Bored of your 700c wheels? Tired of arguing about the merits of 26” or 650B tires? Then join us as […]
Bored of your 700c wheels? Tired of arguing about the merits of 26” or 650B tires? Then join us as we take a look at some of the more extreme wheel sizes.
The Penny-Farthing, 53”
It doesn’t get much more extreme than the original British bicycle. Named after two coins, the farthing and the much larger penny, the iconic vehicle offers the rider an elevated view of the world – not to mention the thrill gained from any number of mishaps that could befall a rider.
The taller the wheel the harder you could fall, so it was no surprise that with the introduction of the safety bicycle, the penny-farthing quickly fell out of favour. Unsurprisingly, in the Great British spirit of eccentricity, racing penny-farthings has been revived and the London Nocturne draws competitors from all over the world.
Moulton Bicycles, 17”
Probably the most important bicycle manufacturer you’ve never heard of, Moulton, introduced standards in their various bike models that wouldn’t become commonplace until decades later. Car-suspension designer, Alex Moulton, understood two things very well – comfort and rotational mass.
Smaller wheels mean lighter wheels, and while rotational mass doesn’t make much of a difference at a constant speed, if you want to set off quickly and brake quickly then lighter wheels are helpful. The result was a nippy urban bike that still draws many devoted fans today.
One manufacturer that took note was Brompton and, less than twenty years later, the iconic folding bike with similarly small wheels eventually eclipsed the Moulton. However, it would be another few decades before the world of cycling adopted Moulton’s other great innovation – front and rear suspension.
Like Brompton, Strida were quick to realise the potential of small wheels when it came to designing a folding bicycle. The elegantly simple A-frame of the Strida accentuates the miniscule wheels that characterise this bike’s design and, much like the Moulton, there’s a very devoted Strida fanclub – unsurprisingly in urban regions where space is a premium.
Monowheels and dicycles, 70”+
Monocycles and dicycles never really took off as production vehicles due to the inherent danger of the cyclist rolling 360 degrees in their seated position. Not good for road safety. However, as novelty vehicles on closed roads or race tracks, they look like great fun.
The dicycle is just as strange a vehicle – unlike a bicycle, the wheels are side by side and allow for much larger wheel sizes. Look at this Mutant Big Wheel – if they could just stop the seats flipping, it could improve the tandem experience by making conversation on long tours a lot easier.