The Golden Sunbeam

The Golden Sunbeam - A Beautiful Headache

This lovely old bicycle was brought into the workshop for me to make it ridable. The Sunbeam is not the easiest bicycle to work on as the machine wasn't designed to be taken apart and put back together by anybody other than the knowledgeable people in the Sunbeam factory. Even simple things like replacing a tyre are a headache on the Sunbeam compared to other bicycles.

1934 Golden Sunbeam Bicycle

The picture shows the bike after I had done some work to it. The front dynohub needed setting up correctly and the wheel refitted. I then had to refit the unusual, and obsolete, brake blocks.

Tyre fitting made interesting

The rear wheel had no tyre or tube so these needed fitting. Removing the rear wheel is a real pain so I fitted them with the wheel still in the bicycle. It wasn't easy, but it is a lot easier than rear wheel removal. Before fitting the tyre I tightened the mudguard bolts. These were difficult to get to, but would have been impossible to reach with the tyre in place.

Brakes next

Once the wheels were set up correctly the brakes could be made to work;

The front brake already worked but I made a small adjustment to make it work a little better. It won't work exactly as it was designed to work as the return spring is either incorrect or damaged. The brake works satisfactory using gravity as a return spring. I will ask the customer if he wants me to try to find a suitable replacement spring.

The rear brake was seized with very little movement. WD40 and a lot of part wiggling sorted it out. It was then a case of setting it up correctly and properly lubricating every moving part. The rear brake works very nicely now.

I fitted the saddle and the bicycle was in the condition that you see in the picture.

The chain is a pain

To complete the job I first need to get the transmission working; I need to refit the chain, which is an extremely complicated and fiddly task on this particular bike. I then need to fit a new indicator set to the Sturmey Archer K4 hub. These parts are of course obsolete but I do currently have a very limited source of NOS parts and this is one part that I am able to obtain. Since the photo was taken I have already fitted the quadrant lever and cable roller, so as soon as the indicator set arrives I can have the K4 running.

The left pedal needs a cone and locknut and new bearings. Alternatively a replacement set of non-original pedals is available.

A set of handlebar grips and a tidy up of the dynamo wiring should complete the job.

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17 thoughts on “The Golden Sunbeam

  1. Mark Cooper says:


    I have a similar bike and need the nut/screw that holds the "loose piece" it the rear of
    the chain guard. Do you have a spare please?

  2. Vince says:

    Hi Mark, I'm afraid I can't help you with the part you need. All Sunbeam parts are made to fit only a Sunbeam and are now unobtainable. You will need to either find something that will work (as it's just a bolt it might be possible to find something usable) or have a new part made.

  3. John Steven says:

    Whenever I saw a bike like this, It reminds me of the world war II or some 1830s history. 🙂 just sharing,,, nice page!

  4. Vince says:

    Hi John,
    This bike is from the early 1930s, so it existed during the Second World War, but was 100 years too late for the 1830s.
    Thanks you for taking the time to comment. Your car wax tips are useful for bicycle restoration too.

  5. Ray says:

    Hi Vince, I own two sunbeams. A 1937 ladies Silver and a mid 1920's Golden. My rear break pads which have the name fedoro on it, is worn out and not working in the rear. The front brakes are doing ok...for now. Any advice or insight on fixing/ adjusting or replacing those break pads? Would appreciate it very much. Thanks

  6. Rob Porch says:

    1935 Golden Sunbeam recent acquisition. Brake blocks, I was considering covering the surfaces with leather therefore the wear and tear could be taken by the covering and should grip the stainless steel rims. What do you reckon? Mine has the round Sunbeam gear selector. looking for L crank and pedals and better h/bar grips.
    S. Devon 07811047398

  7. Ted Tyndall says:

    How did you fit the new tyre without removing the rear wheel from this 1930's three speed Sunbeam ? As a post 1932 bike it would'nt have had the very useful Sharps divided axle, or as in th case of my 1954 Sunbeam, the very rare BSA quick release hub -

    I hope you did'nt "stretch the frame " like a retired cycle mechanic (who obviously should have known better,) told me he often did !

