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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Andalucía, Spain

    Help me find/design a hand-cranked bike!

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    Hola, Everyone:

    I'm not sure if this thread belongs here, but I didn't know where else to put it.

    Here's my issue:

    My dear friend R was afflicted with polio as a child, which has left her with very weak legs, and she has to walk with crutches and occasionally a battery-powered cart. Nevertheless, in her chest beats the heart of an athlete, and we've found ways to compensate for her legs by focusing on swimming and kayaking. We spend most of our summer weekends kayaking when I'm not out riding.

    Recently, however, we discovered a state-sponsored program in a city relatively close to us (~100km), that rents hand-cranked bikes to encourage folks like my friend to ride. She tried it with her sister about a month ago, and, of course, is now hooked on biking! It makes perfect sense... she can feel the sense of speed from moving her own body over land (not water), something she's never felt before (can't run), and she finds it exhilarating.

    She's now interested in buying a hand-cranked bike, but we want to look at all the available options. The one she rented was custom produced by a local shop (we live in Southern Spain), and it sounded heavy from her description. In any case, we have decided to contact the local manufacturer, but before doing that we wanted (OK, I wanted) to be better informed. I have done my obligatory visit to Ms.Google, and found plenty of places in the US and Europe that make trikes and quads that can be adapted for hand cranking. But they don't really tell me anything about how they FEEL, or compare powering methods, trike shapes and other design issues... So, here are my questions:

    1. What is the difference between a trike and a quad when it comes to hand-cranking? (Beyond the stability question)

    2. What is the difference between having front-wheel power or rear-wheel power, beyond length of chain?

    3. What about a trike... Two wheels up-front, or two wheels in rear?

    4. Gearing... or how "looow can you go"? After all, we have massive hills and mountains in our area, and we're looking to ride off-road too.

    I have a zillion more, but I think these are good enough to start.

    Thanks for helping me help my friend!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Washington, DC
    Hola MuddyTrails,

    I don't recall seeing anyone post about handcycles in this forum (my apologies if someone did). From a quick look at handcycles, I see that many use Shimano components, so you can find 11-32 cassettes. Perhaps posting in a disability related forum might give you more of the insights you seek, plus issues related to fit. I would suspect that when it comes to road/off-road, you will face some of the same issues as choosing between a road bike and a mountain bike.

    Saludos desde Chicago.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
    One-Off Titanium makes mountain-bike handcycles. http://www.oneoffhandcycle.com/

    Their website has a lot of information. Even if their handcycles aren't what she's looking for, the information about handcycling and handcycles in general for mountainbiking could be valuable.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Andalucía, Spain
    Thanks pll and KnottedYet for your responses!

    Indeed, I didn't see anything on this board on handcranks, but I was sure someone here might know of the subject, at least to guide me. Turns out I was right.

    I will take both of your recommendations and keep y'all posted on the progress we make.

    I'm especially grateful for the link to one-off handcycles, since I hadn't found their page during my earlier research. I'm thinking those folks might be the best ones to answer some of my questions, so I'll email them directly.

    Gracias to everyone,


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I don't have much to offer but I do know hand cranked trikes are out here. I just happened to be waching a bike race this past weekend (on television) and they had a short segment on competition aimed at disabled veterans who still are competitive with hand cycles. It was inspiring to see the riders ride the same streets as the Pros!!

    Starbucks.. did someone say Starbucks?!?!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    You might look at Lightfoot Cycles in Montana:


    I'm thinking especially about:


    I lust after one of their trikes. If I ever manage to go on a really long bike tour, that will be the ride of choice.
    Give big space to the festive dog that make sport in the roadway. Avoid entanglement with your wheel spoke.
    (Sign in Japan)

    1978 Raleigh Gran Prix
    2003 EZ Sport AX

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Metro-West, MA

    Smile Hand Cycles


    US Handcycle Federation: http://www.ushandcycling.org/about.html

    Handcycle Tech Guide :http://www.usatechguide.org/techguid...de=1&catid=239

    Trikezilla sells a bike to trik conversion kit

    I hope this helps
    "Share your knowledge-It's a way to achieve immortality"-Dalai Lama

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Top End is a company that makes performance handcycles. Here's one. It has a 27-speed drivetrain.

    For an idea of just how fast some handcyclists are, check out this video I shot of time-trialing handcyclists climbing a short steep hill and rocketing down the other side. Some of these riders looked almost as fast as the able-bodied cyclists on their TT bikes.




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