Wood Highwheel Bike
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I was experimenting with minimalism. I wanted to build a one wheeled bicycle. (My normal definition of a bicycle is a two wheeled human powered vehicle where the rider does not touch the ground.) I wanted to test it to see if the back wheel was really needed or if letting the stick drag was sufficient to track straight and provide stability. I ended up with a wood high wheel (Penny Farthing) bike.


The goal of this bike was to test whether a bike really required two wheels.
It worked, but it slides off to the side and vibrates and has lots of friction.
Adding the small wheel made it roll easy, straight and quiet. So tests have shown, Two-Wheeled bikes are better.

First version of the bike with 8 foot 2x4 and a 12" back wheel


Wood Highwheel Bike

Frame Materials: Wood 2x4 (6’ long) and a section of wood 4x4 about 18’ long
Special Components: 28” unicycle, wheel and truck from an inline skate.

How Does it ride?:
It has direct drive with no coasting or brakes. It is stable and slow handling. It balances easily and like other high CG bikes it has a very slow balance requirement. I cannot lean it at the low speeds I ride it. It likes to go straight and does not turn sharply. Without the back wheel, it has a rough stick on road vibration, a lot of drag and it fishtails as the stick slides sideways down the camber of the road toward the gutter. I like it a lot better with the back wheel installed. (less drag, quieter, straight tracking) I start from the curb for height to reach a leg over the saddle to the far peddle in the power position. N order to stop, I slow down and let the bike drop to the side to dismount.

What Changed before the photos?:
I first built it with an 8’ 2x4 and no back wheel. The head angle was less vertical and I could not ride it w/o the back wheel. I added the 12” back wheel and it was ride able. Later I changed the head angle to vertical and shortened the back bone.

What may change later on this bike?:
Could cut the stick so it no longer drags.

What would I do differently on another attempt?:
I would try to build the headset lower (not bothering to keep the unicycle reversible back to a unicycle). The lower headset would allow lower seat height and let shorter legged riders ride it.

What lessons were learned?:
It worked fine w/2 wheels. It was a drag w/ one wheel.J A back wheel helps a bike track just like rudders and centerboards help sailboats track. The 2” solid back wheel transmits lots of road vibration.

What are the keeper developments?:
Unicycle to high wheeler conversions are doable, but needs attention to steerer tube strength.


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