Penny-Farthing – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Bicycle Types Glossary

I. What is a Penny-Farthing bicycle?

A Penny-Farthing bicycle, also known as a high wheel, high wheeler, or ordinary, is a type of bicycle that was popular in the late 19th century. It is characterized by its large front wheel and much smaller rear wheel. The name “Penny-Farthing” comes from the British penny and farthing coins, which were different in size just like the wheels of the bicycle.

II. What are the characteristics of a Penny-Farthing?

The most distinctive feature of a Penny-Farthing is its large front wheel, which can be up to five feet in diameter. The smaller rear wheel is typically only a few inches in diameter. The rider sits high up on the frame, with the pedals attached directly to the front wheel. The handlebars are positioned high above the front wheel, giving the rider a more upright posture.

III. How did the Penny-Farthing get its name?

The name “Penny-Farthing” comes from the British penny and farthing coins. The front wheel of the bicycle is much larger than the rear wheel, just like the penny is larger than the farthing. This naming convention was popularized in the late 19th century when the Penny-Farthing bicycle was at the height of its popularity.

IV. What is the history of the Penny-Farthing?

The Penny-Farthing bicycle was invented in the 1870s and quickly became a popular mode of transportation for wealthy young men. Its design allowed for greater speed and efficiency compared to earlier bicycles with smaller wheels. However, the Penny-Farthing was also more dangerous due to its high center of gravity and lack of brakes.

V. What are the advantages and disadvantages of riding a Penny-Farthing?

One of the main advantages of riding a Penny-Farthing is the sense of nostalgia and history that comes with it. Many enthusiasts enjoy the challenge of mastering the unique riding style and the attention they receive while riding a Penny-Farthing. However, there are also several disadvantages, including the high risk of injury from falls and the difficulty of mounting and dismounting the tall frame.

VI. How popular are Penny-Farthings today?

While Penny-Farthings are no longer a common mode of transportation, they have experienced a resurgence in popularity among enthusiasts and collectors. There are several clubs and events dedicated to the preservation and celebration of these historic bicycles. Some modern manufacturers even produce replica Penny-Farthings for those who wish to experience the thrill of riding one for themselves. Overall, Penny-Farthings may not be as popular as they once were, but they continue to hold a special place in the hearts of cycling enthusiasts around the world.