19th century innovation: The Pony Star

Miscellaneous 6 61

Pony Star lever drive classic bike from the 1880sA recent Road Bike Rider newsletter featured a link to String Bike, “a Hungarian-made bike that uses cabling (string) instead of a chain as its propulsion mechanism.” You can read more about the concept, and see an animated video on the website.

Those of you who are familiar with Archibald Sharp’s book, Bicycles and Tricycles, know that alternative transmissions have been around as long as the bicycle itself. I tweeted a link to the String Bike when I first saw it, and Binch Shin (@dynafeel on Twitter) was quick to reply with this old “Pony Star” patent by William S. Kelley. The reverse penny-farthing design Pony Star was introduced in 1880 to solve the header problem that was common with old high wheelers. Because it could not use direct drive due to the reversed rider position, the bike relied on levers and leather straps to drive the rear wheel. As Old Spokes Home points out, “both levers could be depressed simultaneously for a burst of speed.”

Check out more pictures of an 1889 42” Pony Star at Old Spokes Home. While you are there, browse around the gallery to see many other interesting bikes in their collection, from the mid 19th century velocipedes to the mid 80s Fat Chance. Great stuff! Now I want to get up to Vermont to check this place out.

Photo credits: oldspokeshome.com

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6 Comments

    • James T January 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm -  Reply

      Great stuff! Thanks again.

  1. Ross Nicholson January 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm -  Reply

    There is nothing new under the sun. Accountants are proud of their double-entry accounting system, but what is “junk” DNA? 20th century physicists thought that their linear accelerator had no predecessor, only to find 200,000 duplicates in the membranes of each human cell.

  2. Johann Rissik January 27, 2011 at 1:17 am -  Reply

    Top Ten!!
    I disappeared into that museum and only surfaced some hours later. After 50 years of denial, I have now found the reason to visit North America ;)

  3. Johann Rissik January 27, 2011 at 1:21 am -  Reply

    @Binch Shin: Great video, the sound track tells it’s own story!

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