Lady and gentleman riding 'ordinary' bicycles with Starley wheels, 1874.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A man and a woman riding bicycles; the woman is riding side-saddle, in keeping with the convention of the time. Although the 'ordinary' bicycle (commonly known as the 'penny-farthing') was popular from the early 1870s to the late 1880s, it was unstable and difficult to mount and dismount. James Kemp Starley (1854-1901) was the English cycle engineer responsible for bringing together key features of the modern bicycle, including wheels of equal size and gears. From the 1880s his 'safety' bicycle began to supersede the ordinary bicycle.