  8. Vince Warner says:

    Stretching the frame sounds drastic. However slightly springing the rear of a frame is possible and is an accepted procedure among classic bicycle mechanics (tools were once made for this purpose), but springing the rear of a frame only gains a tiny increase between the rear ends. If you take it too far you would cause a permanent increase in OLD which would then require the frame to be retracked.

    However I had no need to do that, as a tyre is far more flexible than a frame:

    Sliding the wheel out of the rear ends I could then raise the wheel slightly giving me enough room to slide the tyre up between the frame and the wheel in the left side of the bicycle. I then flexed the tyre to manipulate it around the axle. It can then be raised further to the correct position to be fitted.

  9. Ted Tyndall says:

    That's a very satisfactory reply Vince, at the moment my two "Marston " Sunbeams are just stored as completely dismantled kits of parts. When eventually I get around to renovation / reassembly I'll try out your described method. It certainly sounds as though it could work, and would save a bit of time.

    Thank you,


  10. Alan Williams says:

    I like your web page I have rebuilt a 1911 ladies Sunbeam and at present restoring a gents 3 speed 1930 ? Bicycle.i was told to remove the end if the grips and found a puncture outfit ect what a thrill it was! Keep it up Alan Wolverhampton

  11. Cody Crowley says:

    Hello Vince!
    I'm a young vintage English bicycle enthusiast here in the United States and I just purchased my first roadster, a Sunbeam Gent's 3 speed from the late 1930's-early 1940's.
    However, I ordered new tires for it, but have no idea how to install it on the rear wheel. Could you walk me through the process of slipping it on the rear wheel without major disassembly as you mentioned above?
    Also, since it is difficult to remove the rear wheel, should I re-grease the rear bearings or just oil the 3-speed hub?
    Thank you for your help!

  12. Peter says:

    I have a 1919 golem sunbeam apart from new tyres and tubes a few new spokes and saddle redone by brooks it's all original, I still use it every weekend, best bike I have ever owned

  13. Vince Warner says:

    Hello Cody,
    First the easy bit: just oil the rear hub with a 30 grade oil.
    Now the hard bit: you need to slip the chain from the chainwheel to allow you to get the rear wheel as far back as it will go. There is a removable panel on the chaincase to allow you to do this. Move the wheel back so the axle is clear of the rear ends. This will allow just about enough room to squeeze the tyre through the gap on the left side of the bicycle. It is a bit of a wiggle to get it through there.
    It's not easy, but it is easier than removing the rear wheel.
    I hope this helps

  14. Chris Mallard says:

    I managed to get some new brake blocks for my 1934 Sunbeam from a Mr Pinkerton, who is the son of one of the great Sunbeam enthusiasts but sadly no longer with us. I think I may have his details somewhere, but he should be traceable via the web.

  15. Catherine Ayers says:

    Cleaning up and 'restoring' my grandmother's sunbeam. Just how did you replace the rear tyre and inner tube? I'm thinking it's going to take some brute force but don't want to damage the frame or have the chain come off inside the little oil bath.
    Please advise if possible! I don't thinks the bike will ever be 'roadworthy' but a little peddle to celebrate would be lovely, before 'she' becomes a garden ornament or curiosity.

  16. Christer Forsberg says:

    Gentlemen, I have recently undertaken the Herculian task of repairing a 1914 Sunbeam bicycle. To remove the rear wheel. empty the oil-bath, remove the front circular cover and the chain through the rear opening (remove lid). The wheel could now be removed by gently pulling backwards, then upwards. To replace the chain, use thin strands of metal-thread fastened to the chain ends. A more difficult task is to make new coils that holds the pawls in the chain-wheel in position. Use a clock-spring, cut into the right lengths. To form them to the hair-pin shape, heat the middle part over a candle. When correctly formed, cool them in oil. That slows the process, thus retaining the elasticity of the steel. Ask Veteran Cycles Club for further information. Nil desperandum!

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