Wednesday, January 18, 2017

getting high (wheeled)

I like bikes. So do you.

I like most kinds of bikes. I like road bikes. I like mountain bikes. I like cargo bikes. I even like some bikes with electric pedal assist. And I assume that you like all kinds of bikes; your list is probably not the same as mine, but so what. You like bikes.

I'm even interested in the history of bicycling.  From the draisine to the safety bike. So I was very interested when I found that there was a company within driving distance of my house that manufactured penny farthing bicycles. It's called Rideable Bicycle Replicas; the web site is fascinating, as it shows many variants on the penny farthing, including some high wheel trikes.

Since I had a day off during the week, I dropped in on Greg Barron at Rideable Bicycle Replicas (RBR). I was lucky on two counts: he was there (he isn't always), and he had a few moments to spare (he's incredibly busy, from what I can tell.)
Greg Barron and his cool bikes.
Greg had two bikes he could show me. One was a Columbia penny farthing that he was doing a restoration job on. I don't know much about the Columbia brand, but I believe their penny farthing model was manufactured in the late nineteenth century.
Apologies for not getting the full bike in this photo. I was giddy with the absolute coolness of this machine.

The Columbia actually had a brake lever. Greg told me (and I'm paraphrasing here) "The brakes on penny farthing bikes don't work that well, and the brake lever rattles constantly".
The Columbia handlebar. The brake lever is on the left in this photo.

The other bike was a replica that he had built. It was, for lack of a better word, fancy.  No brake, but hey, it's a fixed gear bike, what do you expect? This is one of the top-end bikes he makes.
This is the replica in front of the restored Columbia.

It's outfitted with both a saddle and a tool bag made by RBR.

Optionally, you can also get a front headlight in the form of a period-correct oil lamp.

An additional benefit for the "Steel Is Real" crowd: the frame of the RBR penny farthing is ALL-STEEL! Exciting times we live in, eh?

I have to be honest; I don't think I'd ever want a penny farthing. But Greg Barron gives instruction on how to ride them (by appointment only.) And I'm already planning to make time to take advantage of that instruction.

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