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Thread: Handcycle question

  1. #1

    Handcycle question

    Hi,

    I don't have an SCI, but have a neurodegenerative disease that leaves me with severely impaired balance (lower, relevant-to-this truncal, and upper body)(I am in a wheelchair because of it).

    I am trying to see if I can use a handcycle. I have found one - a Freedom Ryder Twist Shift - and tried it out for only a few minutes today and... I was horrible. I have read there is a learning curve for lean-steers (which makes sense) and the guy I was buying it from was disabled/wheelchair as well - disability unknown - but he said he experienced the same experiences as me his first gos as well.

    I don't want to drop this money if I'm not, or at the very least infrequently, going to use it because I'm bad with no hope of getting better.

    I am asking: Was it hard from your first experience for you/how hard was it for you? I have it borrowed for a couple days, but a couple days might not be enough time to gain a decent mastery of it... so I'm asking for others' experiences.

  2. #2
    IMO if you have a balance issue, the leansteer will not work for you. The leansteer takes a certain amount of balance to keep it upright. I am a higher level injury and as much as I loved my leansteer, I just coudn't handle it with the little balance I have. A pivot steer type handcycle woud be much more beneificial fr you and much safer. If it's not right you won't ride it.

    I suggest you look at the freedom Ryder FRH or FRH1A.. Perhaps a Top End Force, not a Pro; that design is more than 13 years old.

  3. #3
    Senior Member IsMaisin's Avatar
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    If your mobility impairment is mostly balance and you still have muscular control of your legs (basically my situation), you may be better off using a pedal-powered tadpole trike. You would be able to exercise your legs, the trikes are usually cheeper, and there are many to choose from. They are very easy to learn to use, and some models practically cradle your body so you don't spend any effort trying to stay on.

    This is an old picture of my Catrike when I was still healthy and commuted.

    Played with bombs- No SCI, Brain Damage enough that I require a chair and a caregiver.

  4. #4
    Yep, a tadpole style using cleats on the pedals is way cool. My wife rides one and a buddy with MS and balance challenges rides it with no problem at all.

  5. #5
    Senior Member IsMaisin's Avatar
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    I use Speedplay Frogs for clips. Lots of play, easy to use, and low enough profile that I could walk without clanking.

    After that picture was taken, I used a dremmel to move the cleat under the arch of my foot instead of the ball.
    Played with bombs- No SCI, Brain Damage enough that I require a chair and a caregiver.

  6. #6
    I'm paralyzed from chest down but not SCI and balance is an issue. I got a Freedom Rider around 1997 and used it recreationally for about 8 years. I loved this bike! I used a lower-chest strap to help control my upper body. At one point I used one of those wider expansion straps that's sometimes advertised for quad rugby and basketball, and is in the Sportaid catalog. I always got a strong stroke with the use of a chest strap to immobilize my upper body. I could not bike without such a strap.

    The FR was just plain easy to negotiate turns with practically just tilting my head. It took me about a week of use to totally "get it".
    The reason I looked at buying the Freedom Rider in the first place was that after trying non-FR handcycles, I had a hard time manipulating the steering, but, of course that was about 15 years ago and I'm sure that springs or something now lets one return the handlebars to neutral position without needing much strength. My first ride on the FR was effortless, but, yes took a bit of practice.

    Best of luck to you!

  7. #7
    Thanks so much for the replies guys!

    Despite my first free (at home) ride being 100% night-and-day from when I tried it for a few minutes at the seller's location, I decided to return it because I couldn't balance unless I was holding on to one of the side bars therefore pedaling with only one hand... which is way too strenuous.

    Patrick: Thanks for the rec! I'm unsure of how a pivot-steer system works, if that means you turn the handles to steer; it seems the legs being connected to the front wheel makes this impossible; But I will research after this post, first google results for 'pivot steering handcycle' or a few other combos didn't yield helpful results.

    Maisin: Amazing pic! Looks so fun! I have enough strength and functionality, I think, of my lower limbs where I'd be able to pedal with my feet, but have an issue where my legs bow open if that makes sense... but I myself can conceive of adaptive equipment to address that issue so equipment must already exist. But going the trike route opens up a whole ton of choices, and I was looking to get a handcycle (or outdoor manual vehicle, anyway) for the summer. Guess that isn't going to happen lol.

    The trike + adaptive equipment I'm conceiving of would be great for me! I've been worrying about my lower body strength and functionality recently and have been thinking of how to work my legs, but your post gave me great ideas! I might even be able to use an old stationary bike I have if the equipment I'm conceiving of exists or can be made; not as great as an outdoor vehicle, but it'd take care of my how-to-work-legs dilemma!

    triumph: Thanks for the post! Sportaid catalog... sounds like it might have everything I could need to become physically active! I'll need to look it up.

  8. #8
    Senior Member IsMaisin's Avatar
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    Don't worry about your legs bowing open on a tadpole trike. Because of the amount of extension each leg gets during the pedal-circle, your legs will be in constant motion.

    The most important thing when picking out a trike is to get in one and demo it. I did tons of research on mine, went in to demo a short list of 5, and walked out ordering one that wasn't even on my list. Comfort and how well the trike suits you is far more important than anything else. A comfy trike is a ridden trike.

    If you feel comfortable sharing the name of a nearby large city, I'll try to track down a few shops you could go to to demo trikes. This is one case where I don't push a company that has been good to me, you need to actually sit in and pedal the trike.

    It will be important for you to use "clip less" pedals. Dont be fooled by the name, clipless just means that there is no strap or cage. There is a receiver that mounts on the bottom of your biking shoe that keeps your foot from falling off the pedal.

    Feel free to PM me with any questions or just post and I'll try to answer. Tadpole trikes is one of the areas that I really consider myself knowledgeable in.

    I use a roller trainer on my back wheels when I want to exercise and don't have anyone to go with me. It isn't safe for me to be alone on the road anymore.

    You might also visit Bentrider Online and their forums. Lots of good info and lots of strong opinions. I used to be very active their until I lost all my logon credentials in a computer crash.
    Played with bombs- No SCI, Brain Damage enough that I require a chair and a caregiver.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by IsMaisin View Post
    Don't worry about your legs bowing open on a tadpole trike. Because of the amount of extension each leg gets during the pedal-circle, your legs will be in constant motion.

    The most important thing when picking out a trike is to get in one and demo it. I did tons of research on mine, went in to demo a short list of 5, and walked out ordering one that wasn't even on my list. Comfort and how well the trike suits you is far more important than anything else. A comfy trike is a ridden trike.

    If you feel comfortable sharing the name of a nearby large city, I'll try to track down a few shops you could go to to demo trikes. This is one case where I don't push a company that has been good to me, you need to actually sit in and pedal the trike.

    It will be important for you to use "clip less" pedals. Dont be fooled by the name, clipless just means that there is no strap or cage. There is a receiver that mounts on the bottom of your biking shoe that keeps your foot from falling off the pedal.

    Feel free to PM me with any questions or just post and I'll try to answer. Tadpole trikes is one of the areas that I really consider myself knowledgeable in.

    I use a roller trainer on my back wheels when I want to exercise and don't have anyone to go with me. It isn't safe for me to be alone on the road anymore.

    You might also visit Bentrider Online and their forums. Lots of good info and lots of strong opinions. I used to be very active their until I lost all my logon credentials in a computer crash.
    Thank you for being so helpful.

  10. #10
    The FR leansteers are a lot of fun once you get the hang of leaning, I would not mind getting another one at some point, I've been keeping my eyes open for a used LC1, I definately miss riding a leansteer as a rec bike. I'd even be interested in a good used CB-1 if the price was right.
    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

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