1903-1907 Sunbeam 2 & 3 Speed Gears & Sharps Axle
Every so often, something I’ve taken for granted about vintage bicycles suddenly makes itself known to me (usually as I’m trying to get to sleep) and a question such as ‘When did Sunbeam first use their epicyclic gear?’ starts to annoy me until I find the answer.
According to the catalogues, the answer to that question would appear to be 1903:
‘A 1903 invention. The Sunbeam Two Speed Gear running in the little oil bath.’
Excited by my newly-obtained grasp of this indispensable snippet of Sunbeam trivia, I persevered further with another poser – ‘When did Sunbeam introduce the Sharp axle?’ (ie ‘When were Sunbeam customers finally able to stop cursing as they tried to change their rear tyres?’)
1906 is the answer:
“How a Royal Sunbeam’s back wheel tyre is removed without touching the gear case or driving bearings.’
Final answer to the next obvious question is 1907:
‘…A three-speed hub of an approved type has been designed and made specially for Royal Sunbeams.’
In the very old days there were very old geezers who knew answers to questions like these.
In the old days there were ‘pub quizzes.’
Now there’s just google and smart-phones that lead you to this page.
Sunbeam’s first speed gear option was THE HUB TWO SPEED GEAR, in 1902
‘The Villiers Two-Speed Gear’ is mentioned above as an option in the ‘Extras’ page of the 1902 Sunbeam catalogue. It cost an additional £3 3/-
The following year (below), Sunbeam reduced the price of The Hub Two-Speed Gear to £2 18/- and also included an option for a Three Speed Gear fitted to the rear hub (presumably the new Sturmey-Archer, introduced that year) at £3 15/-.
Sunbeam introduced their two speed epicyclic gear the same year.
1903 SUNBEAM TWO-SPEED ‘CHAINWHEEL’ GEARS
1906 SHARPS AXLE
1907 VILLIERS TWO & THREE SPEED GEARS
CHARLES MARSTSON PATENTS
1904 COASTER HUB
1905 VILLIERS THREE SPEED HUB GEAR