penny farthing

Photo: Josef Mesicek

Solar-powered pedal electric hybrids aren’t the only unusual human-powered vehicles hitting the streets these days. Carlton Reid, over at The Guardian, reports that the penny farthing is making a comeback.

This is not, however, a simple nostalgia trip involving gentle meandering through the countryside, complete with top hat. In fact, says Reid, our entire image of the penny farthing back in the day is a little too pastoral:

“This Victoriana visual is a cliche. High-wheelers back in the day were not slow, they were the fastest things on the bad roads of the day, not something that endeared them to rural folk, unused to through traffic and suspicious of strangers, speedy or otherwise.”

The penny farthing revivalists are clearly tapping into the thrill seeker tradition. Whether it’s these Lycra-clad racers ...

... or round-the-world traveler and penny farthing maker Joff Summerfield descending into Death Valley (minus brakes, of course, because penny farthings don’t have them) ...

... enthusiasts are risking life and limb to pursue their hobby. This crash, for example, during a race in London resulted in a fractured elbow and a bent wheel for Summerfield:

For more on the crazy, adrenaline-fueled world of penny farthings, and to find out where you can get one of your own, check out Reid's full article over at The Guardian.

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