Amputee Treatment Center Forum

RECREATION & ENTERTAINMENT => Recreation and Entertainment => Topic started by: JClark on April 16, 2008, 07:14:49 AM

Title: Handcycles
Post by: JClark on April 16, 2008, 07:14:49 AM
Every so often, this comes up here as a topic of discussion.  Well, I finally have some real information to report.

Every so often, I get all excited about the idea, but the idea doesn't go far because it's hard to put down that much money without a test drive.  Well, one of the companies I talked to ( said they were having a test-drive kind of weekend in cooperation with Northeast Passage ( in New Hampshire.

This Northeast Passage program is in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire and is about sports events for the disabled.  On this day, they had adaptive bikes.  Both hand and foot pedal kinds of bikes.  They didn't let us take them out on the road, but we had use of an indoor track where we could take them out for a spin.  If you're anywhere near NH you should check this program out.  They do an event like this several times a year, check out their calendar.

They also rent bikes, and schedule group outdoor bike rides.  I'm planning on doing at least one of them this summer.

I'll post some notes later about the different models I tried out.  Might even try and post a picture or two here.

Oh, and I'm getting a handcycle.  The CAF ( is helping me out by filling a grant request.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: pegleg jack on April 16, 2008, 08:18:01 AM
JClark, that some good information thanks for sharing it with all of us,
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: Mitchee on April 16, 2008, 12:28:16 PM
Congrats on the CAF grant!!!    8)

I look forward to reading about your experiences.    :)
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: herb on April 17, 2008, 08:30:39 PM
Hi jclark - I wish I had known about that event. I like in NH and would love to do some biking. I have tried a standard bike and could not get comfortable on it.I have seen a few paralysed people using hand cycles and asked them the price and was shocked at the cost. Were you able to get some help with the cost? Herb
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: JClark on April 17, 2008, 09:38:57 PM
Yes, I was able to get help with the cost.  Check out CAF ( they run a grant program.  I know there are other trial programs at UNH like the one I went to.  You could probably also call them and get some advice even if they aren't running this event.  Drop them a line, their web site is

Yes, they are expensive, but it'll be so good to be able to get out and get active.  I was moving faster around that track on my first lap than I've moved under my own power in a few years.

I'm already registered for a 10 MILE race this October in DC.  I figure I should be able to train up to that kind of distance between now and October.

Does anyone live in the DC area?  Come watch me race!
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: Dick Stevens on April 18, 2008, 07:00:04 PM

Good for you.  Let us know when the DC race will be.  We'll have to gather up a cheering section for ya among our LVH friends.

Handbiking sounds like a good deal for you.  Just take good care of those legs, especially the one that's still healing.

See you at LVH
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: JClark on May 11, 2008, 04:16:55 PM
It's been a hectic week, finals at school and my handcycle showed up this week.  The box it came in was HUGE.  And the guy who delivered it was shocked when I said that "some assembly required".

Here's the scoop on some of the differences between them.

The Quickie wheelchair people make one called the Shark.  Very cool looking, and can be adjusted in so many ways it makes your head spin.  They look cool though.

Quickie makes something called a "cyclone" that you can bolt a part to your wheelchair and then attach/detatch a handcycle part at will.  This has proven to be handy to "bike" to school and then have the wheelchair for the day at school.  It's wobbly, kind of hard to configure, but it does work.  It requires a wheelchair that does NOT fold, and costs about $1,000 new, if you can find one. 

The Invacare wheelchair people make the "Top End" family of handcycles. 

The low end of the top end is a 7 speed.  There is a "mountain drive" option that doubles this to 14 speeds for hills.  Running the pedals backwards is the brake.  If that could be disabled and a regular handgrip type brake put on, this would be a very good choice for lots of people.

