1902 Sunbeams were advertised in 23″ 25″ and 27″ frame sizes, and this is the 27″ model. Sunbeam offered a two speed gear as an option for the first time in 1902: ‘The Hub Two-Speed Gear’ – available for an additional £3 3/- (see above) – was not made by Sunbeam.
The company introduced an epicyclic two-speed gear in 1903, but the first hub gear made by Sunbeam themselves was the ‘Villiers Two-Speed Gear’ introduced in 1907. It was manufactured by Villiers, which was Charles Marston’s company.
Sunbeam offered all its customers a repair service at its factory. With the introduction of Sunbeam gears, many customers bought the new models or had their own bicycles updated. There was much discussion in the cycling press regarding the two-speed and three-speed gears, and even Sunbeam were undecided about which was better:
There is a war between cycle experts; they disagree as to whether the three-speed is really an improvement upon the two-speed, and when Doctors differ, who shall decide?
It would seem fair that the decision should be left to the Riders of Sunbeams, on which Bicycles both forms of Speed Gear, of our own design and manufacture, has been introduced.
Those who have already tried a Three-Speed Bicycle should now purchase the Two-Speed Royal Sunbeam, and those who have until now ridden a Two-Speed Royal Sunbeam may be interested in purchasing the new Three-Speed Royal.
All Sunbeam Riders, who have had a full season’s experience of each form of gear, are invited, at the end of the season of 1907, to send their decision as to which type of Variable Gear they prefer to the Head Offices of John Marston Ltd, at Sunbeamland, Wolverhampton.
This 1902 bicycle was updated and restored by John Marston Ltd in 1908. That was when it received its ‘Villiers Two Speed Gear.’ It was also fitted with a front mudguard extension, as well as a transfer on the seat tube declaring:
RENOVATED BY JOHN MARSTON LTD, SUNBEAMLAND, WOLVERHAMPTON
1902 Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen
with Sunbeam Hub Two-Speed Gear
and Sunbeam Back-Pedal Rim Brake
Frame No 55702
Renovated by John Marston Ltd
1903 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE
1909 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE