The 1905 FN Four was among the first of its kind. When the FN Four hit production in 1905, only a few other manufacturers had produced isolated examples of four-cylinder motorcycle engines; however, none had a leg to stand on in the face of competition from the FN Four.
Not the First of Its Kind, but Still the First in Line
Despite the fact that FN didn’t create the first four-cylinder motorcycle, common misconception holds that they did. The reason for this is that the FN Four was the first four-cylinder motorcycle to sell in large amounts and become massively popular for decades–and now centuries–to come.
FN got its start manufacturing weapons, like many other famous automobile manufacturers of today, including BMW and Mitsubishi.
Only when profit motives lead to a paradigm shift from guns to motor vehicles at the turn of the 20th century did FN begin manufacturing tools of transportation rather than destruction. Of course, FN never did completely give up on the weapons industry.
Unique Design Discoveries
The first FN Four hit the roads with a signature four-cylinder 362cc engine mounted in a bicycle-style, steel duplex cradle frame supported by a bottom-linked fork suspension in the front and a standard rigid suspension in the back.
This design and its corresponding 3.45 horsepower enabled the FN Four to not only reach high speeds but to maintain them with ease and reliability that allowed the rider to safely control the handling of the vehicle far better than other models with fewer pistons.
Timeline of Production
Unfortunately, only one generation of the world-famous FN Four was ever to enter production, lasting from 1905 to 1923.
- FN Four (1905-1923)
The original design for the FN Four was changed multiple times over the course of its production.
Engine displacement values changed perhaps more than any other aspect other than the horsepower of the vehicle. Between 1905 and 1923, displacement values changed from 362cc to 748cc.
The horsepower increased accordingly, rising from 3.45 to 4.5 by 1906, 5 by 1908, and 6 by 1909. The 6-horsepower limit would last throughout the rest of production for the FN Four.
News of the FN Four
In May of 2019, the FN Four was awarded Mention of Honor in the centenarian’s class in a motorcycle-judging competition, marking the continued reverence of the FN Four’s effect on the history of motorcycling.
Not a single prominent celebrity of today was ever old enough to drive an FN Four when they were still in production and unfortunately none have spoken about their support for the FN Four. That’s fine, however. The FN Four speaks for itself!
It’s quite a daunting task to hunt down any groups designed specifically for the discussion of a single motorcycle that ended production so many decades ago. If you’re intent on finding a group with which to talk shop, check out any of the many classic motorcycle groups on social media.
The FN Four – One of the First Classic Motorbikes
Going by its design, this machine is more of a motor-bicycle than a motorcycle. That said, the FN Four’s scrawny silhouette never stopped it from blazing a trail for all of motorcycle designers to follow for more than a century to come.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iKOHeL-mpI