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Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (FN) 1913 Motor Cycle
Image: FN Motor Cycle
Source: Museum Victoria
The armament firm FN were one of the pioneers of motor cycle manufacturing, producing their first model in 1901. For many years they were the leading make in Belgium. They became famous for their shaft-drive designs built between 1903 and 1923, introducing the first production four-cylinder motor cycle engine. The frame and rear wheel are rigid with suspension in the front forks and the springs under the driver's saddle. It has a small single-cylinder side-valve engine rated at just 2.75 horsepower with a two-speed gearbox. The pedals were provided for starting and perhaps helping the engine on steeper hills. A stand is provided which lifts the rear wheel off the ground. This also allows the engine to be started while the bike was stationary if desired. It was promoted as "an ideal machine for beginners as well as those most experienced but is also the most handy and most practical machine for Business Men, Commercial Travellers, Country Doctors, Veterinary Surgeons etc".
A.G Healing Ltd in Melbourne began importing FN machines in 1903 but by 1913 the Victorian agency was held by E.W. Brown of 211-217 Swanston Street. FN agents in NSW were Bennett & Wood Ltd in Sydney who sold FN motor cycles under the Speedwell name. The larger four-cylinder FN was used in competitions such as the 100 Mile Race at Mortlake in Victoria. John and Reg Duigan, the builders of the first Australian-made aeroplane in 1910 both owned and raced four-cylinder FN machines. John Duigan sourced parts for the undercarriage of his biplane from E.W. Brown.