Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ahhh, it's called the PENNY FARTHING!

If you read the last post, I thought I was dealing with what was referred to as a grandfather bike.

Apparently they're officially called "penny farthings."

Mystery solved...as penny farthings are all over the internet.

There's a few current makers online who manufacture replicas of the bike, which had its heyday in the 1880s, it appears. You can get one for between $1-3K. Not cheap! The models are backed up with parts too, which is nice.

Apparently they're really hard to ride, and really bumpy. New riders spend much of their initial time not even riding the bike, but learning to mount it -- which is performed only with a running start, and some balance on a peg that's attached to the frame.

How about that? As if we needed to manufacture more situations to make us vulnerable to injury...why not try to mount a penny farthing?

That's what she said...kidding! Nevertheless, you'll probably die trying...literally.

One question remains. What's up with the weird design? Who invented this thing?

Maybe they thought of mounting horses and the wagon wheel, and took it from there...just a guess. I'm sure wikipedia might lend something to that, but I haven't looked yet.

I can see myself getting one of these. If I do, I'll have to bring out the top hat, put on the three piece suit with my pocket watch, and grow out a handlebar mustache.

Right? Uh, yeah...let's have a seance and contact Timothy Leary while we're at it.

3 comments:

theicychameleon said...

They hadn't really developed gearing at that point so the way to move faster was: bigger wheel to pedal ratio. They also used to race them in those sloped racing tracks... I can only imagine what the crashes were like.

Avus said...

Granny J pointed me to your blog. I think the answer to your question regarding the purpose of "penny-farthings" (or "ordinarys" as they were called at the time) will be found at my posting:
http://little-corner-of-the-earth.blogspot.com/2008/10/bicycle-gears-history-lesson.html
you will also find out more about such machines by Googling "Veteran-Cycle Club"

Sweva said...

Thanks for the comments...I'll check that out.

Considering your first learning lesson on the Ordinarys involved a running start to mount the thing to begin with, I can only imagine the crashes, lol! As long as they did it "as gentlemen," then you'd have squished top hats and broken brandy glasses to boot in the wreckage...not to mention messed up handlebar mustaches and cracked pocket watches in the vest of their morning suits.