Sizing Your Penny-Farthing:
Penny-Farthings are sold in a variety of sizes of 2″ graduations, the most common being 50″, 52″, 54″ & 56″. Why? Because a Penny-Farthing doesn’t have an adjustable seat post, so the distance from the saddle to the pedals is largely fixed. So depending upon the model of Penny-Farthing and where the saddle is placed- directly on the spine or on a small fixed seat post above the spine will determine what the maximum wheel size of the PF that you can buy.
For example, on a UDC model Penny-Farthing which has a small seat post affixed to the spine, I can only comfortable ride their 50″ model Penny-Farthing. But for a Richards of England Penny-Farthing with the saddle mounted on the spine directly, I can ride a 52″-54″.
And like willies, size indeed matters. If two cyclists of equal stamina & ability are racing each other and one has a 50″ PF and the other has a 56″ PF, then the 56″ PF rider will have a huge advantage on flat ground. However, going up hills, driving the larger wheel is harder and the 50″ PF rider will have an advantage over the 56″ rider.
When you speak to one of the below manufacturers, they’ll help you choose a correctly sized Penny-Farthing. They’re all honest businessmen and want you to enjoy riding and will take care to ensure you’re riding the correct sized Penny-Farthing.
UK Penny-Farthing Manufacturers:
Disclaimer: I am a customer of both the below manufacturers, however, neither have paid me for or provided any compensation for a review. It’s precisely because I have direct experience of their machines I’m in a position to both discuss and recommend them. There are other manufacturers in England, Sweden & Australia, but I have no experience of these and couldn’t offered a review informed by experience. Not that they are bad, only that I can’t speak about products I’ve never used before.
Richards of England Engineering Limited (“RoE”)
Richards-of-England makes high-end custom replicas of original Penny-Farthings. Even if you could buy an original Penny-Farthing, you have to hope that somebody is selling one that is both in good quality AND is the right size for your height. ie: if your legs can only reach the pedals on a 50″ PF, it does you no good if you can’t find an original being sold in your size. Richards-of-England will produce a penny-Farthing for your desired historical model in the size you require. RoE Penny-Farthings are considered by all of us as Penny-Farthing Porn. These are gorgeous, handcrafted masterpieces and highly sought after. Since every part is handmade- including the saddle- they are also very expensive- but all agree are worth the cost. Great Penny-Farthing to race on a track or for slow social rides, but not a bike to use daily on the UK’s third–world busted-up, pothole ridden roads.
Telephone: 01482 738440
International: +441482 738440
These are modern PF and make no pretense of being a copy of any original. They offer a Penny-Farthing manufactured in TAIWAN (not China!). If you see anything on the ‘net about “UDC” Penny-Farthings, these refer to “Unicycle Dot Com” ones. I cycle a 50″ UDC and they are really, REALLY well made and really sturdy. Since the spine on UDC Penny-Farthings is not monolithic- the rear fork is nested inside the spine and locked in place with a hex key- the rake on these PF’s are adjustable. So you can make them less twitchy and less likely to cause a headover by reducing the height of the rear fork as the weight of the rider is no longer directly over the forks. UDC has been sold-out of their entire inventory of Penny-Farthings due to supply-chain issues related to lockdown, but is expecting inventory in October 2023 FINALLY. And Roger Davies the owner of UDC is himself a very successful, highly regard Penny-Farthing racer who wins on his own UDC Penny-Farthing. So the guy designing & building these things is himself a shit-hot Penny-Farthing racer. The UDC will always be my goto Penny-Farthing as it is really tough. And one can’t help but remark most of those who earn a place on the podium tend to ride UDC Penny-Farthings. Below Roger Davies (1st) and myself (3rd) in the 2022 World Penny-Farthing Hill Climb Championships. 2 of the 3 places were UDC Penny Farthings