World Records for Penny-Farthing Bicycles

Corrections and additional information (maybe even new record claims?) for this list are welcome!
Please just contact us if you can contribute results (in particular from other countries) or if you know the missing names or first names of the record breakers.

The last season where penny farthing races were held were 1892 in the US and 1895 in Germany.
For this list, we considered the best records from the UK, Australia and the US (using record lists up to December 1893) and Germany (using a record list up to 10 September 1894).

Unless noted otherwise, all records have been achieved from a standing start on a racing track.

Pacing was usually permitted. The times have been measured to the fifth of a second.

We do not make a difference between time trials and races and between amateurs and professionals.

Many thanks for their support in compiling this list to Wolfgang Schoppe (cycling archive, Leipzig, Germany), Maxi Kutschera (fahrradbuch.de) and the Road Records Association (UK).



1/4 mile flying start
30.8 sec
Arthur August Zimmerman (USA) 4 July 1891, Hartford, Conn.
1/4 mile standing start
32.6 sec
E. C. Anthony (USA)
2 Sept 1890, Hartford, Conn.
1/4 mi without using hands
43 sec
F. F. Ives (USA)
29 August 1886, Springfield, Mass.
500 m
41.2 sec
Paul Präsent (Germany)
27 May 1894, Bremen
1/2 mi
1:10.6 min
Arthur August Zimmerman (USA) 30 August 1891, Springfield, Mass.
1/2 mi without using hands
1:22.2 min
F. F. Ives (USA)
29 August 1886, Springfield, Mass.
1 km
1:28.0 min
Otto Beyschlag (Germany)
20 July 1894, Vienna
1 mile
2:15.6 min
William W. Windle (USA)
15 Sept 1890, Peoria, Ill.
1 mile without using hands
2:44.4 min
F. F. Ives (USA)
29 August 1886, Springfield, Mass.
2 km
3:06.4 min
Otto Beyschlag (Germany)
30 August 1894, Vienna
2 miles
5:11.0 min
W. A. Rowe (USA)
14 Oct 1886, Springfield, Mass.
5 km
8:04.0 min
Otto Beyschlag (Germany) 7 July 1892, Frankfurt/Main
5 miles
13:22.2 min
G. Whittaker (USA)
1888, Long Eaton
10 km
16:29.4 min
Otto Beyschlag (Germany) 30 August 1894, Vienna
10 miles
27:05.4 min
G. Whittaker (USA)
1888, Long Eaton
20 km
35:37.0 min
Hans Ludolphi (Germany)
25 July 1894, Breslau (now Wrocław)
20 miles
51:25.4 min
W. A. Rowe (USA) 1886, Springfield, Mass.
50 km
1:37:03.6 hr
Adolf Elsner (Germany)
11 September 1893, Breslau (now Wrocław)
50 miles track
2:28:10.2 hr
Frank W. Shorland (UK)
21/22 July 1892, London
50 miles road
2:45:20 hr
R. J. Illsley (UK)
13 June 1891, Grand North Road
100 km
3:11:00 hr
Paul Leinert (Germany)
July 1896
100 miles track
5:05:03.4 hr
Frank W. Shorland (UK)
21/22 July 1892, London
100 miles road
6:19:06 hr
R. C. Nesbitt (UK) and J. F. Walsh (UK)
15 August 1891, Grand North Road
200 miles
10:49:32.4 hr
Frank W. Shorland (UK) 21/22 July 1892, London
300 miles
17:10:18 hr
Frank W. Shorland (UK) 21/22 July 1892, London
1 hour track
38.17 km = 23 mi 1260 yd
Frederick J. Osmond (UK)
15 July 1891, Herne Hill
2 hours track
64.70 km = 40 mi 360 yd
Wilbur F. Knapp (UK)
16 Aug 1888
3 hours track
97.39 km = 60 mi 910 yd
Frank W. Shorland (UK) 21/22 July 1892, London
6 hours track
183.56 km = 114 mi 100 yd
Frank W. Shorland (UK) 21/22 July 1892, London
12 hours track
354.18 km = 220 mi 140 yd
Frank W. Shorland (UK) 21/22 July 1892, London
12 hours road
282.4 km = 175.5 mi J. F. Walsh (UK) 1891
24 hours track
666.135 km = 413 mi 1615 yd
Frank W. Shorland (UK) 21/22 July 1892, London
24 hours road
546 km = 339 mi
Manfred Cizek (Austria)
4 / 5 August 2002, Schötz, Switzerland

Notes: Frank W. Shorland rode a geared high-wheeler. with a sun-and-planet gear. It should be noted that his results have been achieved in a race (i.e. not in a time trial).
The 19th century record for 24 hours on road were 502 km [312 mi] by J. F. Walsh (UK) (22 August 1891, Grand North Road).
The best record for 24 hours on road on solid tyres were 416.8 km [259 miles]  by George P. Mills (UK) in 1885.

OTHER RECORDS

Trans-US: Steve Stevens (USA), 29 days 9:03 hours, 26 May to 23 June 2000, using a 1887 Rudge penny-farthing

Land's End - John O'Groats: George P. Mills, 5 days 1:45 hours, on 4-9 July 1886. He only slept for six hours during the journey.

Greatest distance without dismounting: 234 mi [376.5 km] by W. J. Morgan (USA) on 20 Dec 1886 in Minneapolis, Minn., USA


Back to the World Record Homepage