A Halfpenny-Farthing Bicycle

@JudyEv (123170)
Bunbury, Australia
September 9, 2017 2:18pm CST
While waiting to catch the ferry in Fishguard, Wales, we had a meal at the hotel there. Outside was this interesting cycle we promptly named the ‘halfpenny farthing’ as the front wheel wasn’t as large as a true penny-farthing. Wikipedia tells me the penny-farthing was also known as a ‘high wheel, high wheeler and ordinary’. It has a large front wheel and a much smaller rear wheel and was the first machine to be called a ‘bicycle’. The term ‘penny-farthing’ seems to be have used only from about 1891 onwards. Mostly they were known as ‘bicycles’ until the late 1890s when the term ‘ordinary’ was used to distinguish them from safety bicycles. The cranks and pedals of the penny-farthing are fixed directly to the hub. Sitting almost on top of the wheel as the rider does makes it relatively easy for him to be pitched forward over the bike should the wheel hit an obstacle of some sort. I’m not much good on a conventional bike but hate to think what I’d be like on one of these.
19 people like this
19 responses
@amadeo (65730)
• United States
9 Sep
what a horrible name for a bike. No thanks.My legs are short.
5 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
I made the name up. I should have said that in the text. I wouldn't attempt to ride a bike nowadays. I was never much good at it.
@amadeo (65730)
• United States
11 Sep
@JudyEv I used to ride them all the time.Then in my later years.Stop as in fear on my balance and deafness
1 person likes this
• Rochester, New York
9 Sep
That is a beautiful bike. I know I would never be able to ride on like that. lol
5 people like this
@GardenGerty (99193)
• United States
10 Sep
I cannot ride a bike at all, unless you count a stationary bike.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (39218)
• Cambridge, England
9 Sep
It does call itself a Penny Farthing but I agree with your reclassification! The old penny farthings didn't have luxury items like pneumatic tyres and caliper brakes (let alone on the rear wheel!). I'd have trouble with the pedals swinging about and the wheel rubbing on my legs as I turned corners!
4 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
I think this has probably been concocted by a backyard handyman. I'd forgotten about the fixed wheel bikes.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (39218)
• Cambridge, England
11 Sep
@JudyEv No, these bikes are made commercially (though probably individually and by hand - I can't imagine that they have many sales). They cost a little less than £500. The one shown below has no front brake, only one on the rear, and the frame style is a little different. The one you saw may be a different model or by a different maker but they are certainly something which one can buy from certain specialist cycle shops. Since the wheel and the pedal cranks are fixed, you theoretically don't need a front brake because you can slow your progress by pedalling 'backwards', so to speak. Unicyclists do this all the time and I notice that the one I link to is sold by a unicycle specialist.
It's almost a unicycle! This will certainly turn a few heads. Most penny farthings don't have pneumatic tyres, the Quax penny-farthing does, this makes a great difference.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
@owlwings I've never seen one of the smaller ones before. I wonder if they're sold with trainer wheels? Just joking of course.
2 people like this
@xFiacre (4431)
• Ireland
9 Sep
@judyev I've long wondered how you get on and off a penny-farthing. Looks most impractical.
4 people like this
@owlwings (39218)
• Cambridge, England
9 Sep
See my detailed description to Scott, in another thread. I suspect that the owner of this one pushes to get it going (one leg either side of the frame) and then leaps into the saddle, deftly connecting feet with pedals but he could mount it much as one does an ordinary (man's) bike.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
I'd need a mounting block like they had for ladies riding side-saddle. As @owlwings says this one wouldn't be too much different from a 'ordinary' man's bike.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41158)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
9 Sep
I still have no idea how they get on and off of these things.
3 people like this
@owlwings (39218)
• Cambridge, England
9 Sep
I'm not sure how you'd mount the one shown but it is only a little taller than a standard bike, so I imagine that you'd put your left foot on the left pedal, push down and swing your right leg over the back. The old penny-farthings were much taller and usually had a small step at the back which you put one foot on whilst pushing off and then leap up into the saddle and catch the pedals with your feet as they came round ... quite an art!
3 people like this
@teamfreak16 (41158)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
10 Sep
@owlwings - We have guys that ride them in all the parades here. They always look like they are having lots of fun. I think I'll stick with my mountain bike, though.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
@teamfreak16 Penny farthings belong with walking on stilts - nice to see but I wouldn't want to do it.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (77983)
• United States
9 Sep
I'll stick to my regular bike.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
I think that is probably wise.
@Corbin5 (106150)
• United States
9 Sep
I would think a lot of practice would be needed to master the riding of that bike. It is a unique bike, for sure.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
I think perhaps someone has made this up in their backyard shed.
1 person likes this
@BelleStarr (38213)
• United States
9 Sep
Those look scary to me lol no thanks
3 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Sep
They're not for me either. Much too tricky.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (157088)
• Switzerland
10 Sep
This is a modern one, it looks similar to the old bicycles, but if you compare an old photos they are not at all the same.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
It looks like it's got front and rear brakes which would make it modern.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (157088)
• Switzerland
12 Sep
@JudyEv I am sure they had not, but also the wheels were different, they had no tires.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (33125)
• Philippines
10 Sep
I won't ride one of those. I'd fall for sure!
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
I wouldn't be able to get on the thing for starters.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (33125)
• Philippines
12 Sep
@JudyEv you and me both!
1 person likes this
@just4him (116853)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
9 Sep
It's been a while since I was on any kind of bike, so doubtful I could ride that one.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
I wouldn't attempt to ride it. I know my limitations - well, some of them.
1 person likes this
@just4him (116853)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
12 Sep
@JudyEv It's a good thing to know your limitations.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (99193)
• United States
10 Sep
This is a fun find. I have in the past seen a regular penny farthing ridden at a festival or two.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
That's where I've mostly seen them too.
@Asylum (48281)
• Manchester, England
10 Sep
I was even aware that such a bicycle had ever been designed.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
It seems they are commercially made.
1 person likes this
@acelawrites (10931)
• Philippines
10 Sep
It looks so beautiful!
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
I wish I'd seen it being ridden.
@pgntwo (21648)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
10 Sep
That one has brakes - a thruppence-ha'penny!
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
More for your money!
1 person likes this
@YrNemo (12657)
9 Sep
Looks very elegant that one.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
They look elegant being ridden too.
1 person likes this
@vandana7 (64839)
• India
9 Sep
I came to know such things exist when Peter (pgiblett) came up with a post on it.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
I've seen the large ones quite often but not this size.
1 person likes this
@kobesbuddy (46330)
• East Tawas, Michigan
10 Sep
My grandmother had a similar, old bicycle in her barn. Except this one had three wheels, a big wheel up front and two smaller wheels in the back. Plus, there weren't any hand brakes. You have sure seen some unique things, on your vacation!:)
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
I haven't seen ones with two wheels at the back. At least not that I remember.
1 person likes this
@kobesbuddy (46330)
• East Tawas, Michigan
12 Sep
@JudyEv The entire framework was steel, except for a little bit of rubber around each tire.
1 person likes this
@salonga (28016)
• Philippines
11 Sep
I wonder how I could manage to run this bike lol!
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (123170)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Sep
Getting on it would be the difficult part.
1 person likes this