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The History of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle

It is hard to walk past a Penny-Farthing bicycle without taking a second and even a third look at it. A person riding atop this 19th century mode of transportation with its enormous front wheel and smaller rear wheel, makes for a memorable sight. The Penny-Farthing bicycle played an important part in the development of the bicycles we enjoy riding today. Furthermore, the Penny-Farthing bicycle is as fascinating an invention today as it was when it was first designed.

The Penny-Farthing bicycle was invented in 1871 and goes by a number of other names. It is also known as the Ordinary bicycle or the High-Wheeled bicycle. Some know it as the Penny-Farthing bicycle because its wheels bring to mind two coins. British inventor James Starley designed the bicycle with a front wheel measuring approximately 60 inches. The purpose of the front wheel's size was to help a rider cover a reasonable amount of distance in fewer minutes, with less pedaling effort. The Penny-Farthing bicycle with its metal structure and rubber wheels allowed its occupant to pump the pedals positioned on the sides of the front wheel while moving easily along the streets.

The Penny-Farthing bicycle was enjoyed by many riders, especially young men who liked to travel swiftly through the streets. Though it was a popular item, every owner of a Penny-Farthing bicycle had to tackle the task of getting into the high seat. With the help of a step near the rear wheel and good balance, an owner soon learned how to get onto the bicycle. It also took some practice to learn the art of getting off the bicycle after a long ride. Despite the exhilarating ride, a person's lofty position on a Penny-Farthing bicycle carried with it some dangers. First, the rider would have a far distance to tumble if he ever lost control of the bicycle. Also, many riders would fall over the handlebars if hit with an unexpected hole or other rough place in the road.

In a great many cases, the exciting ride offered by a Penny-Farthing bicycle outweighed the risks for many road trip enthusiasts. The popularity of the Penny-Farthing bicycle served as an early indication of the public's enduring love for bicycling.       

To find out more about the Penny-Farthing bicycle, please visit:

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