In 1902 Henry Sturmey, James Archer and Frank Bowden (founder of Raleigh bicycles) revolutionised cycling with the invention of the 3-speed gear hub. Billed as “The Gear That Makes Cycling Easy” it seemed to make any mountain surmountable. Sturmey-Archer produced gear hubs throughout the next century and garnered a loyal following of cycling connoisseurs in the process.
The Sturmey-Archer heritage site has a huge collection of advertisements dating back from when the first gear hubs hit the spokes. Excellently designed, they’re lovely examples of how well old newspaper advertisements integrated illustration and text. From bucolic, two-wheeled dreams showing Edwardian couples embarking on hilltop picnics to some canny promotion of the hub’s apparently integral part in the wars, Sturmey-Archer knew how to position themselves as the prime producers of cycling gears. Though they never really reclaimed their early twentieth century golden age, their site offers a wonderful trip through cycling, design and advertising history.