Though the majority of Sunbeam’s military models were made for a French government contract, a limited quantity were also available in Britain.
It was essentially the J.P. model. The differences were as follows:
No oil bath or gears
Inflator pump brazed on to the down-tube.
Wider 28 x 1 3/4 wheels
Sharp’s Patent Divided Axle
Front carrier fitted as standard. (Rear carrier and Lucas rifle clips were extras)
Brooks Military Saddle
Black or Khaki Finish
The photo at the top of the page illustrates civilian Sunbeams on war duty. The picture is dated 1914, with the caption: ‘Soldier cyclist on Silent Sunbeams’
Compare those machines with ‘The Military Sunbeam’ below.
Civilian Sunbeams were built to such a high standard that they would understandably have found favour for military service with those who could afford them. As long as it was fitted with a Sharp’s Patent Rear Hub, a tyre could be replaced without removing the wheel.
As with all War Office specification bicycles, the official Military Sunbeam was a single speed model without a chaincase; there would therefore be less to go wrong with it while in service and it could be easily repaired. The majority of civilian Sunbeams were fitted with the two-speed epicyclic gear; this is a very efficient set up, my only personal reservation would be that damage to the oil bath chaincase – more likely under rough wartime riding conditions – might render the bicycle inoperative. If a Sunbeam with gears was to be used for active duty, a three-speed gear in the rear wheel would be a more logical choice. The machine featured here is a 1910 Golden Sunbeam Three-Speed with all the military fittings illustrated in the Sunbeam catalogue.
1910 Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen
Sunbeam Three-Speed Gears
Sunbeam ‘Foot Brake’
with WW1 Military Fittings to replicate ‘The Military Sunbeam’
including Brooks Military Saddle
BROOKS MILITARY No 3 SADDLE
* Thanks to Simon for above info – http://www.25thlondon.com/bicycle.htm
* Thanks to Robert Cordon Champ for use of the photo
‘Soldier cyclist on Silent Sunbeams’ from his superb book, ‘The Illustrated History of Sunbeam Bicycles and Motorcycles.’