1890’s The Ordinary High-Wheeler or Penny-Farthing

About this bicycle

The Ordinary bicycles were the first produced using all metal frames and wheels. It was found that switching to rubber tires with tubes and long spokes on the front wheel improved riding comfort. When cycle makers realized the larger the wheel, the farther the rider could travel with each rotation of the pedals, they made the front wheels increasingly larger. Bikes were customized to match the leg length of the rider. The most common size was about 50” in diameter. The High Wheeler could handle poor roads and cobblestone streets causing an expanded interest in bicycle riding. The view from the top of a High Wheeler is comparable to the height of someone on horseback. A sidesaddle version was made for women, as it would have been “improper for a woman to straddle the frame.” The disadvantage of the High Wheeler was the tall enter of gravity and forward weight bias. If a rider’s front when stopped suddenly it was common for them to go over the handlebars, thus the term “Taking a Header” was born. The High Wheelers were popular until the early 1890s.