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Exhibitions > 1870


High Wheel Bicycles

The first bicycle made entirely of metal, was manufactured in 1870. It was equipped with hard rubber tires and a very large front wheel to which the pedals were directly attached, allowing the bicycle to reach a previously unattained speed. The diameter of the wheel could be as large as 150 centimeters, and each bicycle was custom-made according s height. This bicycle was known ׳ to the rider as a "High Wheel," "Ordinary," or "Penny-Farthing" due to the association of the wheels with the British penny and farthing coins, one much larger than the other. These names, however, were mostly used retroactively, once the popularity of the model had given way to newer bicycles.

Riding this bicycle was an extremely dangerous feat due to the high seat, which was situated above the large front wheel. Its location above the center of gravity meant that every stone or other unexpected obstacle along the way could overturn the bicycle, with the rider landing on his head. These bicycles were extremely popular, yet their high price - the equivalent of six monthly salaries or of a horse - cast them as luxury items enjoyed mainly by members of the upper classes. 


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