The Centaur Cycle Co was a leading manufacturer in the early years of the bicycle industry. But, by 1909, their machines were too expensive for the market, and the company closed down. They had a historic association with Humber, and the latter took over sales of unsold machines. After WW1, the Centaur badge was used by Humber for a cheaper range of bicycles. Observe the 1921 Centaur advert below: the model names ‘Standard’ and ‘Popular’ are well-known Humber model names. As you can see from illustrations in the 1921 Humber catalogue reproduced further down the page, the Centaur featured here is similar to the Olympia, another Humber model sold at a cheaper price.
Though bicycle prices were high for the first few years after the War, by the early twenties the home market demanded lower priced bicycles, and the upmarket companies were forced to lower their prices (and also, often, the quality of their products). At first, the ‘quality’ manufacturers did this by using subsidiary company names for their cheaper machines, eg Olympia and Coventry Royal for Humber, Coventry Cross for Royal Enfield, Gloria for Triumph. But, by the mid-twenties, with competition from cheaper cars and motorcycles, the bicycle became permanently ‘downmarket’ to provide transportation for working class folk, so there was no longer a need for proxy companies to host cheaper models. All bicycles were now cheap models.
1922 Centaur Popular Roadster
Frame No 476527
1921 HUMBER CATALOGUE
1926 CENTAUR CATALOGUE