The next step up you get lots more "stuff".  You get 24 speeds like most mountain bikes today.  Hand grip brakes.  Turning the pedal backwards lets it spin free (makes turning, getting on/off easier).  On this one, it's also possible to order the "pedals" in different configurations.  You can pick three widths for the handgrips as well as three different lengths for the grips.  This lets you focus cranking power on arms, shoulders or chest depending on what option you take.

Both options let you pick color (very important!) and what type of wheels you want - racing bike type wheels, general purpose type wheels, or really knobby off-road type wheels (not recommended as this bike isn't designed for rugged mountain bike type operations.

Other options like water bottle, safety flag, odometer (bike computer) can be done yourself or at the factory.  There are adjustments to the seat height, back angle and length of leg rests.

With all the options (except the Cyclone) you sit about 8" off the ground.  So getting in/out takes some practice, depending on your ability to get around.  The rear wheels detatch easily to make it a little smaller, but then it is not balanced and will not sit upright.

It will not hang from a standard bike rack.  They do make a special bike rack for about $300.  I'm investigating having one made by a friend of a friend.

More info as I start getting out on the road with it.  I'm going to stick to trails as much as possible or with groups because of the low visibility compared to cars.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: pegleg jack on May 12, 2008, 08:37:15 AM
Jake, the more i read from you on this makes me want to go out and get me one, just may do that after i get back off vacation. with swimming and bike riding on one of those that you discribed look like i could loose this extra 50 lbs that i need to do. KEEP THE INFORMATION COMING ON HOW YOU ARE GETTING ALONG WITH IT.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: JClark on June 10, 2008, 12:06:09 AM
Hey, it's time for an update on the handcycle front.

If you go to this web page ( you can find some pics of my handcycle.  There's also a picture of a Quickie Cyclone that converts a wheelchair to a handcycle.

I've got about 48 miles on the bike as of Sunday morning.  I can hit 24 mph (downhill!) and I can do about 12-14mph pretty easily on flat stretches of the route.  And I did a 10 mile route in 50 minutes.

Skip the water bottle, bike computer and safety flag if you buy one.  My local bike shop installed a flag and computer for $70 and I bought a camelbak water backpack that holds 2 liters and works very well.  I made a little rope web behind the seat and clip the camelbak to that, as well as a couple little zipper pouches that I stash my car keys and stuff in while I ride.

Get used to strange looks from people when you go riding!  They're all very friendly though.  My biggest problem is I ride on a 4 foot wide path with a 2 foot grass "shoulder" on each side on top of a 30 foot tall river levee.  Turning around at the end of my ride to go back gets tricky, but the scenery is wonderful.

I made a DVD that shows me riding the bike in a parking lot, as well as a friend riding it for a few minutes.  The DVD also includes a video of the Quickie Cyclone device.  And a little power-point slide show about the race this fall.  I'm going to make a video of one of my rides (how do you strap a camcorder to you while you ride a bike?) for a future version of this video.

If you want a copy of this DVD, send me email (I think you can do it through this forum) or by going to this web page ( and I'll send you the DVD.  Someone asked me why I don't post it to you-tube, but I don't want every Tom, Dick and pervert watching it.  A couple bucks for postage would be appreciated if you want the video.

After I had about 10 or 15 miles on it, I realized that my back ached more after a ride.  I adjusted the angle of the seat (easy to do) and that seems to have fixed that problem.

I'm very grateful to the folks at Northeast Passage ( I learned enough at their one day clinic to know what and how to adjust on the bike.  If there is interest, I could make a video segment about the adjustments for future versions of the DVD.

Yeah, give a computer geek with a photography background a camera, a camcorder and a series of programs that can make a DVD and then give him some free time, and you get all sorts of projects.

The upper body workout of this bike is amazing.  As far as "how hard is it to ride?" it's as easy as a bike, except you don't need to balance.  You can make the effort as hard or as easy as you want with all the gears.  Turning radius is pretty wide though.

I'm still waiting for the custom built rack to carry this on the back of my car.  A friend of a friend is building one for about $200, compared to the $350 from the manufacturer.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: JClark on June 10, 2008, 10:26:56 PM
Someone asked me this, thought I'd share it with y'all...

