1910 Royal Sunbeam for Gentlemen: 3 Speed with Coaster Hub

1910 Royal Sunbeam for Gentlemen

24 Inch Frame

3 Speed with Coaster Hub

I view a lot of vintage bicycles. A surprising proportion are still in excellent original condition a century after they left the factory. Though I view a cross-section of marques, the majority of those good condition survivors are Sunbeams. This is one of the best I’ve come across.


The transfers look like new. The seller told me his Dad purchased it from a collector 25 years ago and stored it in his loft; the warm environment has preserved it.


The handlebars are in superb condition.


It’s hard to believe that the nickel is 100 years old.












The front tyre is a Dunlop Pneumatic Cord. It appears to be nearly as old as the bicycle, but it still holds air.

Despite the claim in the catalogue below, lightweight Aluminium Roman Rims were not fitted as standard to all Sunbeams. But you could have them fitted at extra cost. How to tell the difference between Roman Rims and ordinary steel wheels? – Use a magnet.





A ‘head lock’ on a vintage bicycle does not normally lock it to prevent theft. As you can see from the pictures above and below, the head lock simply keeps the bike straight so you can lean it against a lamp post without the front end twisting and the bike falling over.


However, in 1911, Sunbeam introduced a special feature on their Golden Sunbeam range: a milled edge screw on the top of the head lock lever. You could remove the screw when you applied the head lock and it was then impossible to open the head lock. This prevented someone jumping on the bicycle and riding it away.


Of course, 100 years later, we’d consider that a rather quaint theft preventative. Nowadays, of course, someone would just pick the bike up and put it in their van. But in 1911 there were not enough motor vehicles on the road for that to be an issue!



It’s my first Sunbeam with coaster brake; I’m used to back-pedal braking, so I’ve found this bike very enjoyable to ride.


According to Sunbeam Cycles (Pinkerton Press), this coaster hub was patented by Charles Marston, W. Hough and C. Pinson in 1904. You can see the Sunbeam patent number on it below, with the year marked o5.


Though the Sunbeam catalogue offered the coaster hub (‘foot brake’) as standard, the Sunbeam rear rim brake was available as an option at no extra charge: ‘A Hand-applied Brake fitted to rear wheel instead of pedal brake if desired.’

Bear in mind that hand-operated rear brakes were comparatively new at this time, so I think a ‘modern’ set-up would have been an appealing proposition to buyers of the 1910 Sunbeam. This would explain why the Sunbeam Coaster hub is very rare today.

You pull the gear trigger back one notch to activate the back pedal mechanism. Here are some photos of the brake linkage and components:

Viewing the above photograph: at the bottom of the linkage you can see a circular nut. The catalogue description refers to this because, by rotating it, you allow the pedals to free-wheel:

‘To wheel backwards. In the centre of the Brake Rod is a small round milled nut; when raised, this nut throws the clutch inside the Crank Bracket out of action and the Machine can then be wheeled backwards.’






The frame number is 99657.
















The saddle is a Brooks B42.

John Marston Ltd did not sell spares. If your Sunbeam needed repairs it was sent to the factory and, when thew work was completed, it received the label seen above ‘Renovated by John Marston Ltd.’



PHOTO LOCATION: The ‘Birdcage’ Bandstand, Kings Rd, Brighton. It actually stands on the Lower Esplanade next to the beach, but is raised to the level of King’s Road. It is a light ironwork building erected in 1884 with a public convenience in the base. Topped by an oriental dome, the roof is supported by eight delicate ironwork pillars, and there were originally shutters to shelter the performers from the breeze. It was restored last year.

Published on August 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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