I noticed a penny farthing outside a bike shop a while ago. For anyone who doesn’t know, penny farthings are those bikes you see in old pictures with one huge wheel and one tiny wheel behind them. The pedals are attached to the front wheel and it can be ridden like a unicycle if the rider leans forward, lifting the back wheel off the ground. Does anyone actually ride these things anymore? The penny farthing was just a display item; it’s in the company’s logo.
my uncle has 2 kinda. one is complete and we play with it and the other is a 45in uni. we hacked off the frame part that holds the back wheel
A friend of mine had 2 of them when I was a boy and we used to ride them sometimes. Though we rode unicycles at the time we never thought to try to ride it like one. Seems a bit dangerous because the wheels are usually pretty big and you can’t just hop off the front if you go too far forward.
Yes, the Coker Cycle Company, the first company to produce 36" unicycles, also makes a 36" Penny Farthing.
A lady rode one in the Hike, Bike, and Paddle last month. You see her at a lot of the “family speed” events. She always wears red, white, and blue. I rode past her walking it up one of the steeper hills of Iriquois Park. I said “Hello Penny Farthing Lady” to which she responded as I peddled away “Hello Unicycle Man.”
Penny farthings are heaps of fun and are related to unicycles. I had a go on one a little while back, I should borrow it again some time it was cool.
My first go was a bit wobbly but it felt amazing and high. Ben is making a 29" penny farthing, inspired by Tony Melton’s one which got a lot of use before breaking.
^^That looks so cool! I want to try one really bad now.
I got to try a 36" at a bike demo. Felt really weird, only got two tries, but I was able to ride on the front for a few feet.
Mini penny awesomeness…
I’m also making a mini penny at the moment, 29" front wheel, 16" pit bmx front wheel on the rear (32h hub/rim, and a chunky axle so I can run pegs on the back wheel).
I was toying with the idea of running a unicycle wheel in the rear, so I could ride it like a uni on the rear wheel, but I didn’t fancy sacrificing my 12" dodger uni in case it didn’t work out.
The frame design is slightly different to Tony’s, to avoid the issues he had with welds breaking etc. My design has 2 tubes coming from the head tube, and tapering into one at the base near the rear fork. I used a UDC 29er fork for the front fork, and replaced the section above the crown with the steerer tube from a MTB.
I’m going to see my frame builder tomorrow, so I will get some pics and post them here. It should be ready to ride in the next week, looking forward to it!
I also have a few mates who ride classic 54" penny’s. They have an Australian championships every year in Tasmania, it’s epic!
I have seen a few 36" penny farthings on the market… I fancy one…anyone know if they can be fitted with a schlumpf??
Mini penny madness
As promised, here’s a couple of teaser pics of my mini penny project. It’s almost finished, just measured up the postion of the seatpost today, so that and some rear pegs will be built in this week, and it should be ready to ride start of next week, Yeha!
Will post some more pics when it’s all finished and rideable
About 1983/4 I ws planning to do a charity ride on one. It never happened because in the end no one was willing to lend me one for long enough.
I went out with a vintage & veteran cycle group, Desford Lane Pedallers, for a day. http://www.dlpvcc.co.uk/
I got to ride a modern reproduction penny farthing, a real old one, and a couple of other veteran machines. The real old one was lighter, faster and more elegant than the repro.
There is no feeling quite like riding a real penny farthing with a big big wheel (I think I was riding one that was about 56 inches). You sit high up and gently sway, looking over the hedges as you ride. It is a fixed wheel but the leverage is so massive that if you try to stop it lifts you out of the saddle.
Another machine of interest to unicyclists is the Crypto Bantam which had an early form of non-freewheeling hub gear. http://oldbike.wordpress.com/1896-crypto-bantam/ . I rode one of these too.
If ever you get the chace to ride a real penny farthing, do it.
I used to ride a penny, always got rubber burns up the inside of my calf, cornering was not its greatest use… but still i loved every minute of it.
There is an organization devoted to the riding of antique bicycles called The Wheelmen. Penny farthings figure prominently in their activities. Your state’s group is headquartered in Mobile and has a Facebook page, Alabama Wheelman.
Here’s a pic of my minipenny. Its loads of fun to ride and many tricks are possible.
It would be rad if some trick penny farthing riders descended on the Worlds in Tasmania!
Pretty tight geo, Tony! I have always wanted to see the Evandale races. A trick competition/demo would be a great addition. Hopefully next year.
Looks like a real thrill. I would hate to have a dug run in front of you though!
I’m always amazed that there typically wasn’t a break. It doesn’t look like you can stop to fast on those. I think some had a little spoon break which was a piece of spoon shaped metal that would push down on the top of the wheel in front of the handle bars.
I have one called the Boneshaker, a modern reproduction available here: http://www.hiwheel.com/boneshakers/index.htm It’s a gas to ride, but there’s enough play when a 230 pound man sits on that big ol’ wheel that I could never really relax and get comfortable.
Reviews of the Coker Wheelman generally seem to suggest to me that it isn’t really of a high enough quality to even consider a Schlumpf.
Mike Penton has a Quax penny with a Schlumpf hub in it. Before I rebuilt my Schlumpf hub into a 36er I had considered using it in a 29" wheel in a minipenny.
My penny was built by Jeff Bones, a penny farthing enthusiast so I guess this is why it has such tight geometry - rather like that of the Classic Hiwheel on the page Moron linked to.