I photographed this Britten at a Ducati club meeting at Assen a few years ago. Rino Caracchi – the C in NCR – had come especially to see it. Despite Rino’s great love of and association with Ducatis, the Britten was not just his favourite V-twin, but his favourite motorcycle full stop. Having travelled to see it he even bought the T-shirt the proud owners were selling with a simple profile of the bike.
I was fortunate to see the evolution of John Britten’s racers at Barber’s museum and autumn festival, including the original Darmah based model. That had a very bulbous fairing that told of Britten’s obsession with aero, but he quickly realised two things: full fairings create problems with cooling, and they also increase frontal area. So while a full fairing might improve the co-efficient of drag (Cd), it increases frontal area (A): and because drag equals Cd x A you are improving one issue but creating another. And given a V-twin has a naturally small frontal area but that the rear cylinder can be a bugger to cool behind a fairing (especially if you want a narrow V angle to shorten the wheelbase) John Britten had a Eureka moment and got rid of most of the fairing.
Those wonderful curves at the bottom of the fuel tank and seat turned problems into advantages, slippery through the atmosphere while drawing cooling air to the cylinder heads. Like so much of this motorcycle, it was an elegant solution that nobody else had thought of. After years of doing the same for Ducatis at NCR, no wonder Rino Caracchi admired the Britten so much.
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