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High Wheeler Bicycles Making A Comeback
"Ordinaries," a high-wheeler bicycle that was popular from 1870 to 1890, are making a comeback, thanks to a couple of Colorado entrepreneurs.
Three years ago, Don McClung and Mike Rust formed the Colorado Cyclery Co. and began manufacturing "Ordinaries" out of their Salida, Colo. shop. The bikes have a large front wheel, either 48 or 51 in. in dia., and a much smaller, 20-in. rear wheel.
"Ordinaries," sometimes called penny-farthings or high-wheelers, take their name from the fact they were an "ordinary" bicycle, compared to safety bikes with two wheels the same size which came out later.
A basic Ordinarie today sells for about $700, or you can buy one in kit form about $500.
"Ordinaries were never cheap," says Rust. "When they were first made in the late 1800s, they sold for $125 to $175 which was equivalent to buying an expensive car.
"Ordinaries generate a tremendous amount of goodwill, " notes McClung, who receives many requests to participate in parades and other events.
Riding an Ordinarie is easier than a unicycle but slightly more difficult than a conventional bicycle, says McClung. "Many people-ask to try out an Ordinarie before making a purchase because at first they appear difficult to ride. Some people have a harder time than others, but in general, if you can ride a regular bicycle you can ride an Ordinarie. To mount and dismount the bike, you use a step just above and on both sides of the rear wheel."
"One new development, compared with the old days, is that women as well as men are riding them," says Rust. "Back then, their clothing made it difficult for women to ride bicyles. Also, many people believed that exercise was not good for women."
For more information, contact FARM SHOW Followup, Don McClung, Colorado Cyclery, 111 E. St., Salida, Col. 81201 (ph 303 539-2453).

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1988 - Volume #12, Issue #2