High-Wheel Racing

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Steve McDonald, Feb 26, 2003.

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  1. I just saw a clip on TV of a high-wheel race in Tasmania. These bikes, dating back to 1880, have a
    front wheel of about 50-inches, a small rear wheel and no gears. They said they could go 40 mph.
    Maybe that was a NASA-type misconversion and it is really 40 kph?? Anyway, those racers were really
    hauling. They didn't say if they were using the original solid rubber tires or pneumatic ones. Has
    anyone used one of these or know of any racing of them in other places? When I was 15, I got to ride
    one, that had been my Grandfather's. It had solid rubber and took only a few minutes to learn how to
    mount. However, any bumps or sudden stops usually sent you flying ass over teakettle, as they had
    little to keep you from pitching forward. When they got smart enough to put the little wheel in
    front, they called them "safety bicycles". Like skateboards and then rollerblades, I'll bet at the
    peak of their popularity, they greatly increased the business of orthopedists.

    Steve McDonald
     
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  2. Skip

    Skip Guest

    > any bumps or sudden stops usually sent you flying ass over teakettle, as
    they had little to keep you from pitching forward.

    Do you remember the expression "taking a header" referring to flying over the handlebars? Want to
    guess where it came from :)

    - Skip

    "Steve McDonald" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    (stuff)
     
  3. Jim Edgar

    Jim Edgar Guest

    Steve McDonald at [email protected] wrote on 2/26/03 4:04 AM:
    > I just saw a clip on TV of a high-wheel race in Tasmania. These bikes, dating back to 1880, have a
    > front wheel of about 50-inches, a small rear wheel and no gears. They said they could go 40 mph.
    > Maybe that was a NASA-type misconversion and it is really 40 kph??

    Front wheel size was limited by the riders' inseam. 50" would be about a 34" inseam, if you were
    using ~180 mm cranks and had yer buttocks about 2" above the wheel.

    This is the root of "gear-inches" used for describing ratios on modern bikes. You can derive speeds
    from gearing, based on your cadence.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_g.html#gearinch

    Most were direct-drive, though there some "multiplier" versions.

    > When they got smart enough to put the little wheel in front, they called them "safety bicycles".

    IIRC - the "safety bicycles" referred to the development of what would look similar to a modern
    bicycle. Wheels of equal size with a chain or shaft drive.

    > Like skateboards and then rollerblades, I'll bet at the peak of their popularity, they greatly
    > increased the business of orthopedists.

    More likely undertakers. Rotating forward on a large wheel at race speed while holding a handlebar
    is a great recipe for a snapped neck.
     
  4. > I just saw a clip on TV of a high-wheel race in Tasmania. These bikes, dating back to 1880,
    > have a front wheel of about 50-inches, a small rear wheel and no gears.

    From your description, sound like penny farthings. See
    http://www.hlalaphansi.net/saint-ives/whatToDo/fun/Carnival/Carnival99/Car nival.html and scroll
    down page.

    Cheers, helen s

    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Flush out that intestinal parasite and/or the waste product before sending a reply!

    Any speeliong mistake$ aR the resiult of my cats sitting on the keyboaRRRDdd
    ~~~~~~~~~~
     
  5. Mark Lee

    Mark Lee Guest

    "Steve McDonald" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > I just saw a clip on TV of a high-wheel race in Tasmania. These bikes, dating back to 1880,
    > have a front wheel of about 50-inches, a small rear wheel and no gears. They said they could
    > go 40 mph. Maybe that was a NASA-type misconversion and it is really 40 kph?? Anyway, those
    > racers were really hauling. They didn't say if they were using the original solid rubber
    > tires or pneumatic ones. Has anyone used one of these or know of any racing of them in other
    > places? When I was 15, I got to ride one, that had been my Grandfather's. It had solid rubber
    > and took only a few minutes to learn how to mount. However, any bumps or sudden stops usually
    > sent you flying ass over teakettle, as they had little to keep you from pitching forward.
    > When they got smart enough to put the little wheel in front, they called them "safety
    > bicycles". Like skateboards and then rollerblades, I'll bet at the peak of their popularity,
    > they greatly increased the business of orthopedists.
    >
    I have a great AV by Sydney photographer Rob Walls on the racing at Evandale and I know a guy who
    has raced there and builds pennyfarthings. If you want the AV, just email me. It's 2.7mB and is a
    self-running p2e file. Mark Lee
     
