High wheelers – also known as penny-farthings – featuring one large and one tiny wheel, were the standard bike from the 1860s to the 1880s. Though invented to minimise the bumps of the rutted roads, they were difficult to ride and very dangerous. Nevertheless, a young American, Thomas Stevens, after buying a black-enamelled Columbia 50-inch in 1884, decided to test its limits. Setting off from San Francisco, and packing his handlebar bag with only socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as a tent, and a small gun, he was the first to cycle around the world. He returned by steamer to San Francisco in January 1887.