Geared 'Facile' bicycle, 1888.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This bicycle represented an advance on earlier designs. Thanks to a smaller difference in the size of its wheels, the Facile was safer to use than the traditional ordinary, or penny-farthing. Its sun-and-planet gearing, converted the rider's pedal power into a rotation of the wheels. It was also made safer and more stable to ride by lowering the rider's centre of gravity by moving the seat back behind the front wheel and putting the pedals on levers. The rider was therefore closer to the ground than on a traditional ordinary, but still able to reach the pedals driving the large front wheel.