Photo Study The Penny Farthing

Photo taken by me – The MOSI Penny Farthing
Preston, England
March 24, 2016 6:16am CST
Another frightening mode of transport on display at the Museum Of Science & Industry MOSI) is this early Victorian bicycle, which looks as if falling off would result in broke bones and lost teeth. It is fun to think of casually riding over smooth roads doffing a stove-pipe hat to passers-by, but how would the Penny Farthing cope riding over cobbles or potholes? It looks like a contraption for the circus rather than general transportation, but it also looks incredibly cool, stylish and elegant. Arthur Chappell
38 people like this
38 responses
• United States
24 Mar 16
@arthurchappell While I would not be excited to ride it, it has a better balance design than modern bikes in many ways. After thinking about it I decided to find a video about riding one. thought you might be interested so here it is:
How to ride a Penny Farthing by Nate
10 people like this
• Preston, England
24 Mar 16
@Berniezeitler he makes it look easy though he describes going over the handle bars twice - the hopping on as it moves process looks awkward though there is clearly a step to climb up with at the back of the bike which helps - still not for me
3 people like this
@RasmaSandra (16998)
• Riga, Latvia
24 Mar 16
@arthurchappell don't forget that during those times women would ride with their gentlemen and with long dresses. I shudder to think if material caught in the spokes.
6 people like this
@dodoazo (17859)
• Philippines
25 Mar 16
Thank you, friend. This satisfies my curiosity. The biker has demonstrated how it is in riding this historical bike.
2 people like this
@Susan2015 (20413)
• United States
24 Mar 16
Don't think that I would want to try and ride that thing.
7 people like this
• United States
12 Aug 16
I said the same pretty much. It just looks dangerous to start with. I'm sure it would be a big challenge to learn how to ride. A bicycle was difficult in itself. I remember how hard it was to learn how to ride.
1 person likes this
@millie02 (6908)
• United Kingdom
24 Mar 16
It does not look very safe does it, have you ever tried to ride one?
3 people like this
• Preston, England
24 Mar 16
no, I only see them in museums
2 people like this
@JolietJake (51054)
• United States
24 Mar 16
I'm sitting here looking and thinking 'But how do you manage to turn?' You're sitting on it pedaling (or standing or whatever) and your legs are straddling the backbone...turning the wheel, where the pedals are located, seems it would put your legs in an awful awkward position...
2 people like this
• Preston, England
24 Mar 16
it doesn't look very manouverable
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (54380)
• Los Angeles, California
24 Mar 16
How in the heck did they ever climb aboard one of those big wheelers?
2 people like this
• Preston, England
24 Mar 16
@JohnRoberts probably needed a ladder I expect
@cacay1 (32746)
• Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
25 Mar 16
Wow, first time to see a bike like this awesome, intriguing performance and design.Kudos to the designer.
2 people like this
@Marcyaz (35693)
• United States
24 Mar 16
I can't believe the size of that wheel and it does look like something from out of a circus.
2 people like this
@owlwings (39099)
• Cambridge, England
24 Mar 16
From what I can see, this machine lacks the essential step just above the 'farthing' wheel. Tleap o mount one of these beasts you have to push it until it is going and then leap up onto the (miniscule) saddle at the top, getting your feet in sync with the flailing pedals (there was no free wheel on most of them). You would have to be very agile because the handlebars and seat are at head height! A step above the small wheel was a great help because it allowed one to sort of scoot the bike before actually leaping on (ouch!). Braking was another hazard. As you can see from the photo, the brake is no more than a simple lever which pushed a bit of iron hard onto the front tyre. Press it too hard and you and the small wheel would continue rolling on over the top of the big one! Cobbles and potholes were, of course, a hazard, as were tramlines for any bike. Larger wheels do tend to even out smaller irregularities but, even so, it was good to avoid major holes and especially cart ruts and tramlines. Get stuck in a tramline and you might not be able to go anywhere except the depot!
2 people like this
@DWDavis (10774)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
24 Mar 16
Curious after reading your post, I found a YouTube video on how to mount, ride, and dismount a Penny Farthing. The fellow made it look easy.
2 people like this
• United States
24 Mar 16
I would like to try riding one just for the heck of it with a helmet on of course.
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9745)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
24 Mar 16
I have always wanted to ride one of those.
2 people like this
@fishtiger58 (30344)
• Momence, Illinois
24 Mar 16
I do believe that seat is over my head lol. I don't think I would like to ride that bike.
2 people like this
@Inlemay (16489)
• South Africa
13 Apr 16
did you know that the schools say that people who dont get to ride a tricycle or bicycle might have learning problems - they say its a great developer of the brain, what then of all the previous Master Minds, what did they do to stimulate the brain if there were no bicycles
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
13 Apr 16
Great because I can't ride a bike @Inlemay
1 person likes this
@Inlemay (16489)
• South Africa
14 Apr 16
@arthurchappell and how was your brilliance at school? Let me use you as a statistic the overcame the obstacle!
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
14 Apr 16
@Inlemay I was quite average at school but later got a degree in literature and philosophy
1 person likes this
@dodoazo (17859)
• Philippines
25 Mar 16
I find it weird. I have not even seen one here in our country. I am very curious on how it is being ridden. I search the YouTube and I find several videos. It is indeed a challenging and a wonderful bike. I find also entertaining to see bikers in a race using this kind of a bike.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
25 Mar 16
@dodoazo they went out of fashion by the start of the 20th century
1 person likes this
@dodoazo (17859)
• Philippines
25 Mar 16
@arthurchappell Nevertheless, people would love to see it in a festival. People also love it to witness bikers in a race using that unique bike.
1 person likes this
@dodoazo (17859)
• Philippines
26 Mar 16
@arthurchappell Thank you for the update. I have no idea about that for we're not used to this kind of bicycle.
1 person likes this
@mammots (3282)
• Philippines
25 Mar 16
I find it difficult to ride a normal bike how much more this one. I think this bike is designed for riders with very long legs and for roads with no traffic at all.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
25 Mar 16
@mammots there were no cars when the Penny Farthing was on the road
1 person likes this
@mammots (3282)
• Philippines
25 Mar 16
@arthurchappell Oh so thats why they felt confident in designing such an impractical kind of bike.
1 person likes this
@suzzy3 (8362)
30 Mar 16
I could not ride one of those. I don't know how they got away with it.
1 person likes this
@rina110383 (24135)
30 Mar 16
If I'll riding on that bicycle, I have to make sure I had days and weeks of practice.
1 person likes this
@rebelann (39680)
• El Paso, Texas
25 Mar 16
I remember seeing one of those when I was about 7, dad was stationed at Butzbach Army Base in Germany in the late 1950s and not too far from us was a makeshift museum that had one of them. To me it was HUGE, the big wheel was almost as big as I was.
1 person likes this
@just4him (113259)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
25 Mar 16
Interesting bike, but I would never contemplate riding it.
1 person likes this
• Kolkata, India
25 Mar 16
It is awesome
1 person likes this