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Hen and Chick pentacycle for delivering mail. Trialled in 1882.

A pentacycle ("hen and chickens" ) is a human-powered five-wheeled vehicle.


The original pentacycle was designed and patented by the architect Edward Burstow in 1882.[1][2] It had a large central wheel directly driven by pedals like a penny farthing bicycle, with a "bath-chair type handle", and four smaller wheels for stability.[2] This arrangement led to it being referred to as the "hen and chickens" cycle, as it resembled a mother hen surrounded by her four chicks. It was trialled by rural postmen in Horsham and, although liked, the design was not widely adopted.[1] There is a replica in the British Postal Museum.[3]

Modern-day interpretation[edit]

Modern day pentacycles do not often share the same layout as the original pentacycle, usually using various other wheel configurations.

A 2002 interpretation, specifically designed to use the disused Aérotrain monorail track near Orléans, is more accurately described as a tricycle; although it has five wheels, two are actually used for guidance and are placed on either side of the monorail support.[4][better source needed]

In 2012 Sajjad Moosa, a Pakistani art graduate, spent almost 150,000 (US$1,900) creating a 48 foot (15 m) long pentacycle using a single front wheel for steering, a middle pair of wheels for drive and another pair at the rear.[5]


  1. ^ a b Albery, William (1938). "Transport at Horsham and in Sussex: From 1550 to the Present Day". The Sussex County Magazine. Vol. 12. T.R. Beckett. p. 677. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b Smail, Henfrey (1948). Coaching Times and After: Including Some Old Coaching Celebrities, the Coaching Revival, Etc. Aldridge Bros. p. 189. ASIN B0006ARR1O. OCLC 4146476. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Replica pentacycle". British Postal Museum. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  4. ^ "VWORK". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  5. ^ "48-feet pentacycle of peace". 10 April 2015.

See also[edit]