The 'Windsor' ordinary bicycle, c 1878.

The 'Windsor' ordinary bicycle, c 1878.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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The ordinary bicycle, or penny-farthing, was popular from the early 1870s to the late 1880s but was unstable and difficult to mount and dismount. The front wheels became increasingly large as makers realised that the larger the wheel, the further the cycle could travel with one rotation of the pedals. The lower and more stable safety bicycle of 1885 with two similarly sized wheels, which superseded the ordinary, was much the same in design as modern bicycles. This example of an ordinary made by W Willis of Eton in Buckinghamshire has a tubular frame with solid rubber tyres, and is complete with saddle and bell.
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