To many enthusiasts
the FN four has always been one of the most
appealing machines of veteran and vintage
times. Its production ran from 1905 till 1926.
The earliest type had a 363 cc engine with
automatic overhead inlet valves and side exhaust
valves. The machine was single geared, had
shaft drive and the top speed was about 60
km/hour. The earliest four-cylinder FN was
used by Osmont on a widely publicised journey
through Europe in November 1904, terminating
at the First World "Salon de l'Auto" in Paris.
Except that the front fork was
unsprung, the machine was similar to the first
production model for 1905: the "Type A". The
major dating points for this model are the
finless cylinder heads, the absence of windows
to check the oil level in the crankcase, and
the straight inlet manifold that curves down
to meet the carburettor mounted behind the
cylinders The FN four was an immediate success
and found customers all over the world; FN
sold its machines in more than 40 countries.
It found many customers in the U.S.A. and
made Americans interested in the four cylinder
concept: Percy Pierce purchased a 1908 model
on one of his trips to Europe and the FN became
a point of reference for the first Pierce
Four in 1909.
The first motorcycles produced
were fitted with either 225cc and 286cc single
cylinder engines and were followed in 1905
by the introduction of the first of the famous
in line four cylinder models displacing either
496cc or 748cc. As a means of promoting the
new design M F Osmont rode an example around
Europe before arriving outside the Paris Salon
for the opening of the 1904 exhibition. In
1909 a new lightweight single cylinder model
was introduced weighing 120lbs.
This particular 204cc machine was
restored during the nineteen eighties
and has subsequently resided in a museum.
It displays the innovative engineering
that characterised FN products with
the engine being suspended between a
twin down tube frame with the crankshaft
running in line. It is fitted with a
front lamp and carries an oil can in
a mounting on the rear mudguard. The
brass fuel tank is complimented by black
cycle parts and plated front forks.
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