oh so that’s what they’re called

I had a post earlier this week about old timey tractors and it got me thinking about other old timey things with wheels.  Like the old timey bicycles, you know the ones with the huge front wheel?

Well apparently they are called “penny-farthings”.  There you have it.  There are a few people in Toronto that ride these around (pfffft!  Hipsters!) and the main question I have is how the heck do you get on and off those things?  From the Wikipedia site:

Mounting requires skill. One foot is placed on a peg above the back wheel. The rider grasps the handlebar, scoots and lifts himself into the saddle

Although easy to ride slowly because of their high center of mass and the inverted pendulum effect, the penny-farthing was prone to accidents. To stop, the rider presses back on the pedals while applying a spoon-shaped brake pressing the tire. The center of mass being high and not far behind the front wheel meant any sudden stop or collision with a pothole or other obstruction could send the rider over the handlebars (“taking a header” or “coming a cropper”). On long downhills, some riders hooked their feet over the handlebars. This made for quick descents but left no chance of stopping.  A new type of handlebar was introduced, called Whatton bars, that looped behind the legs so that riders could still keep their feet on the pedals and also be able to leap feet-first forward off the machine.

That sounds like a lot of things could go wrong.  I think I’ll pass and stick to my old school tricycle.  What?! I am still mastering the two-wheeler…


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