The surprising demand for penny farthing bicycles in Diss
The owner of one of the longest-standing businesses in Diss is benefitting from his late grandfather’s equipment as the general public’s cycling buying habits change.
Over the years Madgetts Cycles, in Shelfanger Road, has supplied some of the most high-tech bikes, some costing up to £12,000, for events such as the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.
But Mick Madgett, proprietor of the store who claims it is the town’s longest-serving family business, said there had been a recent resurgence in the interest of the ordinary — or penny farthing, as they are also known. Mr Madgett uses a special spoke key made by his grandfather Albert, who established the business more than 90 years ago, to re-tension the wheels of penny farthings, which were in regular use at the turn of the century when the company began.
The recent surge of interest has seen an increase in the number of restorations the store is taking on.
“I think it is a retro and nostalgia thing,” he said.
“I think people think there is almost so much technology, that they think it is nice to get back to something simple without technology.”
Like his father and grandfather before him, Mr Madgett has a keen interest in cycling history and during his four decades in the shop has worked on countless vintage cycles of many styles.
“I always enjoy finding the right equipment for the person - whether it’s the little kids getting their first balance bike before they can pedal, or someone needing a means of getting to work, or even a person less able perhaps needing a tricycle,” he added.
“The right cycle can mean the difference between riding being a chore or a pleasure and it’s marvellous to see so many people now enjoying a lovely day out cycling.”
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