A recent view is that technology was less of a factor vs. sociological factors. The main sociological difference between the Penny-farthing and today's bicycle frame is the perspective of safety: the rider wants to feel safe or not.
In the times of Penny-farthing mastering a difficult to ride horse/vehicle was a major feat, and riders wanted to show of their skills. Riding a more difficult vehicle was a wish by riders.
Today's bicycle with the diamond frame mostly offers safety for the driver, by having a good view around the traffic, and a good chance to stop when needed (vs. efficiency, aerodynamics, speed, acceleration, etc., while recumbent and other designs do better in those aspects). Today riders want a bike that offers higher safety, vs. feeling unsafe.
The modern view of history of technology says about technology development that:
- Instead of the "linear model", there are many other models about how technology develops (starting with Thomas Kuhn's book "The structure of scientific revolutions").
- Technology development is considered to be CONSERVATIVE, ie. it has to be compatible with the network of existing surrounding (ex. the power plug of every machine needs to fit what is available in households), and only small iterations go ahead. Too big steps of innovations usually fade away, as they are not compatible with current needs/technologies. They might came back later, in a different form. For example attempts for mimicking birds using their winds for flying were considered a dead-end for a hundred years, while today micro robots use the same principle. (See the chapter Thomas P. Hughes: The evolution of large technological systems).
There's a lot of research done about bicycle development in History of Technology, mainly because researchers who pioneered these theories came from the Netherlands. The paper published by Bijker ("King of the road: the social construction of the safety bicycle.") is a major work that introduced the theory of social construction of technological systems.
You can find a short summary of Bijker's book at the bicycle research project.
A Google search can give you a pdf of the paper. Note that Bijker's book is not considered "new" anymore, but rather "classic", and many new research goes beyond.