Penny-Farthing Bicycle – History and Appearance
Humanity perceives the Victorian epoch as something highly-romantic and enveloped with myths and legends. Many iconic symbols of the Victorian era still excite people’s imagination, making them wonder how interesting and romantic then living was.
One of the most famous and recognizable symbols of the Victorian era is a penny-farthing bicycle – a machine that looks so unusual and unaccustomed to modern people and cyclists. There was a lot of unusual about a penny-farthing bicycle.
Penny-farthing bicycle or high-wheel bicycle
Penny-farthing bicycle or high-wheel bicycle came into existence in 1870, when Eugène Meyer had developed the first high-wheel bicycle and the founder of the bicycle industry, James Starley had launched its mass production. Although penny-farthing bicycles were famous and widespread for a short time, between the 1870s and 1880s, they became an integral part of the then society.
Perhaps we all have seen vintage photos of gentlemen on top of penny-farthing bicycles. Thus such a view can confuse everyone nowadays, penny-farthing bicycles had numerous technological advantages and had proved itself as an efficient but yet dangerous means of transportation.
The construction of penny-farthing bicycles can amaze everyone and there were not so many people who were brave enough to try such a bike. Then society was unaccustomed to bicycles but this had served as a great opportunity to introduce brand-new bicycling machines because people weren’t pre-disposed and experienced in cycling.
Penny-farthing bicycles had gained its original name because of its appearance. A high-wheel bicycle includes two different wheels: one small and one extremely big, one and a half meters tall.
A penny-farthing bicycle’s construction
Such a construction provides very fast speed. Eyewitnesses have said that a penny-farthing bicycle could reach a speed of 20 mph with no serious physical efforts from the side of a rider. Even though a rider could look unusual and sometimes ridiculous, noble gentlemen, ladies, and different kinds of people had used penny-farthing bicycles daily.
But penny-farthing bicycles were dangerous because such a high bicycle with thin and hard wheels was very unstable. A rider was placed on the top of the front wheel and could fall head-first from high up.
The first cycling races were taken on penny-farthing bicycles. Exactly this bicycle type had caused mass popularity of bicycles, making cycling widespread and available for everyone.
This symbolic bicycle continues to excite many people across the world and there are very few cyclists, who wouldn’t want to take a trip on a penny-farthing bicycle.
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