The Penny-Farth Bike: A Victorian Symbol

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Penny-Farthing Bicycle circa 1895
The ordinary, high wheel or penny-farthing was the first true bicycle with which actual speed and distance could be achieved in a practical manner. Given the absence of a gearing system, larger and larger wheels were built with the intention of increasing speed and ultimately culminating in the classically oversized penny-farthing wheel, which measured 1.5m (60″) in diameter. The name refers to the British penny and farthing coins of the time; the former being much larger than the latter so that the side view of the bicycle resembled two such coins placed next to one another.Based on the original French Boneshaker, James Starley and others produced bicycles with front wheel of ever increasing size, starting about 1870. In 1878 Albert Pope began manufacturing the Columbia bicycle just outside of Boston, thus starting their nearly two decade-long heyday in America. Although the trend was relatively short-lived, the penny-farthing bicycle has since become a prominent historical symbol of the late Victorian era. Its brief popularity also coincided with the birth of cycling as a sport.

This concept bike is floating around the net: a Hubless road bike by Bradford Waugh. Instead of using some sort of magnet, the Hubless Road Bike Concept pictured will use geared rollers for a smooth ride. More interesting than the hubs, the crankset is hooked up to a roller which will power the hubs.

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STRiDA , portable urban transportation, the Green Shadow is built for speed. Designed by Spanish graphic and industrial design firm Mr. Onüff, the Green Shadow features an on-board computer that tracks mileage, heart rate and calories making it the sleekest exercise bike ever. The chain is encased in the body panels so no chance of a pants leg getting stuck. Stopping power is provided by front and rear disc brakes while front shocks absorb the bumps along the way. The Green Shadow was designed with strength, aerodynamics and speed in mind.

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3 thoughts on “The Penny-Farth Bike: A Victorian Symbol”

  1. by all means dareen. i wish there are peopl in big cities who would have a fleet and rent it out to people. but the new ones are really cool. enjoy your day dareen! the sun is so beautiful today in philly.

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