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Thread: Electric Assist for Child's Handcycle

  1. #1
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    Electric Assist for Child's Handcycle

    Having seen MarkB’s PowerPod handcycle attachment on CC, and noting that he didn’t recommend it for children (for reasons that I understand), I thought I would try making a version myself for my son (who is nearly 9 years old). He’s had his handcycle for about 4 years now, but it hasn’t had too much use recently, and having tried a handcycle myself, I now understand how hard it can be (hills suck!!). I wanted to make my version cheaply, so that if it didn’t work out, then I wouldn’t have wasted too much money.

    I decided to do a couple of things differently from MarkB’s design. Firstly, I used the front forks of an old bike frame (instead of using the rear frame like Mark does) as I thought it would be simpler. I managed to find someone who was selling a brand new electric bike kit (they bought the wrong sized wheel for their own bike, so the kit was unused and still in its proper packaging) – I got it for $300. I then had to pay for a tyre, inner tube, a couple of u-bolts, and a few electrical connections.

    It took me a fair bit of messing around to get it all together in the way I wanted it (probably about 7-8 hours of work all up), but here it is:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGJJQPcAh00

    My son is very happy with the end result (and so am I!). We went out for a ride, and he managed 8km without complaint (his usual distance would be less than 2km). In terms of speed, he can probably go as fast (or faster) now as any of his friends on a normal bike (although I have just discovered that the bike kit has a speed restrictor built-in, which I didn’t know about initially and haven’t yet connected!). And he can now go on grass, which is something that was extremely difficult before.

    Longer rides are planned!

    Before everyone rushes off and tries to build their own version, here are my thoughts:
    - MarkB’s design is far better. The use of the rear frame means that you can carry more equipment (and batteries). Additional weight will stop the wheel spinning as much on start-up (although my son has quickly learnt not to rev the thing up from stationary, and has worked out that a slow and steady throttle movement is better). Mark’s connector kit is much quicker and more effective than connecting and disconnecting u-bolts.
    - MarkB’s electric motor is much more powerful than the 200W kit that I managed to get cheaply. And his battery power is greater. So his kit provides more speed and greater distance (which would be necessary for an adult version). And I would think his kit is better quality than ours.
    - I feel pretty confident about my son using this attachment, under supervision. However I wouldn’t think that every kid has the same previous experience with powered “toys”. He is used to riding powered vehicles (see the electric scooter connected to his wheelchair in the kids equipment stickie, and he also rides a quad bike).
    - Whilst I managed to build my version for about $400, I did have the advantage of not paying anything for the bike frame, and getting the conversion kit at a very cheap $300 (it retails for $400). I’ve had a go at working out how much it costs MarkB to buy the equipment for his version, and I don’t reckon that there is very much profit in it for him at all. So if anyone thought that he is making lots of money out of his product, good luck in trying to come up with a similar specced product for any less cost that he sells the PowerPod for!
    - As you’ve probably worked out, I’m fairly good at coming up with ideas and solutions…and I had a good bit of spare time to get this all put together. If you haven’t got the time or lack the engineering ability, I wouldn’t even try!

    BTW I did contact MarkB before posting this on CC, as I wanted to let him know that I have no intent of marketing or selling my version (and he has a patent pending anyway!). He let me know that at least one other person has tried to make their own version, and failed. So it’s not as easy to make as it may look, nor is it as cheap as you might think to DIY…

    So thanks MarkB, you've made a number of people happy on CC with your PowerPod product, and your idea has helped us out too!
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  2. #2
    Dang Gordie, that is so cool. The addition of power has really made riding a fun sport everyone can do. I know it's allowed me to carry on. That is one cool helmut he has on.

    Great setup, I can see why you need a restrictor on it lol. THe kid was going at a pretty good clip. He sure had a big grin on his face. He's a lucky man to have a dad like you.
    Last edited by Patrick Madsen; 04-18-2012 at 02:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member djrolling's Avatar
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    Great job... Gets the job done for your boy and he seems to be loving it and why not...

  4. #4
    AWESOME... I love seeing the enjoyment your kid is getting.....I love it..!

    Your version is almost identicle to the first version I made, using a fork. I welded it onto some hot water steel plumbing (a T-piece) and slipped it onto the rear axle. It was heavy and a real pain to take on and off (had to remove the wheel and slide it on). It then scratched up the rear axle....but it showed me that the idea worked and was a good one. I would say that 80% of my work as been towards creating a strong, reliable and easy mechanism to quickly detaching and attaching the Power Pod.

    And thanks for checking with me first. The only reason I say that the Power Pod is not recommended for children is my fear of being sued for all kinds of reasons. I think that a weaker (200w motor) sounds perfect for kids, and I love seeing your son's enjoyment. It is such a liberating feeling to be able to keep up with AB friends on their bikes.

    And I LOVE the BURNOUT...lol!!! especially with that helmet, my wifes gonna get a real kick outta seeing that. Keep it up, and let me know if I can ever be of assistance for anything.....although I don't think you would ever need any !

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