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Old 09-11-04, 12:33 PM   #1
TandemGeek
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High-Wheeler / Ordinary / Pennyfarthing

I'm in the market for a 48" - 52" Ordinary, aka. High-Wheeler or Pennyfarthing bicycle. I'm looking for feedback and/or recommendations from folks who have acquired a Mesicek, Martin Cvrc<caron>ek, Rideable Replica, or one of the other new production ordinaries or perhaps a lead on an authentic, antique example.
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Old 09-12-04, 10:15 AM   #2
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I have only ridden an ordinary once, IIRC it was not a replica and brakes were non existent. It scared
the h.. out of me. Maneuverability is marginal, the wheel has significantly more momentum than a
safety bike and braking is a balance between reverse pedal pressure, whatever brake comes on the
machine and the tendency of the bike to throw you forward over the wheel into the ground. I would
suggest absolutely flat terrain, low traffic conditions and a full face helmet for your riding. Neck protection is left to the gods. You are several feet higher than a safety bike and as the old saying goes
the bigger they are the harder they fall. Those narrow tires can easily get caught in grates and cracks.
Not to rain on your parade, and if you have ridden one before you may know all this. Ordinaries are good
for parades though, if you check out the route carefully in advance. Mounting was not easy but dismounting unassisted is like getting off a 36" + unicycle, but the ordinary is a lot heavier. Steve
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Old 09-12-04, 10:53 AM   #3
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I met a guy who broke the (ordinary) record for cross country on a 100yr+ ordinary, SanFran to Boston. He then rode to DC to join a group of distance riders who converged on DC for a group ride from near my home in Mt. Rainer, Md. to the Capitol for a rally and then back to Mt. Rainer. It was called Bike2000.

He climbed a hill that some safety riders hads to walk, apologizing for passing everybody but if he slowed down, he would have been walking too. He had to walk alot of downhills and climbs coming over the Rocky Mtns.

So, one can ride an ordinary other than parades, but it is not easy or very safe. Good luck finding one! I would love to have a toy like that! He told me not to call it a high-wheeler. I guess in the day it had "ordinary" size wheels, safety bikes might more accurately be called small wheelers!
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Old 09-12-04, 04:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sch
I would suggest absolutely flat terrain, low traffic conditions and a full face helmet for your riding. Neck protection is left to the gods. .... if you have ridden one before you may know all this. Ordinaries are good for parades though,....
RAM on Ordinaries...
http://www.thewheelmen.org/sections/...ry_peter_1.asp

We have several friends who have been doing 100k's on their Ordinaries with The Wheelmen and you'll most likely find Larry Black tooling around at LAB cycling events in the DC area on one of his Ordinaries. I'm just looking to buy one and am looking for feedback from any one who may own and ride one on a regular basis who has formed an opinion on some of the various models and/or who may know of the whereabouts of an authentic antique. I'm pretty sure the Victory is a safe bet, albeit a bit expensive -- as are the Czech-made models. But, always good to check around.
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Old 09-12-04, 05:38 PM   #5
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Now that I know Larry Black rides ordinarys, I want one less. Thank you, because I don't need to be desiring a lot of junk I don't need and can't afford. That guy who rode across US was cool though!
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Old 09-12-04, 05:58 PM   #6
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Now that I know....
No offense, but Larry is a friend via the tandem community, is not a celebrity or politician, and to the best of my knowledge doesn't read this board and cannot rebut anything posted here so let's leave it at that. If you have a beef with him please address it to him directly... (peace)


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That guy who rode across US was cool though!
Actually it was two guys... two 69-year old guys: Peter Matthews from Dublin, Ireland and Gary Sanderson from Verona, NJ.

Last edited by livngood; 09-12-04 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 09-14-04, 09:09 PM   #7
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I had this dream once when I was little were a guy drove up to my front door in a penyfarthing and tried to shoot me in the face with a really long revolver.
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Old 09-14-04, 09:26 PM   #8
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I was recently in a parade where a man was riding one of those types of bikes. I was so absolutely amazed by the thing, I almost wrecked into the back of the vehicle I was following. After the parade, I watched him stop the thing by standing on the back wheel. Those are truly awesome pieces of macinery.
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Old 09-21-04, 12:28 PM   #9
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Mark,

I have no idea about this kind of bicycles, but I found this recently:

http://www.unicycle.com/shopping/sho...ny%2DFarthings

Hope that helps!
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Old 09-21-04, 01:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rincewind8
I have no idea about this kind of bicycles, but I found this recently
Yeah, I've seen these. I'm not sure why, but somewhere in Asia they're producing an entire family of 36" wheel bicycles, including the psuedo Ordinary and a unicycle. There are several individuals who have created multiple "virtual" etail businesses who are marketing them as "bike bikes" or "monster bikes" such as the gentleman behind this outfit: http://coltonbicycles.com/

You'll notice all kinds of knock-offs of low-riders, chopper/stingrays, etc... on his Web site and links to the other "businesses". I guess if you launch a family of businesses to sell the same products you have a better chance of creating the impression of "fair market value" if price comparison shoppers don't figure out the connection.

Speaking of off-shore sourcing, I suspect there is at least one project in the works to bring in true replica ordinaries from Asia for 1/2 - 1/6 the cost of what companies like Rideable Replicas or Victory must market their ordinaries for to remain solvent. The idea of being able to acquire a high-quality replica for $500 that has the same level of quality as a hand-built model that sells for 6x - 8x that amount seems to good to be true and must certainly be unnerving to the folks who have carved out a niche for themselves building these unique machines here in the states. Given my predisposition towards domestic hand-built bicycles, I suspect I'll most likely pass on any off-shore replica and do what I can to keep the folks here at home in the biz.
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Old 09-21-04, 07:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Rincewind8
Mark,

I have no idea about this kind of bicycles, but I found this recently:

http://www.unicycle.com/shopping/sho...ny%2DFarthings

Hope that helps!
Somehow, the idea of a frewheeling ordinary seems much more scary than a fixed crank ordinary.
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Old 09-21-04, 07:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Somehow, the idea of a frewheeling ordinary seems much more scary than a fixed crank ordinary.
Ain't that the truth!
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