Francis Barnet 4 – 147cc – 1925


The Francis-Barnett 4, often referred to as the Model 4, is a noteworthy motorcycle from the early 20th century. Here’s a detailed overview of its specifications, manufacturer design, legacy, and some interesting facts, focusing on the 1925 model:


  • Engine: 147cc, two-stroke, single-cylinder
  • Bore and Stroke: Approximately 50mm x 58mm (specifics may vary slightly)
  • Power Output: Around 2.5 horsepower
  • Transmission: Two-speed gearbox with a belt final drive (early models may have had direct belt drive)
  • Top Speed: Approximately 40 mph (64 km/h)
  • Frame: Steel tubular frame
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Girder forks with spring dampening
    • Rear: Rigid (no rear suspension)
  • Brakes:
    • Front: Drum brake (or external band type, depending on the variant)
    • Rear: Belt rim brake (common in early models)
  • Fuel Capacity: Approximately 1.5 gallons (6.8 liters)
  • Weight: Around 150 pounds (68 kg)

Manufacturer Design:

  • Designer: Francis-Barnett was a British motorcycle manufacturer founded by Gordon Francis and Arthur Barnett in 1919. The company was known for its innovative designs and use of Villiers engines.
  • Aesthetic: The Model 4 featured a compact and lightweight design typical of the 1920s, with a focus on simplicity and functionality. It had a straightforward, utilitarian look with minimalistic bodywork.
  • Purpose: The Model 4 was designed as an affordable and reliable mode of transportation for the masses, suitable for commuting and light recreational use.
  • Build Quality: Known for its durability and ease of maintenance, the Model 4 was built to withstand the relatively rough conditions of early 20th-century roads.


  • Early Innovation: The Model 4 is a representation of early innovation in motorcycle design, particularly in the use of lightweight, efficient two-stroke engines.
  • Market Impact: Francis-Barnett played a significant role in making motorcycles accessible to a broader audience during the early years of motorcycling, contributing to the growth of the industry in the UK.
  • Collector’s Interest: Today, the Model 4 is a valued collector’s item, cherished by vintage motorcycle enthusiasts for its historical significance and classic design.

Interesting and Important Facts:

  • Villiers Engines: The use of Villiers engines in Francis-Barnett motorcycles was notable. Villiers was a leading engine manufacturer, and their reliable two-stroke engines contributed to the success of Francis-Barnett models.
  • Frame Design: Francis-Barnett was known for its “built-up” frame design, which allowed easy replacement of damaged sections, a significant advantage in the era’s often harsh riding conditions.
  • Affordability: The Model 4 was marketed as an affordable and practical option for everyday transportation, appealing to a wide range of riders, including those new to motorcycling.
  • Innovation in Simplicity: The design philosophy of Francis-Barnett focused on simplicity and ease of use, which made their motorcycles popular among riders who valued straightforward mechanics and reliability.
  • Post-War Production: Although the Model 4 itself was an early model, Francis-Barnett continued to produce motorcycles into the mid-20th century, adapting to changing technologies and market demands.


The Francis-Barnett 4 – 147cc – 1925 is an important model in the history of motorcycling. It represents the early days of motorcycle design, where innovation, simplicity, and affordability were key factors in making motorcycling accessible to a broader audience. Its legacy lives on through the admiration of vintage motorcycle enthusiasts and its place in the history of British motorcycling. The Model 4’s combination of reliable Villiers engines, practical design, and early adoption of replaceable frame sections highlights the ingenuity of early motorcycle manufacturers like Francis-Barnett.


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