Friday, September 6, 2013


     At the WARMfest last weekend, I met a fellow riding a Coker Wheelman pennyfarthing, with the same wheel size as my QU-AX.

     Both have similar rake angles, pneumatic tires and the main wheel is a yard across -- but that's about it for similarities:
Coker at left, QU-AX at right
     They're both nice-looking ordinaries and attract a lot of interest.  While the Coker does have a brake on the main wheel, the rider I met admitted he doesn't use it much.  Meeting him made me wish I'd've ridden mine to the event; there aren't so many of us on pennyfarthings, still less the modern versions.


  1. Uhhhhh....why do you need a brake if the pedals don't freewheel?

    Is it assist in long downhill paths, or something else?

  2. I'm not sure that the Coker *doesn't* have a freewheel hub! Which is kind of scary, since a good solid wheel-braking effort tends to lift the rear wheel on any of these. You'd want to squeeze very gently, and rely on the old-standby of rapidly dismounting for emergency stops. The one I saw was a well-built machine, with quality parts throughout. Per their website, the price at at par with an entry-level 48"-wheel solid-tire classic, which is more likely to be my next step, by and by.

  3. While I've never ridden one of these two-wheelers, I used to ride motorcycles, and I agree....a handful of front brake can really get your attention FAST!

  4. As that "Gol-Darn Wheel" song points out, penny farthing brakes are sort'a chancy. As verse four begins:

    "Well, th grade was mighty slope'n
    From th ranch down t' th creek
    I went a gally-flute'n
    Like a crazy light'n streak
    A whiz'n an' a dart'n
    First this way an' this that
    Th dern contravence wobbl'n
    Like th fly'n of a bat"

    And that was just the start of the trouble. The link's here,


  5. Dr. Jim, with an Ordinary, if you clamp down on the front wheel, the rest of the bicycle -- including you! -- goes up and over, "taking a header." These are the machines that brought the phrase "breakneck speed" to the language, and it was literally the case. Later models had dropped handlebars, so on a long downhill you could put your legs atop the bar and not be trapped if your machine tripped over a rock or rut. Instead, you'd land on you feet, possibly with your bicycle going over you; but you didn't auger into the road, head-first.