- Single Speed
may call a bicycle like this one a "highwheel" or a "highwheeler"
or a "penny-farthing" or an "ordinary".
not sure if you can say it's exactly a "fixed-gear", since it doesn't
have any cogs or gears or teeth of any kind. But we can be sure,
just as with any fixed-gear bicycle, when the wheels roll, the pedals
will move. That front wheel carries some inertia!
bicycle is a reproduction, made by "Rideable Replicas", in southern
bicycle fits in several categories at Cyclofiend! It's certainly
a Modern Classic. Since the original designs were made for dirt
roads, and this one has traveled on dirt roads many times, you might
even call it Cyclocross. But I think Single Speed seems the best
is a very basic model from the manufacturer. The maker calls this
model a "Boneshaker". Technically, a proper "boneshaker" is an even
older design, from even farther back in time. Technically, this
is not really a "boneshaker".
is not exactly new anymore. I believe mine was made in the year
2000. It's amazing how quickly such details can blur with a little
time. I think it was made in the year 2000.
one only has a 48-inch front wheel. Way back in the 1880s , a 48-inch
front wheel was not considered so very large. My legs are long enough
to allow an even larger front wheel, if the design were a little
different. I'm glad this one is designed the way it is!
you take a very close look at photos of real racing bicycles from
the 1880s, you'll see the front forks are almost exactly straight
up and down. You'll also see the saddles were placed as far forward
as possible. Finally, you'll notice almost no space between the
tire and the backbone of the frame. All of these features, plus
a well designed saddle, made sure that the rider could have the
absolutely largest front wheel possible! The larger the front wheel,
the higher the top speed! It was all about SPEED!
if you slide that rider's saddle, and therefore the rider's weight,
further back . . . Well then, the rider is much less likely to get
thrown forward over the handlebar!
reproduction here is much less likely to toss me all alone into
forward flight! I'd rather not go flying solo! The
steering angle is more laid back. The backbone of the frame doesn't
exactly follow the curve of the wheel. The saddle is much farther
back on the backbone of the frame. This all means I can only ride
a 48-inch wheel. But that's o.k. The view is still pretty spectacular!
you can see, I also have the pedals way out there, in the farthest
holes. This gives a crank length of perhaps just a hair more than
180mm. I'd like to call these 181mm cranks.
need to mention the saddle. The machine came with a fascinating
saddle that was hand-made of real leather in India. If you look
closely, perhaps you can see the stub of a little seatpost, on the
backbone of the frame. This modern feature allows a small amount
of adjustment, and also allows modern choices in seats! I bought
a brand new Brooks B.66 Saddle. As the folks at Brooks would say,
this is made of Genuine Brooks Leather. I don't know just how old
is the design of the B.66 from Brooks. But I know it looks entirely
appropriate on this highwheel! The Brooks Saddle allows me to get
down just a wee bit lower and closer to the backbone of the frame.
It's the Brooks Saddle that lets me use the full 180mm setting on
the cranks. It also provides a very nice spring-y ride!
gotten to know the parts of this machine. Honestly, I have to report
there were problems with the original front fork. The manufacturer
cheerfully replaced it. So, I assembled it that first time, very
soon after it arrived. I had it apart twice, to replace front wheel
bearings (part of the problem with the original fork). Then I had
it apart to replace the front fork. It helps to have a "cotter-pin-press"!
It's a shame Park Tool stopped making their fine version. I'm glad
to have one from a few years back (thanks Sarah!). Each time I put
the cranks back on, I used fresh new cotters. By the way, the front
wheel bearings are modern sealed precision bearings. They should
last long, long decades of time. When I had it apart to replace
the front fork, I may have been a bit too timid in reassembly. The
left crank worked itself loose. The machine and I were only about
3 miles from home. We limped back. I took the left crank off, wiped
everything clean, re-greased everything, grabbed a new cotter, and
put it all back together. That's when I noticed the broken spoke!
may have broken that spoke, and started the cotter loosening itself,
in some small spill. Who knows? I ordered a half dozen spare spokes
from the manufacturer. I told myself I was silly for not ordering
spare spokes much sooner! When the spokes arrived, I decided to
make it more interesting. I picked out a replacement and polished
it by hand, so it'd be just a tiny bit different, and maybe I could
find it in the future. Replacing the spoke was very easy, no trouble
- stainless steel spokes , 60 of them , straight gauge , 3mm x 555mm
(or maybe 556mm) , just exactly 21 and 7/8 inches , laced cross
After replacing the spoke, I was surprised to feel how loose all
of the spokes had become. When I first assembled it, I'd checked
the spokes after the very first couple of original test rides. But
with some number of miles, I guess I'd finally "broken-in" that
big wheel! I trued and tightened and trued the wheel again. After
that I checked and re-checked, before and after the next several
rides. It was snug and solid, tight and true!
yes, with the spokes all freshly tightened, I thought I could just
barely feel the machine was a tiny bit livelier. Actually, I was
surprised the difference was almost unnoticeable!
past "Summer Of Ought Seven" was the best for this us, this bicycle
and me. We went out three or four times a week, most every week.
The folks out on those gravel and dirt roads, have gotten to know
us. The county does a wonderful job of grading those gravel and
dirt roads. The best rides were about 36 hours after a rain, when
things were smooth and firm, but not dusty. A dusty-dry surface
can be just as slippery as a muddy one! Traction, especially traction
while climbing up-hill, is always a concern. Five to eight miles
out, and the same back, makes a nice ride. Three or four times I've
gone on two rides in the same day. Once, I took her on a ride of
perhaps 25 miles. That's the longest so far. We'll be doing more
of those this coming summer!
did I mention the view from up there is spectacular ??? I'm addicted
to it !!!
and hill-descending, is a big issue. Any riding on a bicycle with
such limited braking ability requires planning ahead. Hills require
the most planning. I'm not shy about getting off and walking down
a truly steep hill. I've only had to do that a couple of times.
Normally, on the up-hills, I'll just plan to avoid the worst hills,
and climb whatever comes my way. I'm not the strongest rider around,
but the 48-inch wheel, with the 180mm cranks, allows me to huff
and puff up most of the steep but fairly short hills around here.
There have only been a couple of times, while climbing a truly steep
bluff, when I've simply come to a complete halt, and fallen over!
No worries. Falling over at a slow walking pace is harmless.
the days when the "gears" on every bicycle were measured in "gear-inches"
? Remember when 27-inch wheels and tires, with a 52 x 14 combination
of teeth, would give you a "100-inch-gear" ?
suppose these days it's a 700 x 23mm tire, with a 53 x 13 combination
of teeth, yields a "107-inch-gear". This highwheeled bicycle of
mine, gives a true 48 inches, from the outside edge of the tire,
to the outside edge of the tire, no matter what!
with the talk of gears, I'll pause, and say, thank you Sheldon.
can't ride fixed without thinking of Sheldon.