Odd Bikes: Sizing a Penny-Farthing

Odd Bikes: Sizing a Penny-Farthing
4 min read

Have you ever seen one of those bikes with the comically oversized front wheels, with a smaller wheel at the rear? The ones that lacks a chain?

You were probably looking at a very specific odd bike known as a penny-farthing, one of the first machines that was ever properly referred to as a “bicycle.”

There are manufacturers still making them, and many people still ride them. You can, too - but since they lack a chain drive, the crank arms need to be affixed directly to the hub axle, which means you need to do some sizing.

Here’s how to make sure you get one that’s the right size for you.

Wheel Size and Speed
One of the first things to keep in mind is that, since there is no chain drive and the cranks must have an interface directly with the hub axle, the penny-farthing’s top speed is a product of the wheel’s circumference.

That, in turn, is a product of diameter; hence, pennies with bigger wheels are capable of higher top speeds.

It’s natural to want to get the biggest one you can ride, but hold your horses: the largest penny-farthing you can ride will be limited by your height, specifically your inseam length.

Inseam Measurements and Minimum Size
While there (technically) aren’t penny-farthings that are too small for you, one can definitely be too big for you. To determine whether you can safely and reasonably ride a penny-farthing, you’ll need to take your inseam measurements.

Fortunately, you can do this easily, at home. To take your inseam length, you need a book and a tape measure. Stand upright with the book between your legs (as though you were straddling the saddle of a bike) and measure the distance from the top of the book to the floor.

If you wear shoes with thick soles, make certain to take account of this, too.

Once you are armed with this inseam measurement, finding a penny-farthing that will fit you should be a cinch. Most listings disclose minimum inseam lengths, anyway.

For instance, take this Hoppley 29” Penny-Farthing. The product description right on the page lists the minimum inseam length at 26”. This makes it a great starting size for taller children, shorter adults, or just those that want to learn on something small.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have a model like the Hoppley 36” Penny-Farthing. This one requires a minimum inseam measurement of length of 36”. This makes it ideal for taller adults with a bigger inseam measurement; it’s also capable of higher speeds. Unfortunately, if you have an inadequate inseam measurement, you won’t be able to reach the pedals.

Is There a Max Inseam Size?
Strictly speaking, you can only be too short for a penny-farthing, not too tall. You might be a little cramped, but there are no caps on the smallest size you can ride. This is why basically anyone can ride a clown bike. So, while there is a minimum inseam, there is no max.

All in all, it comes down to what you’re tall enough to ride, and what you’re comfortable with riding. Anything else is up to you - the whole point of a penny-farthing is to learn something new and have fun doing it anyway.

Looking for High-Quality Penny-Farthings and Other Odd Bikes?
Looking for a place you can learn more about taking your measurements, about odd bikes like penny-farthings, or even a place you can actually buy one?

Visit Unicycle.com via the previous link. They carry odd bikes, reference material, and even safety gear you’ll want to have while riding. Also, their staff are friendly and ready to help at 678-494-4962.

For more information about 31.8 Seatpost Clamp and 32 Inch Tires Please visit: Unicycle.com

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Jose Warner 2
Joined: 1 year ago
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