Penny-farthings: an eye-opening experience

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Unforgettable Big Wheel - $975 (Hillview)
View attachment 89964
54 inch Unforgettable Big Wheel bicycle. You can see and buy this bike at the South Louisville Antique and Toy mall. Calls only will be accepted. NO EMAILS

Here's one for sale on Louisville CL. I assume that "Unforgettable" is some sort of company that made replicas? This one appears to have some sort of brake.
Bwahahaha!!! That thing is still on CL?! I saw it in like Janurary.
Reviving this thread to throw out an update: this race is being run again tomorrow, Saturday July 15th, 2023. If you’re within an hour or two of Frederick, MD and you like old bicycles and bike history it’s definitely worth coming by to check it out.
Update- I finally parted with mine after I fell off of it...twice in the same day! I miss it occasionally but I've decided to stick with bicycles less likely to hurt me!
Update- I finally parted with mine after I fell off of it...twice in the same day! I miss it occasionally but I've decided to stick with bicycles less likely to hurt me!
yep. that's why I haven't been back on one. I've decided its safer for me to be a spectator :bigsmile:
Below is a photo of me winning the Moline Criterium in 1978. There were about 8 more that we left in our dust. I sold the bike a few years later as it was just too tall for me. You can see I'm really reaching for the pedals. Mine was 48" wheel. They made them in many wheel sizes. Taller riders could be on a bigger wheel which meant they could go faster. Mine was pretty easy to ride, even at very slow speeds. I could do "track stands" all day long. I got crashed 3 times by children riding bikes. They would see me and forget what they were doing and ride straight in to me. I'd see that look on their faces and slow down as quick as I could so the impacts were minimal but it usually meant I'd go over sideways.

Antique versions had thick wall rubber hoses with a wire inside for tires. No air pressure, no glue, no "clincher" walls on the rim The rim was somewhat concave. Basically sheet metal curved a bit. There was a special installation tool that would pull on both ends of the wire while pushing both ends of the tire out of the way so the ends of the wire could be wrapped around each other and soldered. If you don't get the wire tight enough, centrifugal force can lift the tire off the rim at high speeds like going down hill. At high speeds the pedals and crank cause the bike to wobble which will help throw the tire off.

The original Ordinarys (aka Highwheelers or Penny-Farthings) were built when the invention of wire spokes made it possible for larger and lighter weight wheels than the previous heavy wood spoke & rim wheels with iron tires (wagon wheels). The wheels got so big because the bigger the wheel, the faster you could go. The ordinary died out when the invention of the chain, with a sprocket & cog, lead to the "safety" bikes that got that name from having 2 normal size wheels which were far less likely to result in "headers" on the dirt roads of the day. Women could ride safety bikes which helped drive the woman's suffrage movement. The next big invention was inflatable tires (Dunlop), then brakes that actually worked, then shift-able gears, then quality materials.

"The Wheelmen" is an organization dedicated to keeping ordinarys and the clothing styles going.