In the early 1900s, motorcycle manufacturers started turning to multiple cylinders to improve performance and speed. In the US, William Hendersen developed a 4 cylinder “in-line” design that became a prototype for a motorcycle that was produced by the Hendersen Motorcycle Company. The prototype turned into a production model in 1912.
In Belgium an arms manufacturer FN (FABRIQUE NATIONALE) started producing the fastest production motorcycle in the world in 1911. It held that record for another year 1912. It was produced from 1905 until 1923. It was a 4 cylinder in-line model with shaft drive and a 362cc engine. Bicycle pedals started this puppy on these initial models but was replaced by a kick starter.
Wow, this one innovative motorcycle. An early model 4 cylinder machine with a shaft drive and a move away from the traditional bicycle frame design. Manufactured by an arms dealer in Belgium, it went through many improvements and was produced until 1923. It was the worlds fastest production motorcycle in 1911 and 1912. Some of the models were pretty sexy and I would ride them today if I could. 45 mph top speed. Here is an exhibit of a 1908 model of this motorcycle at Motorcyclepedia in Newburgh, NY.
Check out the history at: http://www.motorcyclepediamuseum.org/1908-fabrique-nationale-motorcycle/