1912 FN 4 Cylinder ; La Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre; 1912; CMM349


1912 FN 4 Cylinder

About this object

Like several other early motorcycle manufacturers, La Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (FN) began as an armaments manufacturer bu expanded to the production of motorcycles in 1900. The company's first four cylinder model was produced in 1904 and was first exhibited at the 1905 Paris Cycle Show. The 363cc air-cooled engine featured atmospheric inlet and mechanical exhaust valves, a five-bearing crankshaft, individual crankcase oil wells and a Bosch magneto ignition system. Final drive was via an innovative driveshaft housed inside the right-hand frame member.

The engine was almost continuously revised and redesigned, most notably progressing from having no cooling fins on the 1904 original through to the existing fins being enlarged on the 1910 model, largely to dissipate heat as its capacity increased to 410cc in 1906 and 498cc in 1910. The lubrication system was revised several times, as were the carburettor and manifolds, and a two-speed, hand-change gearbox was fitted within the driveshaft housing in 1911. The frame and running gear were also developed with the side plates of the front forks modified in 1908 to allow for a shorter steering head and in 1909 the brake system was modified to include a band brake on the outside of the brake drum. Longer guards were fitted front and rear and footrests were available as an option.

The 1912 model featured longer handle bars, an improved seat, a tubular rear carrier and a new stand, and a Bosch ZFN4 upright magneto with internal distributor was adopted in place of the earlier inverted magneto and external distributor. Optional extras included a clutch and valances on the front mudguard. Top speed was 40mph (64kph).

This 1912 example has undergone a restoration at some time and was purchased for the NZ Classic Motorcycles collection via an auction in Las Vegas of the E.J. Cole Collection in March, 2015. Transport World purchased it in May 2016.


La Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre

Maker Role


Date Made


Place Made

Herstal, Belgium

Object number


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