Recently, the local art gallery put on an exhibition/display by a Kiwi artist who was presenting his personal homage to the mighty Britten. Interestingly, the gallery staff said that the opening event was the best attended of all recent exhibitions
Takes a motorcycle to draw the crowds huh. I don't think they had seen that much leather in the building before; well, not since the B&D exhibition of a few years ago anyway.
Note the reverential way that the guys are looking at the machine:
The display itself consisted of a Britten on a long white plinth and the back wall having outlines of the circuits where the bike met with success during it's campaigns. Apart from that, there wasn't a hell of a lot of other arty bits - but then again, I am not known for my cultural sensitivity
My classic bike group rode in and spent a goodly period of time standing in awe and celebrating the genius of a hometown boy. I got a bit too near for the liking of one of the staff who immediately and roundly chastised me for going too close. However, her concern was not for the uber-expensive and irreplaceable motorcycle. Rather, the artist had left explicit instructions that no one was to go near or (heaven forbid) touch the white plinth that the bike sat on
Apparently, this was more of an important part of the exhibition than the Britten itself.
Have a look at the plinth and let me know your objective, artistic thoughts (it was beyond me
A couple of weeks after the opening, we were treated to a presentation by people who were involved with the Britten during its development. We were also able to hear from John Britten's wife (Kirsteen). The presentation began with a clip from an upcoming new documentary about John Britten and the bike. His wife said it was an emotional experience for her as the clip contained interviews and material she had never seen before. One anecdote she shared was about John giving a talk to senior executives and R&D people from a major Japanese bike manufacturer. She said that John was always very open about his work and achievements and he freely discussed all manner of things re how the bike worked and its development. At the end, he asked if he could view the factory and the development areas - only to be told that some of those areas were "top secret" and he could not go there
We were lucky enough to have another Britten on display that we could get up close and personal with. This one apparently is the first production bike of the final product so to speak, and it is now back in the hands of the Britten family. It is taken around for exhibitions, race meets and displays. Although it bears the same number as the one in the gallery exhibition, you will notice differences between them.
The original team members started stripping the bike so that we could see what lurked underneath and contributed to its success
You will notice how easily the guy above is holding the front fairing - it is very light. That guy was responsible for the body work and painting. His brief was to get things as light as possible and apparently, John Britten kept going back to him to lighten the pieces. He even focused intently on the paint and how much of this was applied. Below, you can see the tank and the ducting that was built into it to help cool important pieces
Here she is in her naked glory
Unfortunately, quite a few spare parts (and tooling) were destroyed in the large 2011 earthquake we had here in Christchurch. This has had significant implications for the availability of parts to supply to owners of the 10 bikes around the world. However, the team are working on producing bits as they are able to try and keep the bikes going and performing. During the quake, the building where a number of Brittens were housed was badly damaged but a couple of dedicated (and brave) team members snuck past the Police cordons (during heavy aftershocks) under cover of darkness to rescue the bikes and trailer them out of the danger zone
It was mentioned that a lot of knowledge and skills related to the Britten development is still here in Christchurch with key team members. They also noted that there were suggestions made for performance improvement and different designs for parts of the bike during development but John Britten had firm ideas of how things were going to be - and they were followed. By all accounts, John Britten was a charismatic individual who inspired and motivated his team to produce the best, endure long, long hours and be creative plus think outside the box - all for the goal of bringing about a visionary motorcycle, developed in a small city at the bottom of the world that could take on the big factories with all their money and resources.
At the end of the talk, the team members were asked if they could/might produce an updated or "better" Britten with the knowledge and experience plus new technology of the twenty-first century. The answer was that this was very unlikely to happen as John Britten is not here to bind the team and lead it in such a venture...