Rudge penny-farthing

D. Rudge & Co1887

Musée des arts et métiers

Musée des arts et métiers

In 1870, as the French velocipede industry was suffering from the war with Prussia, penny-farthing production grew considerably in England. To increase speed and lightness, manufacturers lightened the cycle’s structure and increased the diameter of the front drive wheel to obtain a higher gear ratio. However the dangers involved in riding the penny-farthing limited its use to sportsmen and acrobats. Hampered by these disadvantages, from 1890 this elegant machine was gradually superseded by a much more efficient competitor, the bicycle. This penny-farthing was made Daniel Rudge & Co., inventor of the ball bearing system he patented in 1878, which equipped the bicycles ridden by the French champion Charles Terront in his first races. Rudge gave the penny-farthing’s wheels the spoke system invented by James Starley – the father of the bicycle – to improve the wheel’s strength.

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  • Title: Rudge penny-farthing
  • Creator: D. Rudge & Co
  • Date: 1887
  • Date Created: 1887
  • Location: United Kingdom
  • Provenance: Musée des arts et métiers
  • Contributor: Author: Sandra Delaunay. English translation: David Wharry
  • Inventory number: Inv. 14066
  • Credits: © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam/photo Pascal Faligot