Famous Dyslexics: #6 John Britten


The Britten motorbike , now on display at Te Papa Museum in Wellington (New Zealand), broke world records and won numerous races including the Isle of Man where it recorded the fastest top speed.  It is called the Britten Superbike and was designed and built by one man, working in his garage at home in New Zealand.  That man’s name was John Britten and John Britten was dyslexic.

John struggled with reading and writing and at school, his teachers constantly telling him that “he could do better.”  He couldn’t remember words and was always having to work them out like he never seen them before.  He had amazing ideas, but struggled to get those ideas in words down on paper.

His gift with art, design and mechanics soon became apparent.  As a child he drew his designs in a book he had titled “Plans.”  In high school he topped the class in Art.

Britten became a design engineer.  He spent twelve years restoring an old stable into a stunning home.  He designed and built every detail, even casting his own taps and door handles.

The hand-built superbike (below) showcases John’s innovation and determination.  He didn’t modify designs – he started from scratch using new and radical ideas.  Instead of drawing his plans, he used wire to frame the initial shape of the bike.  John used his dyslexic gifts to create what was described as “the world’s most advanced motorcycle.”


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