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Are Penny-farthings road bikes?

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Are Penny-farthings road bikes?

Old 06-23-10, 07:48 PM
  #1  
Onan
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Are Penny-farthings road bikes?

I was driving home from the beach this morning and I saw the coolest thing-- two people riding penny-farthings along the side of the highway! It caught me totally by surprise-- I've never seen anyone actually riding one of those things in my entire life. This was on Maryland's Eastern Shore. They were wearing road cycling attire-- helment, jersey, shorts.
The front tire looked pricey just based on the enormous size alone. Just sharing

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Old 06-23-10, 07:50 PM
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I don't think I've ever seen one, either.

Has anyone ridden one?
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Old 06-23-10, 07:57 PM
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Can you imagine off-roading on a Penny farthing ?

You'd look like Bobby Hull.
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Old 06-23-10, 08:13 PM
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A least they didn't look like they were holding their dicks while riding:

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Old 06-23-10, 08:15 PM
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My LBS has a replica from the 30's on display.
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Old 06-23-10, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Onan View Post
They were wearing road cycling attire-- helment, jersey, shorts.
There's a company in Colorado that makes really amazing "modern" Ordinaries. Threadless headsets and stems, dual-pivot rear brake caliper, pneumatic rear tire, multiple colors, standard saddle, etc. Pricey, but I could see someone wearing modern cycling clothing on one.

There's also Rideable Bicycle Replicas which are much less expensive and more classically styled, more suitable for tweed than lycra.
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Old 06-23-10, 08:42 PM
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I think they were the original road bike. The bike front wheel was an early means of increasing the gear inch ratio as to achieve some speed. I'd suppose riding them in town would be like riding around in high gear. A little tough to crank.

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Old 06-23-10, 08:46 PM
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If people were riding them on the road, they are road bicycles.

A guy who was doing a round-the-world tour on a penny farthing (ordinary) dropped by the start area of the PBP in 2003 to see us all off. And a guy who owned a bicycle shop in a small town near where I lived in Alberta had two or three of them in the back of the shop.

I want one.
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Old 06-23-10, 08:46 PM
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If their legs were shaved - yes, they are road bikes.

That is pretty cool though.
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Old 06-23-10, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by gitarzan View Post
I think they were the original road bike. The bike front wheel was an early means of increasing the gear inch ratio as to achieve some speed. I'd suppose riding them in town would be like riding around in high gear. A little tough to crank.
Actually, quite the opposite. You're right about the gear inch thing, but it's the opposite problem. The gearing of a p-far is limited by the rider's inseam, so depending on how tall you are you're pretty much stuck in a low-middle-ish gear all the time, roughly like being cross-chained in the big ring. Might be a bit steep for going up hills, but not difficult at all to turn over and top speed is limited.
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Old 06-23-10, 09:24 PM
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Interesting. I always wanted to ride one at least once in my life.

That and a bow legged w... Never mind.
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Old 06-23-10, 09:29 PM
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Me too. I think I'd like to own one some time just to take out for gits and shiggles.
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Old 06-23-10, 09:50 PM
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you decide



the LBS has one for sale but they won't give test rides for it >:C
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Old 06-23-10, 09:58 PM
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How do you dismount from one of those?
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Old 06-23-10, 10:09 PM
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There is a gentleman around here who rides one. Kind of surprising the first few times you see one. Not so much after a while.
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Old 06-23-10, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
There's a company in Colorado that makes really amazing "modern" Ordinaries..
At almost $5k, that is pricey for a novelty item. I wonder how that compares to an inflation-adjusted typical model sold in the 1890s?

I'd be apprehensive to get up (if I could) and ride one of those. Imagine the fall. Then again, riders back in the day might be a bit scared to ride in the traffic that we face today.
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Old 06-23-10, 10:15 PM
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BF member Blaise F is ridng one around the world.
1,000 miles complete

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJCQl...layer_embedded
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Old 06-23-10, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Vol View Post
At almost $5k, that is pricey for a novelty item. I wonder how that compares to an inflation-adjusted typical model sold in the 1890s?
.
Probably a pretty good deal. I had to do a case study in business school where we compared a lot of average items to 1920's prices and wages, to see what percentage of wages it was, an exercise at showing how cheap things have become. Food, just basic staple groceries (just flour, coffee, sugar, vegetables, nothing processed) were like, 30% of household income. Something like a bicycle, nice radio, would be like, 3 or 4 months wages for the average person.
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Old 06-24-10, 02:01 AM
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A short story for you by Mark Twain called Taming the Bicycle (it answers the question of how one dismounts from a penny farthing)

https://www.bikereader.com/contributors/misc/taming.html

"I thought the matter over, and concluded I could do it. So I went down and bought a barrel of Pond's Extract and a bicycle. The Expert came home with me to instruct me. We chose the back yard, for the sake of privacy, and went to work.

Mine was not a full-grown bicycle, but only a colt -- a fifty-inch, with the pedals shortened up to forty-eight -- and skittish, like any other colt. The Expert explained the thing's points briefly, then he got on its back and rode around a little, to show me how easy it was to do. He said that the dismounting was perhaps the hardest thing to learn, and so we would leave that to the last. But he was in error there. He found, to his surprise and joy, that all that he needed to do was to get me on to the machine and stand out of the way; I could get off, myself. Although I was wholly inexperienced, I dismounted in the best time on record. He was on that side, shoving up the machine; we all came down with a crash, he at the bottom, I next, and the machine on top.

We examined the machine, but it was not in the least injured. This was hardly believable. Yet the Expert assured me that it was true; in fact, the examination proved it. I was partly to realize, then, how admirably these things are constructed. We applied some Pond's Extract, and resumed. The Expert got on the other side to shove up this time, but I dismounted on that side; so the result was as before.

The machine was not hurt. We oiled ourselves up again, and resumed. This time the Expert took up a sheltered position behind, but somehow or other we landed on him again.

He was full of surprised admiration; said it was abnormal. She was all right, not a scratch on her, not a timber started anywhere. I said it was wonderful, while we were greasing up, but he said that when I came to know these steel spider-webs I would realize that nothing but dynamite could cripple them. Then he limped out to position, and we resumed once more."
...........


Read on!! It's great!
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Old 06-24-10, 02:06 AM
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Man you guys need to get current. $5k won't buy you anything. I went custom with a chainsaw

My old ride:


My new ride:
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Old 06-24-10, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rollin View Post
Man you guys need to get current. $5k won't buy you anything. I went custom with a chainsaw

My old ride:


My new ride:
LOL! brilliant.

I think they can safely be called a road bike. I wouldn't be trying any MTB downhilling on one, anyway...
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Old 06-24-10, 02:47 AM
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We had one at the shop decades ago. Rode it up & down the street a few times .... that was enough.
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Old 06-24-10, 06:22 AM
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How would one take a bf worthy photo of one. Yes a white garage door, but which way to face it, there is no gear cluster.
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Old 06-24-10, 07:03 AM
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Crit racing on Penny Farthings is insane. There is a reason that the form of bicycle we currently ride was originally called a Safety Bike.

A fall from one of those at speed could easily be fatal, or at least multiple broken bones.
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Old 06-24-10, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rollin View Post
My new ride:
But on a Penny Farthing, you're going to need to go to a much deeper section rim.
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