UDC Penny Farthing (and Penny's in General)


Throughout my time Unicycling, I’ve dabbled a bit with road riding but always been primarily a Muni rider. A lot of this has been due to never being totally happy with my road setups (2 36ers and a Schlumpf [that I’m selling! Buy it!]).

I saw the UDC Penny’s a year or two ago and thought they looked cool but they were a bit too spendy.

Fast forward to now and I’m not really all that happy again with any of my road setups (including my road bike). I stumbled over this guys website today: http://calloftheroad.smugmug.com/ and think it’s pretty cool he’s doing loaded touring on a Penny (something I dream of doing).

Which has got me thinking about those UDC Penny’s again. Are they any more comfortable than a unicycle? Is there a learning curve to riding one even with experience riding a unicycle? Are the UDC ones well built? Has anyone bought one stateside (I’m wondering if shipping would be ridiculous)?

The first 36er I bought I rode a fair amount and loved it. I’m not sure if it was because it was a new thing or because I was a newer rider or what, but it was great. Even though I’ve since sold it, and replaced it with an identical 36er, the love is just not there.

I dunno…

BungeeJoe, if you read this, I wish I had your drive.

Killian, I’m with you. I’ve always been fascinated by the Penny Farthing. I’ve never thought about riding one a great distance, but it would be awesome to do it. I think you should look in to it. But don’t stop riding a unicycle. Let us know what you decide.

Many years ago I rode a genuine Victorian penny farthing and a 20th century replica. It was a great experience and I would jump at the chance of another ride. They are easy to ride on the flat. I just got on and rode it. Downhill is another matter.

However, the financial realities of married life mean I will never be able to buy one.

I dare say if I’d not persuaded her to let me buy the KH36, the Moto Guzzi, the Dipper concertina, the Lachenal concertina, and the Giant Anyroad bike I might have got away with it…:o

  1. Joff is awesome! His blog is fantastic.
  2. Yes the UDC pennyfarthings are well made (but I would say that!). They are made in the same factory as makes some of the Nimbus frames.
  3. Mike, I like your bucket list.
  4. There are several penny farthings in the USA, but not owned by unicyclists by what I can tell.
  5. Cost of shipping to USA, is stupidly expensive if they are shipped complete. The best way to ship is as kit and large rim separately… then build the wheel yourself.


So say a person wanted to ride one in traffic with occasional stops. Doable? How do they compare comfort wise to a unicycle?

Roger what is shipping like as a kit? Thanks for the reply btw. I highly value your opinion.

Building the wheel wouldn’t be much of a problem.

Also is there a way to add a brake easily? How often are tire changes required?


I’m no expert, but I think Pennies use solid tyres usually, which presumably last a long time as long as they stay on the rim.

Yeah I know that, but I’m wondering how fast wearing they are. I’ve heard it can be a pain to replace them.

Another Option

I have a “Boneshaker” replica penny farthing (see: http://www.hiwheel.com). In my fairly limited experience riding it, I have never been able to settle down and get as comfortable as I am on a 36" unicycle. I think part of it is that the spokes are so long and the wheel is so heavy that I’m always wrestling the wheel. Riding one made by UDC, which is designed to be ridden more than merely be a showpiece, might be different.

And Coker

Coker is also again advertising their Wheelman penny farthing (and there’s one on eBay right now). I’ll let you make your own conclusions about Coker’s quality relative to UDC.

The corker offering is “merely” 36" - sort of a sub-scale penny farthing, no? At that size is seems to make as much sense to use one’s choice of 36er unicyle parts. Does a penny need “trail” ?

In terms of larger, more traditional sizes, I wonder what is the the true limiting issue? There are threads here about scarf-joinng and oversewing tires, and there’s a guy on instructables.com who claims to have re-sized surplus steel rims with his hands and a plywood form to weld into a penny, no rolling mill needed.

Is it possible to join tubes with an overlap, or a do a tubeless mod, if the rim welds are complete without pinholes?

Killian, wouldn’t Walt build one?

Probably but it took long enough for him to build a unicycle frame.

I emailed UDC with more detailed questions, hopefully I’ll hear back.

I’m probably mostly concerned about dealing with multiple stops on a route. If I turn onto a new road, do I need to dismount every time and then climb back up on thing once there’s no traffic? Or is there a clever workaround?

Still kind of on the fence…

I’ve only ridden a penny once, but mounting it involved pushing it along at a jogging pace to get some momentum going and then climbing up on the peg and landing in the seat when the pedals are in the right position. You have to time it right.

I could see the rolling mount getting tedious if you were doing it frequently in traffic. Rapid acceleration right after the mount is tricky too. Maybe more experienced riders have a more efficient mounting technique.

I’ve also had a hankering for a penny farthing for a while now. I plan to one day setup a proper workshop and build one.


Hi Killian and Co.,

As its summer I’m currently commuting 3-4 days a week in my 54" UDC penny.

On this commute there’s 4 major intersections where i need to check traffic before proceeding. Being on top of a 54" wheel means I can see over most hedges, and sometimes sneak across without dismounting. Other times I step back on the pegs and scoot across, meaning it’s easier to dismount at short notice if a car comes from nowhere. Then there’s also the “superman seat grab” quick dismount, which I have pulled a couple of times, basically jumping off the penny holding the seat, as you have no other option given short notice and impending traffic.

For red lights, I usually dismount, unless i have a handy light pole or sign to hold onto. For me, trying to track stand on a big penny is asking for trouble. Mini pennies are doable though. Once you actually get some experience riding the big big wheel, mounting and dismounting from a standing start actually becomes second nature and doesn’t take much time at all.

Also, there is actually a heap of info on a few previous threads buried in the forums. Here’s a link to get you started:


I don’t ride my 36er schlumpf much anymore, as I find the commute on the big penny more relaxing before a long day at the coal face. I still ride my my muni’s though, as my off-road freewheeling mini penny project isn’t finished yet.



Thank you all for the responses. I have some thinking to do.

I certainly get why that would be a total gas to ride, but that’s some pretty specific gene-splitting!

When a mountain bike won’t do you…

And a unicycle is too pedestrian…

A penny farthing is too big…

A mini penny doesn’t freewheel…

Cook yourself up an off-road freewheeling mini penny.

Lovely kid - and despite the rumours, they never proved that James Bond was the father.

The trick on a 36 uni or a fixed wheel bike is, as far as possible, to read the road ahead and time your approach to junctions. Most of the time it is possible to avoid coming to a complete halt. I would be reluctant to ride a penny farthing on busy urban roads, but I’m sure it could be done.

As always, if you are riding something “weird and unexpected” it makes sense to be the one who makes concessions (including dismounting when necessary) if there is any risk of conflict with other road users.