HUMBER: THE ROYAL CONNECTION
As is well known, many Members of our Royal Family are fond of cycling. But it is not so commonly understood that His Majesty the King, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Connaught, Princess Louise, The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, The Duchess of Fife, and Princesses Maud and Victoria of Wales, unite in honouring the world-famous ‘Humber Cycles’ by riding them.
A major selling point for Humber was that their bicycles were ridden by the Royal Family, including King George V (pictured above, in 1911, receiving a letter from a postman). Of course, this was a fabulous marketing aid for the Beeston, and their bicycles became extremely popular both at home and (particularly) throughout the Commonwealth …as ordinary folk, while riding a Humber, were able to enjoy similar views and sensations as their ruling monarch.
George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 to 20 January 1936) was King of the Great Britain and British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. In 1896 a Humber motorized tricycle was the only motorcycle to finish the London-Brighton Emancipation Day Run which celebrated the raising of the speed limit to 12 mph. In 1898, the Duke of York, later to be King George V, became the first royal to ride one.
Though other bicycle manufacturers had bicycle lines named ‘Royal’ and several of the top manufacturers supplied bicycles to the Royal Family – who were keen cyclists and had supported the cycle industry since its earliest days – Humber capitalized most on its Royal connection in its advertising campaigns. The picture below, from 1905, was part of Humber’s advertising during the reign of King George’s predecessor, King Edward VII.
1924 Coventry Humber ‘Popular Tourist’
Model No 11
‘Low Built’ Roadster with 21″ Frame & 26″ Wheels
Sturmey-Archer ‘Model K’ Three-Speed Gear
Number 2 Handlebars
Bicycles were originally very expensive so only rich people could afford them. However, after World War 1, the price of bicycles dropped to a level where working people could use them for commuting to work. This meant that smaller sized models were required. Sunbeam led the way in the 1920s with their ‘Low-Built’ models, specially designed for riders who had difficulty reaching the ground. Humber proclaimed: ‘By Royal Warrant to His Majesty King George’ so they made bicycles to the highest standards, even though prices were now within the reach of ordinary working people.
This Popular Tourist Humber has a 21″ frame and 26″ wheels, which was the chosen size for shorter riders, older riders and emancipated women who liked the idea of riding a gentleman’s roadster style bicycle rather than a loopframe ladies’ bicycle.
This example has Humber’s unique ‘Number 2’ semi-dropped handlebars, which give it a very sporty style, and the detachable chaincase has also been removed – allowing Humber’s very distinctive chainwheel to be seen. So it’s appearance is actually more like a road racer. (Chaincases were actually an optional extra, so many customers saved money by buying one without; many also preferred no chainacse because it made it easier to change tyres and service the chain).
The machine is in excellent order throughout, having been recently serviced, with new tyres and tubes. It was repainted many years ago, and the paint is now worn. Although it is over 90 years old, it is so well-built that this is still a very practical bicycle to own and ride on a daily basis.
1921 HUMBER CATALOGUE
1924 HUMBER CATALOGUE
HUMBER: THEN & NOW
MORE HUMBER HISTORY MAY BE ENJOYED AT…
HUMBER ORDER FORM
If you are ready to order a new 1924 Humber Popular Tourist, please complete and sign the order form below and post it without delay to H & K Ltd, London.
1926 COLUMBIA ‘ANNIVERSARY’ v 1924 COVENTRY HUMBER
Here you can compare the 1926 Columbia Junior, with 28″ wheels and inverted 19″ frame with the 1924 Humber, with 26″ wheels and 21″ frame. As you can see they are the same height from saddle to ground.