This is an age of Improvements, it would be still more so were it not for the great expense of them. One reads of the fortunes Inventors have made, but one rarely hears of the equally great fortunes they have lost.
Each new Cycle Improvement needs long and careful trial, new tools, new gauges, and new models to make it. Each new Cycle Improvement means that older patterns, and the tools and plant used to make them, have become obsolete.
That is why so many Manufacturers discourage Improvements; cycles of patterns practically obsolete sold at a low price bring more profit.
THE SUNBEAM BICYCLE
…has now for many years set the fashion to the Cycle World. The important Improvements illustrated on the succeeding pages are evidence that there is no comparison between Sunbeams and others.
The discomforts that Cyclists suffer on other Bicycles are altogether absent on Sunbeams. Practically all the friction which used to be considered inseparable from Cycle Mechanism has been abolished, while the Speed Gears fitted on all Cycles in this list insure that the Rider, besides being able to use his full Power, shall be able to apply it to the best possible advantage.
– 1907 Sunbeam Catalogue
1907 Golden Sunbeam for Ladies
With Sunbeam Variable Two Speed Gear
and (Back-pedal) Foot Brake
Frame N0 81246
The Golden Sunbeam model was discontinued in 1903, and re-appeared in 1908. Comparing the frame number with the Sunbeam dating chart, this example was built in either 1906 or 1907, even though those years did not have a Golden Sunbeam in their lists. The gear trigger is on the left, which was a 1906 option, and it does not have Golden Sunbeam handlebars (ie the ends do not have unscrewing caps); the handlebars are, in fact, identical to the 1906 or 1907 Sunbeam models.
Regarding the two-speed gear, the book Sunbeam Cycles says that ‘when first available it had the change mechanism on the left, as in the patent application, but by 1906 that had moved to the right.’ It also mentions that it collated Sunbeam history from the catalogues: ‘In most cases one year’s models would have appeared at cycle shows towards the end of the previous year and this results in apparent discrepancies from time to time. For example, the 1907 tricycle was seen in 1906, and may well have been built first in 1905’ (Sunbeam Cycles, pages 102-103).
This rare bicycle would therefore appear to have been manufactured in 1906 or 1907, but held over until 1908, to become one of the first of the new models of Golden Sunbeam.
The nickel handlebars, brakes and other fittings are in very good condition. Although the box lining has disappeared (it looks like parts of the bike were repainted a long time ago), the bicycle retains its original transfers on the headstock, chaincase and seat tube. Apart from the tyres and handlebar grips (period Bluemels), every part of the bike is original.
The inflator pump is interesting for its unusual small size. The pump fittings are correct, but I’m not sure about the pump itself – the logo on it looks like that of Sunbeam, but it may be later. The saddle is a Brooks B85 Lady’s Model, as specified in the catalogue description. There are two damaged parts: the rear mudguard has a small dent, and the nickel linkage on the front plunger brake is cracked (both can be repaired).
Overall, it is a splendid bike, mechanically good, with the nickel plated fittings and left-hand gear trigger being particularly rare and delightful.
1908 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE
FRAME N0 81246
BROOKS ‘MODEL B85’ LADY’S SADDLE
(As specified in the 1908 Sunbeam Catalogue Details)
NICKEL HANDLEBARS & FITTINGS:
FRONT RIM BRAKE & SUNBEAM 2-SPEED TRIGGER
SUNBEAM (BACK-PEDAL) FOOT BRAKE