Hi I'm Dan Bolwell
I have been building highwheels since my mid 20's, with extensive product testing long before becoming a full time professional highwheel bicycle builder. With over 30 years experience in unique and specialised engineering, I starting in rare and unusual diesel injection systems in my teenage years, then went on to become a farmer with a 2,000 acre grain production property and big machinery. Highwheels are my focus and passion taking around 100 to 120 hrs each to build. Supplying high performance, quality, correctly fitted Penny Farthings and exporting to 25 countries with more to come, I build a real riders bike in original style with many still going strong after 30,000 ks and some with over 50,000 ks of trouble free riding. Dan's highwheels feature the signature original style tapered/blade shaped forks, tapered and ovalised backbone, genuine highwheel purpose made hammock saddle and internal 1880's design internal headstem. Fully handmade, formed, rolled, shaped and welded by Dan Bolwell personally in his workshop in Melbourne.
What I do that make my bikes unique and perform so well:
I design and craft virtually every component by hand.
I hand form the tubing from flat plate into the unique shapes. Tapered, blade shape butted tubing on the forks and oval tapered, rolled and butted tubing for the backbone, this is unavailable anywhere else and made in house by hand myself. This is because there is no bracing or connection in the frame, it's completely different forces to a modern bike frame and requires these shapes for integrity, feel and durability. I also use a metal composition that is different to modern bicycles that is more suited to the use, all this combined is what makes my bike stand up to the immense fatigue and stress that the frames are under whilst performing at the absolute best for the design.
I roll the rims myself to any size in either steel or aluminium, along with my own in house made hubs. My tyres are made in a rubber factory to my design and specifications, I have 7 different tyre compounds and a few different profiles so that the tyres feel like tyres should and perform at their best.
I make my own saddles, including all leather work and the mounting hardware in house myself for optimum comfort, they are a genuine Penny Farthing style hammock saddle that integrates with the frame and you will not find a more comfortable bike.
Handlebars are also made in house to fit each rider, the spade style is the iconic design that places your hand in a neutral and comfortable position and offer ultimate control.
Over the last 15 years I have collected vast amounts of data on performance and rider fit so I can tune each bike to the riders use along with the riders dimensions, I can dial in just about every detail on every bike individually with no component spared. The rake and trail is adjusted for optimum stability and control at the speeds the rider will be riding at from an 80yr old who needs great manoeuvrability and ease of use, to a 6ft, 25yr old dedicated, super fit rider, or a 5ft women who wants to spin too 210 rpm and rip past the men in races.
I am the only one in the world who has truly dedicated themselves to the production and design of Penny Farthings, including rider fit and performance, ensuring confidence and feedback so the rider can give it everything they have, I've taken the designs from the 1880's and completely blown them away.
My work simply focuses on providing high class, quality highwheel bicycles and creating opportunities and adventures to use your lifetime investment, so the fun of ownership goes long past the initial purchase. It is very important to me to have the sustainability and resources to deliver what you want, not what your told you want. With solid, honest advice based on real world experience.
Through an ethical, carefully and solidly set up business, I can provide what I consider 100% value. Dealing directly and personally with me as the engineer and designer what you pay for is the raw materials and the time invested in your machine.
Often, Penny Farthings are seen as something for performance shows and going slow in vintage parades. This is incorrect, in actual fact they were simply invented for high speed and long distance - it was before gearing and drive systems, such as the chain, so the big wheel was the only way to gear the bicycle up to go faster. They were never used as a vehicle of industrial or social transport, rather a bicycle for sport and adventure, owned by the wealthy and pure athletes of the day. The first person to circumnavigate the world on bicycle did so on a Penny Farthing. The culture of Penny Farthings today is pretty well the same, we have a whole racing series, where riders slide the bikes around corners and hit top speeds of 55kph, along with big cross country tours of around 1,000ks a week. They were the first bicycle to use light and strong spoke laced wheels and fine rims with good rubber tyres, hollow formed tubing for strength and light weight, these along with a leather hammock saddle made them very comfortable and amazing to ride, just like a normal bike with a few quirks. The Penny Farthing was the first real bicycle, light, fast and fun.