Behold the Highwheel (Penny Farthing)! The Bicycle that Changed the World!
A look at an 1886 Victor Light Roadster highwheel (penny farthing) bicycle. Plus, a little background on this type of bike – one of the greatest inventions of all time.
Riding a highwheel your head is about 9 feet above the ground, so you tower over the terrain and can see forever. There’s no chain or gears so the bike rolls along whisper quiet.
The almost five-foot-high front wheel spans holes and ruts for a nice, smooth ride. And, the solid rubber tires can’t go flat or get ruined by a piece of glass or a rock.
While they’re heavier than modern bikes – this Victor weighs 58 pounds – highwheels move right along. On a flat 10-mile loop course in Connecticut I was able to ride a century (100 miles) in 7 hours.
It was this ability to cover long distances that made the highwheel an overnight sensation in the 1800s. For the first time a person could travel further in a day than on a horse – and by a lot. Plus, you didn’t have to feed a bike, it didn’t get hot and sweaty and it didn’t ever tire out.
On your wheel you could visit towns far away you’d never been to before, or keep going and see the world, like Thomas Stevens who circled the globe from Oakland, California to Japan on his.
By giving people the freedom to travel whenever and wherever they wanted in comfort and style, the amazing highwheel bicycle gets credit for the whole concept of personal transportation we enjoy today.
I hope you like this video, and thanks for watching!
Mega thanks to my friend and Spokesman Bicycles teammate Matt Wocasek for the drone footage! And to my daughter Jamie for the rest!
To find out more about The Wheelmen bicycle club that celebrates antique bicycles and cycling, please visit:
My favorite book covering antique bicycles and the highwheel, penny farthing craze is King of the Road by Andrew Ritchie
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Lots more bicycle fun on my classic Bicycle Aficionado site and Bicycle Beat blog