Q: I have noticed that handcycles peddle with both hands side by side. On a regualar bicycle one foot goes oposite of the other foot which seems like it would be easier to hand cycle the same way. Can you tell me what you think?

A: Yes, the handcycles have both hands working in unison - unlike a bike.  At first, it seems like handcycles are "wrong".  Even the few gym machines for this type of thing and they are offset like a bike.  But once you try it the handcycle way, it's not bad.  By working together, you can use your shoulders and back for extra leverage.  If they were bike-style/offset, you'd be constantly rotating, I think with my back problems, it would not be good.  Because of the shoulder and back leverage, I think I get a stronger push this way.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: pegleg jack on June 11, 2008, 08:58:42 AM
I do believe that by doing it that way, they are trying to simulate the butterfly stroke swimming, making you use your shoulders and back muslces  more, when i am swimming and doing the butterfly stroke i can feel it pull on my back and shoulders real heavy.

JClark, thanks for the update, we are looking at getting one for both me and my wife.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: chrysochloridae on June 13, 2008, 11:21:48 AM
there is an adjustable crank system out there somewhere.... so you can adjust the lengths and angles of the pedals to accommodate a prosthesis.... don't know who makes it though, or how much it costs
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: Mitchee on June 13, 2008, 01:33:43 PM
there is an adjustable crank system out there somewhere.... so you can adjust the lengths and angles of the pedals to accommodate a prosthesis.... don't know who makes it though, or how much it costs

There are a few manufacturers that I can think of.  I'm sure there are more out there.

The company in the link below offers an adjustable swing crank and an adjustable crank shortener.

The link below is for the rotor crank system.  This system is designed for the serious cyclist.  They are relatively expensive for the occasional rider.  You can purchase crank arms in different lengths and the rotor crank system also eliminates the dead spot when you pedal.  Please refer to the website for more info.

Excel Sports sells a wedge which corrects common foot misalignment problems when feet are placed on the pedals.  It retails for $24.95 USD +S & H.  If the link below doesn't work, try... and searching for LeWedge or bike fit systems cleat shims.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: chrysochloridae on June 18, 2008, 03:13:32 PM
Thanx 4 the info Mitchee...

Have you tried any of the products?
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: Rikk on June 23, 2008, 03:54:33 AM
I've used the highpath swingcrank which is what got me back on the bike. Great for road/parks/canal paths but no use in the rough as it's so low you catch on every root.

I'm now using the Rotor, this is just amazing as it eliminates the 6/12 dead spot which for amputee's is a killer there's not a lot I now can't do compared to my able bodied riding mates. Yesterday I lead a group on an 18mile xc/all mountain route and noone was complaining it was slow ;)

Any Q's on the RotoR let me know.
Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: Mitchee on June 23, 2008, 11:35:03 PM
Thanx 4 the info Mitchee...

Have you tried any of the products?

I used the wedge from Excel Sports before I became an amputee.  I still use them.  I plan on purchasing the rotor crank system next spring. 

I have been fortunate, I really haven't needed to make too many adjustments to my riding style.  The biggest problem was that my socket was digging into the back of my thigh when I pedaled.  I haven't had any other problems with pedaling, strength, etc.  I did have to build my confidence (after my amputation) before I felt comfortable riding with cleated pedals in traffic.  I practiced clipping in and out of the pedals on a side street and I practiced starting and stopping until I felt comfortable and then I began riding in traffic.

I'm glad to see that Rikk has added to this thread.  Rikk, thanks for your posts.  Chrysochloridae, Rikk is a great source for info.  Rikk is an avid rider and can probably answer just about any question that you or your patients may have.

Title: Re: Handcycles
Post by: Rikk on June 24, 2008, 02:39:32 AM
chrysochloridae, not sure if you've seen this in the other thread, if not take a peek at this and fire away with any Q's that pop up.