Francis-Barnett Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Francis Barnett 1920s

Francis-Barnett 1920 Models

344 cc. twin Villiers two-stroke at the 1926 Olympia Show:

In collaboration with the Villiers Engineering Company Messrs. Francis and Barnett are producing a novel 344 cc. twin two-stroke. This will have the two cylinders arranged vertically in a monobloc casting with the crankshaft lying along the centre line of the machine.

Motor Sport Magazine

Model 9 172-c.c. Super Sports 1927 (penned in 1949)

In September the two-stroke enthusiasts got a look-in, a Model 9 172-c.c. Super Sports Francis-Barnett being tested. This little motor-cycle came equipped with really efficient leg-shields, which called forth high praise, yet which could be removed in three minutes when required. An adequate metal toolbox was carried beneath the tank, but the petrol pipe rather impeded withdrawal of the simple tool-roll.

The engine seized-up twice in the early stages, fusing over the rings on the induction side, but when fully run-in, and using "Mixtrol" as well as ordinary lubricant in the fuel, no further trouble was experienced. Indeed, mit leg-shields, lamps and 11-stone rider, the Francis-Barnett lapped Brooklands at over 50 m.p.h., upholding the maker's speed claim of 55 m.p.h. And at a grass-track meeting 22 miles were covered all-out in second and bottom gears, the machine whining the 250-c.c. class and finishing fourth out of 14 in a 9-mile "Grand Prix" which attracted o.h.v. "500s."

The handling on wet grass was excellent, and the gear-ratios pleasantly close, while ratio-changes could be effected by hand or foot as the mood dictated. The engine pulled hard at low speeds, so that middle-gear sufficed for main or secondary-road hills. Both brakes worked on a dummy belt-rim on the rear wheel and both were extremely powerful and smooth, adhesion being aided by large balloon tyres and correct weight distribution.

The handle brake operated via Bowden cable, easily adjusted, but adjustment of the foot-brake, by three different holes to accommodate the brake-rod, was badly blanked by the flywheel-magneto and the frame. The plug, too, was a brute to remove. On the credit side, the Francis-Barnett earned full marks for comfort, riding position, excellent carburetter levers, and good steering, with or without damper. Fuel consumption was excellent and the frame very strong, surviving "long jumps," being run into from behind by a car and crashing with sufficient violence to break the rider's collarbone. Remarkable as it seems in 1949, this 1927 machine cost only £38 10s., new.

Motor Sport Magazine

172cc Super Sports Villiers 1928

A firm which has won a fine reputation for up-to-date design is the Francis Barnett factory. Of chief interest to the sporting owner is the 172 c.c. Super Sports with Villiers engine. This engine has twin ports with sweeping exhaust pipes ending in twin silencers. Expanding brakes, Terry saddle, and new type forks with steering damper render the machine more controllable than ever. A neat handle has been fitted to the rear mudguard, and grease gun lubrication to cycle parts is standard. Dunlop wired on tyres of 25 x 3 in. size are fitted. Altogether the machine is very alluring at £36.

Motor Sport Magazine

Empire Model No. 12 247cc Villiers at The Olympia Show, 1929

The most notable alteration in Francis-Barnetts for 1929 is the fitment of saddle tanks throughout the range.

In all, there are five models, two 147 c.c., two 172 c.c. and one 247 c.c., the latter being an altogether new machine. It will come as a surprise to many to note that the twin-cylinder Pullman model is not included in the 1929 range, but this is due to the fact that it has been temporarily withdrawn from the market pending detail improvements.

The new machine, which is known as the Empire Model No. 12, has a 247 c.c. Villiers two-stroke engine. It incorporates the usual well-known Francis-Barnett features and has a very complete equipment.

The engine is inclined at an angle of 26 degrees from the vertical, and an Albion 3-speed gear-box, Villiers twolever carburettor and Renold chains are standardised. This machine obviously represents excellent value at its price of ...

Motor Sport Magazine

1929 "200" Model

The ideal utility mount is here illustrated. The Francis-Barnett "200" model retains all the advantages of lightness and handiness of our other models, while the increased engine capacity and low compression ratio make for easy starting, even two-stroking at slow speeds, increased pulling power, and the period between decarbonisation is lengthened. For the long day's run, for severe gradients, or for dense traffic, this model is strongly recommended. It affords ease of control, flexibility, docility, and comparative silence. Electric Lighting, Automatic Lubrication, Balloon Tyres and Terry Saddle.


50 m.p.h. 100 m.p.g.

Motor Cycling, June 19th, 1929