Golden or Royal Sunbeams with painted rather than plated parts were the most expensive Sunbeams on offer. Green paintwork was offered in the 1910 catalogue (extracts above and below); but, by 1912, when this Sunbeam was made, it was no longer a catalogue option. Nevertheless, the catalogues were only a guide, and a customer could order whatever they wanted.
As you can see in the Sunbeam prospectus below: ‘Enamelling Royal Sunbeams in colours, including Gold Leaf lines’ cost an extra 20/- (£1).
So the total price for this Royal Sunbeam for Gentleman, including green paintwork and Sunbeam Three-Speed gears would have been £15 3/- 6d.
This was cheaper than Sunbeam’s top-of-the-range All-Black Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen with epicyclic gears, at 16 guineas (£16 16/-), the company’s most expensive machine. The Golden only had two gears. Sunbeam maintained that their patent epicyclic two-speed system was the equal of a Sturmey-Archer or BSA Three-speed. They were right!
Nevertheless, by now, with Sturmey-Archer’s extensive advertising for its three speed gears, the public was at last sold on the idea of three-speed gears, and Sunbeam was obliged to offer an in-house three-speed option. (Actually, Sunbeam’s own hub gear is a BSA gear with the BSA name removed).
These Sunbeams were some of the most expensive bicycles in the world. To compare other upmarket three-speed British bikes from 1913, a top-of-the-range Elswick was 15 guineas, Raleigh Superbe X-Frame 15 guineas, Beeston Humber £15 12/- 6d, Ariel (without gears) £15, Dursley-Pedersen £12 7/- 6d, Triumph 10 guineas, Royal Enfield Duplex Girder £9 17/- 6d, BSA £9 15/- and Rudge-Whitworth £9 12/- 7d. Centaur had gone out of business by 1913, but their 1909 Resilient was 17 guineas and their 1911 Lightweight £9 15/-.
1912 Royal Sunbeam for Gentlemen
Dark Green Enamel with Gold Lines
Sunbeam Three-Speed Gear
Frame No 116811
1915 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE
A PAIR OF GREEN SUNBEAMS