1908 Golden Sunbeam Six Speed ‘Model A6’

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The Six-Speed Sunbeam – ‘Model A6′ – was not a popular bicycle, and Sunbeam dropped it from their catalogue in 1911, after only three years. The quote from their 1910 catalogue, reproduced below, mentions the relative weight of a Six-Speed. Because of various comments in the cycling press, we believe that the public did not take to the Six-Speed at the time because they felt it weighed more.

But bear in mind also that, in 1908-1910, gears were still a novelty: the general opinion was that a ‘real man’ should ride a bicycle without gears.

It was not until four or five years later, by which time gears were a standard feature, that Sunbeam enthusiasts reconsidered the idea of a Six-Speed, and some owners combined the two-speed epicyclic with a three-speed rear hub to re-create their own version of the Sunbeam Six-Speed …although without the special six speed gears, these later ones were actually only a ‘five-speed.’

This example is a genuine Six Speed, and one of only a few known survivors. With frame number 89927, it is also one of the first, from 1908.

 

1908 Golden Sunbeam Six Speed

‘Model A6’ (Genuine Six Speed)

Sunbeam 3 speed hub gear / 2 speed epicyclic gear

‘All-black’ model (no nickel)

26″ Frame

28″ Wheels

Frame No 89927

(Now sold)

The rare Six-Speed Golden Sunbeam is in good all round condition, with both of its gears fully functional. Though its transfer (decal) on the steering head identifies it as a Golden, it has the handlebar grips, steering head lock and steel wheels that we usually associate with a Royal; this occurred in some years of production.

The paintwork is unrestored original; though somewhat weathered, it retains its box lining and also transfers on the steering head, chaincase and top of the seat tube. The saddle is a nice Brooks Model B90 and the pedals are the usual ‘four-bar’ rubber type that are standard on an early Sunbeam. The Six-Speed is ready to ride.

 

 

 

 

Six Speed Sunbeam logo

The external differences of a genuine Six-Speed Sunbeam are easily spotted – two brazed-on lugs for the trigger mountings on the top tube, and also for the gear fittings at the top of the seat tube.

1909 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE EXTRACTS

 

 

 

 

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At the top of the photo below you can see that the steering lock is engaged while it rests against a rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE SUNBEAM THREE-SPEED HUB GEAR

 

 

 

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