In the 1890s, during the first great sales surge in the bicycle industry, quality was the most important aspect of a bicycle’s manufacture. It was the standard of a cycle’s construction that created the manufacturers’ reputations. By the turn of the century, so many companies had been attracted by the profit of the business that the industry started to suffer. Cheap imitation bicycles made by unscrupulous builders affected the reputation of the top manufacturers. Prices fell, and many companies disappeared.
The companies that remained in business decided to change their business strategy. Instead of fitting components made by third-party suppliers, so that all cycle parts were interchangeable, they each started making their own parts, and those parts were different from every other cycle manufacturer. This stopped counterfeit builders making bikes that looked similar.
As a result, the top manufacturers could charge higher prices for their bikes, and offer service facilities in their own factories and agencies around the country. Customers soon discovered that the advertising slogans used by the manufacturers were correct – a well-made bicycle may be more expensive at the outset, but because it was more reliable it required less maintenance; and, because it was so pleasurable to ride, it always had a good second-hand resale value.
Even 90 years down the road, many Sunbeam bicycles survive, handed down through families rather than being sold for scrap metal, cosseted and cherished by collectors just as Rolls Royce cars and Vincent motorcycles are put away as a hedge against inflation. Less owners now want to sell them, and Sunbeam bicycle prices only ever go up.
1924 Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen
Tall 28″ Frame
Two-Speed Epicyclic Gears
Frame No 151730
This Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen is in very good unrestored condition. Its original paintwork is in good condition with most of its box lining intact. The original transfers (decals) have also survived.
The headstock transfer is faded but can be easily read; the chaincase transfer is scratched around its perimeter where the chaincase has been knocked; and the down tube transfer is in excellent condition. This is unusual, as transfers suffer when the bicycle is polished.
It is fitted with the most popular two speed epicyclic gear inside the chaincase. As the company often reminded potential customers: why bother with a three-speed hub when the Sunbeam two-speed is so well set up and practical to use?
The Golden Sunbeam was uniquely fitted with handlebar grip caps that unscrew to reveal a repair outfit container. This machine has this feature (the grip caps themselves are replacement items).
This tall 28″ frame Golden has replacement mudguards, and the plastic on the right hand grip is cracked. For regular use, new tyres and tubes should be fitted. Other than these points to detract, the machine is excellent.