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Thread: OFF-ROAD HANDCYCLES.....The ULTIMATE discussion......!!

  1. #1

    Thumbs up OFF-ROAD HANDCYCLES.....The ULTIMATE discussion......!!

    This is my honest take on this whole off-road handcycle debate (debacle??). I’m starting this debate here, because at the moment it is spread all over the place. And there are a lot of good opinions on this site. Anyway, this is how I see it…feel free to correct me.


    Rear-wheel drive is best off-road.

    My belief is that it is less important to have weight on the driving wheel, it is more the location of that driving wheel. To demonstrate this, look at the Intrepid with the Pod. There is a fair bit of weight on that front wheel, but it spins up. There is very little weight on the Pod at the rear, but the geometry of the wheel means that as it drives it tries to dig itself under the axle in front of it. It does this rather than spin up.

    For the same weight over the tire and the same force exerted, a wheel at the back will tend to “hook up”, wheras a wheel at the front will tend to spin.

    Here is another comparison. Consider the two motorcycles below. They have the same power and approximately the same weight on the rear tire. However, the geometry of the rear swing-arm means that the tendency for the drag bike is to spin the wheel. The tendency for the regular bike is to grip and dig under the high center of mass = a wheelie. It is all about center of mass and geometry. The front and rear wheels are analogous to this.

    This rear wheel will tend to spin because the axle is so far from the center of mass - like the front wheel on a traditional handcycle.


    This rear wheel will tend to grip (and send the bike into a wheelie) because the axle is so close to the center of mass - like the rear wheel on a REACTIVE handcycle, or the Power Pod.




    So, as a rule I would volunteer that the back wheel is the “primary” wheel, the front wheel is the “secondary” wheel. But the problem for me is that you want the primary wheel to be hand driven, because if you lose electrical power you want to still be able to move.
    The weakness with all traditional handcycles (1 wheel at front, 2 at back, feet forward) and Power Pod, is that if you lose electrical power you lose your primary wheel…..you are screwed.

    Kenny found this. He was climbing well in the gravel when the power cable pulled out. He was absolutely stranded on a hill. Despite all his muscles and power, he was effectively driving the “secondary” wheel, and he was just spinning. And I do not believe that adding more weight to that axle would change the situation. The weight is not the issue; the location and the geometry is the issue. I would love someone to demonstrate this with a practical test.

    This is why, in my humble opinion, the best solution for a seated off-road bike is the REACTIVE design, with the driving wheel being at the BACK, and the electrical modification ALSO being at the back.
    This is the best off-road solution (in theory). The biggest problem that I can see with this design is the price.

    This design is also why the ONE-OFFoff works so well.



    So if this is the BEST off-road, let’s look at the runners up; the more traditional handcycle design.


    What are the reasonable expectations for off-road riding??
    I think we have to accept that even an off-road handcycle will never perform like a regular mountain bike. It is just a fact.
    Compare the two. The mountain bike rider can move all about on top of this machine, changing the center of gravity and ensuring both wheels are under control. He can take risks, knowing that he can easily jump free of the bike, carry it over rocks and then hop back on. The bike can be turned within its own length. The bike is thin and can squeeze through the tightest of gaps. The bike can transverse steep inclines at an angle to the slope that a handcycle would just tip over and roll down the hill.



    There really is no comparison.

    For an off-road handcycle we have to be realistic about what we are actually trying to do. And we have to understand that we are not realistically going to be descending single track mountain slopes. We are really going to be going on forest-style fire-break trails, that vary in incline, but are never too extreme. Also, with the limited turning circle of handcycles, we have to acknowledge that trails with sharp switch-backs are not going to happen, especially when coming down hill (impossible to do a 3+ point turn down a hill).

    So, with these limitations of use in mind; we can still go off-road, but we must know our limitations. The forest in my video has almost 50 miles of tracks you could drive a truck down, with hills, lakes, meadows and forest along the way. I plan to explore every bit of those 50 miles, free from the dangers of traffic, while still getting a great work-out.

    So, what features will I need in a bike for this purpose?
    · Rideability – do I like riding it? Can I put the bike where I want to? Trunk control. Lean to steer. Upright position or laying down.
    · Turning circle – imagine coming down a steep hill and you can’t make the turn. You are faced with the edge of the trail, but you can’t back up.
    · Strength and build quality – you want a beast that will not break down out in the woods.
    · Ground clearance
    · Lightness – the more money you spend the less weight you get to push around the woods.
    · Reliability – puncture resistance. Off-road tires, low-pressures.
    · On-road performance. What is the bike like at speed over some distance?
    · Price

    I would love an independent person to test all the available bikes and to grade them alongside each other under these headings.
    Personally, I think the Reactive would win hands down for pure performance. However, when price is factored in, alongside the acceptance of a lower (more realistic) level of performance, I think a traditional bike (and Pod, of course) are a great combo.

