Bicycles of many shapes and sizes have led up to the bicycle was know today. The ‘penny-farthing’ bicycle was first seen on the roads of England in 1871. it was invented by James Starley, who later became known as the ‘father of the cycle industry’. It had a large front wheel which varied between 100-150 cm in diameter, and a smaller rear wheel of 35-45 cm in diameter. One revolution of the pedals caused one revolution of the wheel – so the larger the wheel the greater the distance covered with each push. These large driving wheels were hard to turn, and long-legged men soon found they were able to cycle faster than short-legged men!
Lightness was combined with the solid steel frames were replaced by tubular steel frames. ‘Penny-farthings’ were very unstable and uncomfortable to ride, but they were very popular and continued in use for some years after the first chain-driven ‘safety’ bicycle appeared.
The first one-hour cycle record was set up by F.L. Dodds on 25 March 1876 in the grounds of Cambridge University. Riding a solid-tyred ‘penny-farthing’ he covered a distance of 25 km.