Friday, August 29, 2008

Old Bicycle

This is a picture from 1921 showing an old style bicycle and a motorcycle. I always wondered how they got up on one of these old bicycles, and whether it took two people to get someone going on one. I have seen them in museums before but never really saw an explanation of how to get one started.


  1. I've always wanted to see someone do BMX style spins and stunts on one of those!

  2. It was known as a penny-farthing after the UK coins. More here:

    If I remember correctly, the first person killed on a penny-farthing (not difficult if you think about it) was the son of the Lord Mayor of either London or Liverpool.

  3. You may find this interesting. It is Mark Twain's account of learning how to ride one these.

  4. Hope everyone has time to read John's click, the story of Mark Twain learning to ride one of these things. It was long and detailed, but written only as this great man could tell it. (wonder why that front wheel had to be so big, you fall and you fall a long way).

  5. Re: getting onto a 'penny-farthing' bicycle, as we call them in the UK...

    I've actually seen vids of this being done

    There is a small foot rest just above the small wheel. Left foo on the footrest, holding handlebar in left hand. Push off with right foot.

    Lift yourself up with left foot on the footrest, swing right leg around big wheel (pedal positioned to be horizontal) and when your right foot is on pedal you bring yourself up on your right foot.

    Shifting your weight starts the big wheel turning and the left pedal comes around under your left foot just as you get your butt over the saddle.

    ... I never said it was easy :-)

  6. more thing. The front wheel was big because they didn't have gears. If you had the strength in your legs you could go really fast on these things....on the flat anyway.

    They were the racing bikes of their day. Honestly. The guy on the motorbike is not there to dress the picture up :-)


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