it really is a spectacular and one of a kind bike, think I'm going to dive into it a bit more after work today.
 

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The entire front fork is a leading link (carbon fiber!) design,
That is not a leading link fork, it is a Hossack design. The leading link design still uses a conventional steering head with the suspension action all at the bottom of rigid fork legs while the Hossack is much more like a formula car A-arm suspension turned 90 degrees.




Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Please, keep me honest! :)

Regardless I think this was one of a very small handful of truly innovative bikes that achieved their design goals. Britten died long before he could face down all of the nightmares involved in going from a garage build to large scale manufacture, so it's difficult to realistically determine if he would have been able to push it across that goal line and what the mass production article would have looked like in comparison -- still, one hell of an accomplishment.
 

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Thanks for posting up the photo. Amazing bike!

I had the privilege of being at Barber a few years ago when they had all but one of the bikes there during Vintage Festival. Several ran on track and it was amazing. I've spent time looking at the one they have in the museum and it is truly an amazing bike. Spent time just looking at the things you mention like the radiator and the suspension design and mounting. Also got to meet his wife and kids they are super nice folks.

For those interested in older bikes the Barber Vintage Festival is an amazing event. It attracts old to fairly recent racing bikes. The folks in the paddock are simply stunning. Dont know anyone who has competed in the Isle of Man? You will meet someone there who has or is, just ask around. On Friday night they have a fund raising dinner called Motorcycles by Moonlight. Usually the Grand Marshal speaks but the format varies and over the years I have met some amazing folks ranging from John Surtees to Freddie Spencer and lots of other folks. This year the Grand Marshal is Mary McGee who will be a very entertaining person to hear. In addition to the racing activities there is the swap meet, seminars in the museum and a lot of other stuff.
 

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Please, keep me honest! :)

Regardless I think this was one of a very small handful of truly innovative bikes that achieved their design goals.
I'm not dumping on you, just wanting everyone to understand what it is and not get confused on the terms. I've been interested in FFE (Funny Front End) designs on motorcycles since the early 90's, so it is near and dear to my heart. For anyone wanting to learn more have a look at these sites:


Motochassis Introduction » Motochassis by Tony Foale (go to the Articles section and read through everything Tony Foale has up there)

I agree 100% on Britten's abilities and accomplishment with this design, it is an amazing piece of machinery built largely by a guy in his garage with a small handful of skilled supporters. His garage is not the same as most garages, but it still is a home built machine by any reasonable definition of the term.


Mark
 

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Nope, share some links for our edification.


Mark
Sorry for the late response my 2 month old has knocked me off my feet and I’ve been completely busy building 2 bikes at the same time ha ha ha


I think it’s cool that the eldest son is in the fathers footsteps I did hear from a little little birdy is that they were making some bikes thoooo I am not 10000%
 

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Yeah that bike was light as hell! According to the interwebs, 303 lbs wet!! The motor is nothing special now, but for it's time in the 90s, that was a beast of a bike! I've never been too keen on that front end though. As an engineer I can appreciate people trying out different concepts and thinking outside the box, but some things are better left alone because there's been decades of research, testing and trial-and-error that has been done to reach a design that's deemed to be best. After all there is a reason why every sportbike and race bike out there has the same type of front end...2 fork tubes attached to clamps that connect to the steering head of the frame and axle with wheel at the bottom. That design is simpler and provides great feedback to the rider in what the bike and front tire are doing.
 

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After all there is a reason why every sportbike and race bike out there has the same type of front end...
Forks do have good features (the road feel they offer is the major one) but they also have serious downsides. The reasons why they are dominant have more to do with getting there first, conservatism on the part of racers and riders, an entire industry being built around them as an OEM supplier and tires being designed for their particular characteristics. Racer conservatism and tire design are the big two that keep FFE's out of international level racing.


Mark
 
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