From fringe exploit to trendy sport.
The development of the bicycle since the 1800s has amounted to a science when it comes to picking out your mode of transportation: trekking bicycles, commuter bicycles, freight bicycles, time trial bicycles, BMX bikes, and countless of others. But if we follow this progression, a distinct tangent peeled off during the late 19th century. In the 1880s, the penny-farthing or the high wheel, simply known as “bicycles”, gained popularity in the Western world and had cyclists riding high and nearly directly over the front axle of a relatively large front wheel. However, many owners discovered that they could simply ride the front wheel and handlebars, dispensing with the secondary wheel and the rest of the contraption.
Experts count this modified version of penny-farthing riding as the origins of the contemporary unicycle.