In the 1890s, during the first great sales surge in the bicycle industry, quality was the most important aspect of a British bicycle’s manufacture. It was the standard of a cycle’s construction that created the manufacturers’ reputations. By the turn of the century, so many companies had been attracted by the profit of the business that the industry started to suffer. Cheap imitation bicycles made by unscrupulous builders affected the reputation of the top manufacturers. Prices fell, and many companies disappeared.
The companies that remained in business decided to change their business strategy. Instead of fitting components made by third-party suppliers, so that all cycle parts were interchangeable, they each started making their own parts, and those parts were different from every other cycle manufacturer. This stopped counterfeit builders making bikes that looked similar.
As a result, the top manufacturers could charge higher prices for their bikes, and offer service facilities in their own factories and agencies around the country. Customers soon discovered that the advertising slogans used by the manufacturers were correct – a well-made bicycle may be more expensive at the outset, but because it was more reliable it required less maintenance; and, because it was so pleasurable to ride, it always had a good second-hand resale value.
Even nine decades on, many Sunbeam bicycles survive. They’ve been handed down through families rather than being sold for scrap metal. Golden Sunbeams are cosseted and cherished by collectors, just as Rolls Royce cars and Vincent motorcycles are put away as a hedge against inflation. And, as the ultimate testament to their quality, the Golden Sunbeams ride as well now as they did when they first left the factory.
1924 All-Black Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen
Two-Speed Epicyclic Gears
28″ Wheels (Roman Rim rear; steel front)
Frame No 144181
Brooks ‘Model B49’ saddle (Exclusive to the Golden Sunbeam)
Revolving Bell & Sunbeam Rear Carrier Rack
This All-Black Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen is in very good unrestored condition. Its original paintwork is well preserved, with most of its box lining intact. The original transfers (decals) have also survived.
The headstock and chaincase transfers (decals) are excellent; the down tube transfer is faded but can be easily read. Transfers start to disappear as soon as a bicycle is polished.
It is fitted with the most popular two speed epicyclic gear inside the chaincase. As the company often reminded potential customers: why bother with a three-speed hub when the Sunbeam two-speed is so well set up and practical to use?
The Golden Sunbeam was uniquely fitted with handlebar grip caps that unscrew to reveal a tyre repair outfit container. This machine has this feature: the grip cap on the right is the original, while the one on the left is a replacement. In one of the photos, you can see a grip cap removed to reveal the glass tube inside, which would have contained a tyre repair patch.
There are three nice accessories: a revolving bell, Sunbeam’s rear carrier rack, and the Brooks ‘Model B49’ saddle, which was supplied exclusively for Golden Sunbeams (the area above the nose is damaged, but it is still usable).
The inflator pump is for display only. The original Sunbeam pedals are in excellent condition. The brake rubbers have plenty of life in them. Every part is the correct original item for this bicycle.
The Golden Sunbeam is in excellent all-round original ondition and ready to ride.
SUNBEAM REPAIR OUTFIT HANDLE
BROOKS ‘MODEL B49’ SADDLE