Saturday, February 13, 2010


In 1924 Royal Enfield started using Sturmey-Archer gearboxes, like the one fitted on the 1928 bike at the left. These gearboxes will be in the lineup until 1940. In 1930-32 almost all bikes seem to have shipped with those boxes, some with suicide shifters some with foot shift. In 1933 Enfield made boxes started to be used and progressively the Sturmey-Archer boxes were relegated to the lower priced models, disappearing during World War II. The company still exists today, concentrating on the manufacture of bicycle parts. It even has a facebook page. The company was started in 1902 to produce the invention of Henry Sturmey and James Archer: the 3 speed bicycle hub. It grew enormously, even establishing factories in other countries. It was eventually acquired by Derby (together with Raleigh Cycles) and then sold in 2001 to Taiwanese interests. It now lists addresses in Netherlands, Taiwan and the US, not in the UK anymore. Here is the story of the turbulent last UK years. Their factory used to be on Triumph Road in Nottingham opposite the Raleigh Cycles factory. Both factories have been demolished to make space for the University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus expansion, so they must have been on the vacant land shown in the map, According to Wikipedia: In the UK "Sturmey Archer" is a genericized trademark that is occasionally used to refer to any kind of hub gear, regardless of manufacturer. Talk of Sturmey Archer gears can also be nostalgic, referring to the days when hub gears were more common.

The John Shuttleworth song Crich Tram Museum reminisces about his boyhood activities and recalls cycling up a tall hill, singing "I was grateful for the Sturmey Archer gears". Half Man Half Biscuit refer to the gears in their song A Lilac Harry Quinn.

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