    So...what do y'all think? ..or shall we all just get a bunch of electric Reactives!!!
    Last edited by MarkB701; 06-01-2012 at 04:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkB701 View Post
    So...what do y'all think? ..or shall we all just get a bunch of electric Reactives!!!
    Man you have no idea how hard I've been trying to get this idea out of my head since scott first posted his... $9000 is alot of dough but damn that thing looks fun. I'm sure if he could somehow get the price down around $6k I'd do it, but I realize the demand isn't there yet to be able to ramp up production enough to bring the cost down.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
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    For an off-road handcycle we have to be realistic about what we are actually trying to do. And we have to understand that we are not realistically going to be descending single track mountain slopes. We are really going to be going on forest-style fire-break trails, that vary in incline, but are never too extreme. Also, with the limited turning circle of handcycles, we have to acknowledge that trails with sharp switch-backs are not going to happen, especially when coming down hill (impossible to do a 3+ point turn down a hill).

    Obviously you've never been to the rocky mountains "off-road handcycling". I can guarentee you there are one-off and bombers(and the nuke will, too) on single tracks and terrain parks right along side two wheelers. I asked Jake to ride both the his Nuke and Bomber and compare wether there is any advantage/disadvantage of one over the other. That being said, the Nuke is designed for those(like quads) that can't ride in the kneeling position. True Off-road handcycles have a good turning radius and ride down the mountain on the switchbacks as other mountain bikers, which you'll never do with a pivot steer bike like the lasher and your intrepid.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tooley View Post
    Man you have no idea how hard I've been trying to get this idea out of my head since scott first posted his... $9000 is alot of dough but damn that thing looks fun. I'm sure if he could somehow get the price down around $6k I'd do it, but I realize the demand isn't there yet to be able to ramp up production enough to bring the cost down.
    Tooley, I recall you talking about your trip to the mountains, you'd love mountain biking, you sound like a person that really likes a challenge and it is rewarding getting to places you would never get to without an off-road hancycle. I think Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte is getting a Nuke(not electric assist) for participants to use. It's a sport that is catching on and they are starting to have off-road hancycle divisions in mountain bike races.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jschism View Post
    For an off-road handcycle we have to be realistic about what we are actually trying to do. And we have to understand that we are not realistically going to be descending single track mountain slopes. We are really going to be going on forest-style fire-break trails, that vary in incline, but are never too extreme. Also, with the limited turning circle of handcycles, we have to acknowledge that trails with sharp switch-backs are not going to happen, especially when coming down hill (impossible to do a 3+ point turn down a hill).

    Obviously you've never been to the rocky mountains "off-road handcycling". I can guarentee you there are one-off and bombers(and the nuke will, too) on single tracks and terrain parks right along side two wheelers. I asked Jake to ride both the his Nuke and Bomber and compare wether there is any advantage/disadvantage of one over the other. That being said, the Nuke is designed for those(like quads) that can't ride in the kneeling position. True Off-road handcycles have a good turning radius and ride down the mountain on the switchbacks as other mountain bikers, which you'll never do with a pivot steer bike like the lasher and your intrepid.
    I didn't really make it clear....but I was really talking about handcycles where you sit with your legs facing forward....not the kneeler types. I really like the looks of the Bomber and can see the turning circle is really tight. I would LOVE to get a ride on one of those int he rocky mountains.

  6. #6
    Hi guys!
    There is another player on the market - the Exolorer II
    http://www.handcycleracing.com/Off-Road.htm


  7. #7
    that bike is pure sex. Love it. Electrify that rear wheel and it would be insane.

    Having said that, I'm not sure I can do the kneeling thing....would have to try it.

    I see 2 very different paths here though:
    - RWD kneelers. Agile, great down hill, hard to pedal uphill, not for touring. EXPENSIVE.
    - FWD sitters. Not agile, crap unless on nice paths, comfortable for touring and luggage. CHEAP.

    Electrification helps make both paths fun. And fun is the primary reason for all this.

  8. #8
    Mark,

    I think we are in agreement. The most important aspect of this sport is to get outdoors and enjoy yourself!
    Everyone’s strengths and weakness are different and we have adapt to take both into consideration.

