What is it?
It is a replica Penny Farthing or Hi Wheel bicycle. Technically it is a mini farthing as the front wheel is only 28 inches in diamenter and the rear is only 16 inches. The name penny farthing is derived from the old British coins the penny and the farthing. For more historicle information please visit the wikipedia page.
Where did you get it?
I obtained the bicycle from a company called Rideable Bicycle Replicas.
Is it hard to ride?
No, not really. Getting started is a bit tough becuase the seat is so high. I have to lean the bike at an angle in order to get onto the seat. Once moving the bike is no harder to balance than any other bicycle. The bike is direct drive being that there are no gears and no chain; the crank is directly connected to the front wheel.
This means there is a great deal of low end torque which can sometimes lead to wheel-spin when starting out from a stop. It also means that I have to continuously pedal and can only coast if I take my feet off the pedals. (One might call it an olde time “fixie”). Due to the fact it is front wheel drive, everywhere I turn the handlebars, so too do I have to turn my feet and legs.
Hills are a bit of a challenge due to the fact I have no gears to change to and due to the fact I cannot stand on the pedals for better leverage becuase the bike will tip over. When encountering a hill I have to zig-zag across it in order to decrease the incline.
When going down hills or slowing down in general I simply have to pedal less. There is a rear brake but I have found that it is rather useless and that in an emergency stop it would do me no good.
Riding the hi wheel takes a bit of getting used to but once you get the hang of it it’s not really very hard.
How fast can you go?
I can’t go very fast. The speed is directly proportionate to the speed at which I can cycle my legs. The faster I go, the bouncier the ride gets due to all the up and down motion of my legs. However, the bike is not really meant for speed; I mainly just use it for fun.
Where can it be seen?
Both the bike and myself make frequent visits to Boston. However, a good deal of cycling activity can be found in Melrose, my home town.