Penny-farthings foolish. Wise minds knew it.

12 Jun

I watched a CCTV-9 piece about a gentleman who has a collection of nearly 200, mostly Chinese, bicycles, collected over his lifetime. It was a delightful program.

At least one of the bicycles was rather like a penny-farthing. The big front wheel, and the little back wheel, of a penny-farthing bicycle seems to be faithful to mathematical theory. One revolution of your feet translates to the maximum distance covered on the road.

But if the designer had had any common sense, rather than relying on naked maths, he would have seen the inefficiency coming a mile off. Damn the theory. What about the obviously pending, clearly predictable practice?

For a start, you have a problem getting up high on it and then getting some momentum going. OK, as you get it going, on the flat, provided there is no head wind, and given no people or other traffic in the way, you have an up side.

But, for a finish, as you see yourself in a shop window and realise how potty you look, and fall off, that is a painful down side.

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One Response to “Penny-farthings foolish. Wise minds knew it.”

  1. Vincent June 13, 2010 at 4:01 am #

    I’ve gotten high on a bicycle a few times!

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