    In my opinion the rear drive keelers have the best off-road handcycle performance, if your body will handle it.
    The kneeling position lets you get your torso weight over the cranks and allows you to shift your weight around to adjust center of gravity.
    My two cents for what it’s worth.

    Off-road Power Pod questions:

    • Reverse?
    • One more tire to deal with. Three is a hand full.
    • Weight – (the off-road bikes weight 50-60 lbs.) additional batteries and motor?
    • Extra length w/ Power Pod – what happens when you come across a narrow ditch.
    • Side hills – how does the PP effect center of gravity? Will the power wheel track behind the bike?
    • Water – how does the motor deal with water?
    • Protection for the legs?
    Mark, Tooly - There going to be a Off-Road handcycle race in Ketchum, Idaho on July 5.
    In addition to the race, One-Off and reactive Design representatives plan to be there.
    Everything is still in the planning stages but, they are hoping to have extra bikes and put on some clinics.

    Here are some samples of rides I did last fall on a human powered One-Off kneeler to give a feel for terrain.
    This is my third season off-roading. Pushing the limits a little each year.
    I tend to ride by myself most rides. Risk VS. gain needs to be considered. More so with electrics I would think.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFuS-...re=context-gau
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Q_p...re=context-gau

    A sectiion of trail I rode two weeks ago.
    Last edited by Jett; 06-03-2012 at 01:34 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jett View Post
    Mark,

    I think we are in agreement. The most important aspect of this sport is to get outdoors and enjoy yourself!
    Everyone’s strengths and weakness are different and we have adapt to take both into consideration.

    In my opinion the rear drive keelers have the best off-road handcycle performance, if your body will handle it.
    The kneeling position lets you get your torso weight over the cranks and allows you to shift your weight around to adjust center of gravity.
    My two cents for what it’s worth.

    Off-road Power Pod questions:

    • Reverse?
    • One more tire to deal with. Three is a hand full.
    • Weight – (the off-road bikes weight 50-60 lbs.) additional batteries and motor?
    • Extra length w/ Power Pod – what happens when you come across a narrow ditch.
    • Side hills – how does the PP effect center of gravity? Will the power wheel track behind the bike?
    • Water – how does the motor deal with water?
    • Protection for the legs?
    Hey Jett..!!
    I couldnt load those youtubes, but that trail looks awesome.



    To answer the questions:
    = No reverse. However, other manufacturers do have reverse on their motors - you just reverse polarity to the motor. If this was something that was desired then I could rig up a simple reverse switch.
    = The extra wheel has some benefits that are not obvious at first.

    -ride off-road one day, then clip it to your road-bike the next day. Or sell your bike without selling the Pod.
    -PP tire has about 10psi in it and about 25lbs weight on it. You can roll it over tacks and it won't puncture.
    -If you replace one of your handcycle wheels with a motor wheel, you cannot repair a puncture at the side of the road. There is no quick release for a motor wheel, it needs a torque rod attached. The extra weight of the motor on that wheel will also increase the risk of puncture. YOu will then want a solid tire to prevent punctures. The whole thing will then be so heavy you will start having a difficult time loading the bike on your own.

    =The Pod articulates around its axle, best shown in these pics:



    = Side hills; the PP will track true behind the handcycle since there is only +/- 3' movements. The mass of the battery is over the rear axle. It is speculation because I need to test it, but the weight is low enough not to screw up handling, even on slopes.
    = PP motor and control box are water-proof. The Anderson connectors are high up, but could be weather-proofed to make sure.
    = Protection for legs - Not sure exactly what you are asking. Actually, you are asking about the Intrepid? I have put 2 rods either side of the bike with foam on them and they are doing the trick keeping my legs out of trouble. You can see them on the pic of Kenny below.





    I guess the biggest argument for the Power Pod is the cost.
    You can buy an Intrepid for less than $2k.
    You can buy a Power Pod for just over $1k.

    I get to cycle off-road trails with friends on mountain bikes, on the same trails I used to ride before my accident. I can climb up hill for 2 miles and stay with my friends, doing 7mph average plus. And I feel about as exhausted afterwards as I used to when I was AB. Then the next day i can ride on the road on a different bike and cover 30 miles at over 20 mph. I am getting more exercise and more enjoyment than ever.
    Last edited by MarkB701; 06-03-2012 at 12:12 PM.

  10. #10
    I found this. And please don't take it the wrong way, that is not my intention. But it does show the vast chasm between being able to use your legs versus your arms. Can you imagine a world class AB mountain biker going slow enough that a kid tries to push him up the hill?

    Withouth legs I see no shame in using some assistance (electrical or otherwise) in order help me get out there to exercise and enjoy life.


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