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 FN - M 12 + side
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FN D2-492-07-07
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 1000
Model : M 12 + side
Production : 1937 -
Category : (On-Off) 3-Wheeler Military


1000 cc M 12 SM - 1937

The Germans borrow from Belgium

Most famous for the 1904 introduction of the best of the first-generation four-cylinder motorbikes, FN had built nothing bigger than 750 cc until 1932, when it designed this impressive 992cc flat-twin. It was far in advance of anything in the same category from foreign makers, including the Germans. It boasted shaft drive, a reverse gear and, as an option, a driven sidecar wheel, which lacked a differential but could be clutched in or out at will.

Short-Lived Inspiration

Unveiled at the 1937 Brussels Show, the M12 was the principal inspiration for other military outfits, with powered sidecar wheels which would be built by such makers as Gnome & Rhone, BMW and Zündapp. The civilian version never went into production and only a thousand military M 12s were built before the factory was occupied by the Germans in 1940, then destroyed by Allied bombing. The German Wehrmacht, which had not finished developing its own bikes with powered sidecar wheels, appropriated the FN machines, some of which fought – in German colors – at Stalingrad.

Postwar Revival

After the War, the engine and front end of the M 12 formed the basis of the 12 T 3 tri-carrier – still intended for the military, who used it to carry men and munitions – which was the first machine to be built in the restored factory in 1946. Even with a 2200-lb. payload, it could still get up to 40 mph.


Engine: 992cc (90x78mm) four-stroke flat-twin

Power Rating: 22 hp

Valves: L-head

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 4-speecl, shaft drive

Suspension: (front) girder forks; (rear) rigid

Brakes: drums

Wheels: wire; 19in balloon tires

Weight: 551 lb

The rare FN M 12, a notable inspiration for similar machines from BMW and Zündapp

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

Please contact me at info@moto-collection.org for conditions and copyright.

© Tous droits réservés
François-Marie Dumas

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