From a Prominent European Collection,
c.1920 FN 285T Shaft Drive Single
Like BSA, La Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre ('FN' for short) began as a munitions manufacturer, turning to the production of motorcycles around 1900. Best known for its sensational four-cylinder models, the first of which appeared in 1905, the Belgian company demonstrated the same innovative spirit in the design of its singles being among the first to adopt unitary construction of engine and gearbox, permitting the use of geared primary drive. FN produced both chain- and shaft-driven bicycles and soon applied the latter transmission system to its motorcycles. In 1900 the firm's first powered two-wheeler was produced by mounting a clip-on engine to a bicycle frame, and in December the following year the first production model arrived powered by a 133cc single-cylinder engine. FN's single-cylinder models evolved gradually, growing in size firstly to 188cc and then 224cc, before arriving at 285cc in 1913 by which the atmospheric inlet valve had given way to a mechanically-operated one. Variable-pulley transmission had been introduced on the belt-driven singles in 1907 but would be superseded by shaft drive in 1910, its introduction coinciding with that of the two-speed gearbox.
Offered as a restoration project complete with most of its essential parts, this FN should prove to be a rewarding restoration project of a very interesting and early machine.