the Francis-Barnett Light 'Cruiser 79' motorcycle

Francis-Barnett was a motorcycle manufacturer in Coventry which specialised in the production of lightweight motorcycles from 1918-1968.

Gordon Francis and Arthur Barnett first found premises at Lower Ford Street in a factory previously used by Bayliss, Thomas and Company, and commenced with the manufacture of 300cc JAP powered models. Francis had previously worked for the Lea Francis Company, and Barnett, a former Singer Company Director had previously been manufacturing his own 'Invicta' cycles and motorcycles.

The company went on to construct a new frame concept in 1923. This consisted of seven pairs of tubes that would easily bolt together to form a triangular frame. This was sold at a very reasonable price and was promoted by the company as being ‘built like a bridge’.

Francis-Barnett continued successfully into the 1930s selling lightweight machines going by the names of Pullman, Merlin, Stag and Kestrel of various capacities, and maintaining good value for money.

In the early 1950s they were taken over by Associated Motorcycles Ltd. (AMC), one of many amalgamations intended to strengthen the by now failing industry which had increasingly struggled under foreign competition.

By 1957, Francis-Barnett took the decision to use their own AMC engines, but these lacked the reliability of the Villiers units which the company had favoured for many years. After struggling to make an impact, Francis-Barnett reverted back to using Villiers engines, but by this time, Japanese motorcycles had gained a stronghold on the UK market.

In 1964 the Lower Ford Street factory was closed and all production moved to Birmingham, yet despite the move, Francis-Barnett motorcycles lasted only a further four years.
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