  6. On Wed, 26 Feb 2003 07:04:35 -0500, Steve McDonald wrote:

    > I just saw a clip on TV of a high-wheel race in Tasmania. These bikes, dating back to 1880,
    > have a front wheel of about 50-inches, a small rear wheel and no gears. They said they could
    > go 40 mph. Maybe that was a NASA-type misconversion and it is really 40 kph??

    I saw it, too, and also did not believe the 40mph claim. Even 40kph is moving on something like
    that, with a 50" gear or so. There was one guy on the clip who went by with his feet off the pedals;
    maybe that way you could go faster, but man that would be foolhardy.

    > Anyway, those racers were really hauling. They didn't say if they were using the original solid
    > rubber tires or pneumatic ones.

    They'd almost have to be. Where would you get a tire that big? They would also have to be tubulars,
    if they were pneumatic.

    Mark Twain has a great piece about trying to learn how to ride one of these.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a _`\(,_ | conclusion. --
    George Bernard Shaw (_)/ (_) |
     
  7. On Wed, 26 Feb 2003 11:40:59 -0500, Jim Edgar wrote:

    > Front wheel size was limited by the riders' inseam. 50" would be about a 34" inseam, if you were
    > using ~180 mm cranks and had yer buttocks about 2" above the wheel.

    Most of the cranks were a lot shorter than that. Closer to 100mm than 180mm -- but I am just going
    on appearance; never measured one.

    But your computation is still pretty close. I don't think many of them got over 60 gear-inches,
    which is pretty low.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | Become MicroSoft-free forever. Ask me how. _`\(,_ | (_)/ (_) |
     
  8. rwalls

    rwalls New Member

    Joined:
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    >I have a great AV by Sydney photographer Rob Walls on the >racing at Evandale and I know a guy who
    >has raced there and builds pennyfarthings. If you want the AV, >just email me. It's 2.7mB and is a
    >self-running p2e file. Mark Lee [/B][/QUOTE]

    Glad to see my A/v is so appreciated and still doing the rounds, Mark. BY the way, I used to be a Sydney photographer...for the past ten years or so, I've based myself in Hobart.

    Cheers,

    Rob Walls
     
  9. Server

    Server Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, usenet- [email protected] says...
    > >I have a great AV by Sydney photographer Rob Walls on the >racing at Evandale and I know a guy
    > >who has raced there and builds pennyfarthings. If you want the AV, >just email me. It's 2.7mB and
    > >is a self-running p2e file. Mark Lee
    >
    > Glad to see my A/v is so appreciated and still doing the rounds, Mark. BY the way, I used to be a
    > Sydney photographer...for the past ten years or so, I've based myself in Hobart.
    >
    > Cheers,
    >
    > Rob Walls
    >
    Hi Rob, by coincidence, I just watched that slideshow again last night. Fantastic! A guy from the US
    asked me to email it to him last weekend! I love the similarity between the calves on the statue and
    the cyclist standing nearby - also the meeting of "McMillan Boneshaker?" and electric
    scooter-wheelchair. Mark Lee
     
  10. rwalls

    rwalls New Member

    Joined:
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    Hi Mark...I don't check this forum often, but came across your note last night. Glad to see it's still circulating and that cyclists are still getting enjoyment from it.

    Best regards,

    Rob


    Hi Rob, by coincidence, I just watched that slideshow again last night. Fantastic! A guy from the US
    asked me to email it to him last weekend! I love the similarity between the calves on the statue and
    the cyclist standing nearby - also the meeting of "McMillan Boneshaker?" and electric
    scooter-wheelchair. Mark Lee [/B][/QUOTE]
     
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