Live without Limits Blog > March 2018 > Hand bikes and disability: an active life on wheels

Hand bikes and disability: an active life on wheels



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Adaptive bikes for people with disabilities, or hand bikes, are an excellent option for traveling around cities, as well as offering an alternative way to practice sports.

There are a great number of adapted bikes on the market to choose from, so finding one to suit you should be relatively easy, regardless of your disability, age or fitness. There are hand bikes for leisure, recreational sport and competitive sports, as well as some that can be operated by foot.

How to choose an adapted hand bike

As with conventional bicycles, cycles for those with disabilities come in different sizes and adaptions, so it is advisable to take certain points into consideration before making your selection.

Your disability

Your mobility will certainly factor into choosing the most suitable bicycle type for you. Some are driven only with the legs, others just with the arms and some by a mixture of both.

Intended use

A bike designed for getting around the city is not the same as one you would use for adapted cycling. There are models on the market that are of a more urban design than those specifically designed for sport.

The options for adjustment - height, weight and body shape

Practically all hand bike designed for people with disabilities come with built-in adjustment as standard. This includes adjustable seats, handle bars, a detachable chassis etc... Always check that the range of adjustments are suitable for you by having a full demonstration and assessment with a professional before purchasing your hand bike.

Solo or accompanied

If you wish to have a companion to manage speed, or to help with steering, there are tandem models available that have been adapted for people with disabilities.

Disability cycles: touring and sports hand bikes

There are different types of bikes adapted for people with disabilities, but in this post we will focus on hand bikes that are propelled only by hand.

We will cover two types:

1. The kits that convert a wheelchair into a hand bike

2. Conventional disabled bicycles that have two rear wheels and are used in a horizontal position.


Hand bikes for wheelchairs

This involves the use of a kit that easily and very safely turns your wheelchair into a hand bike. The Attitude range of hand bikes for wheelchairs are very lightweight and are available in many different colours, meaning that they can adapt to fit all tastes and requirements.

They are easily fitted to the wheelchair, have an ergonomic grip and have support wheels hat allow the hand bike to be moved with just one hand.

Here are three of the wheelchair adapted cycle ranges available through Quickie at Sunrise Medical:

Attitude Manual hand bike: with 20" wheels and 30 speed gearing.

Attitude Hybrid hand bike: Combines the physical benefits of a manual hand bike with electrical assistance. Allows you to activate the motor for difficult stretches or when you need an extra boost of speed.

Attitude Power hand bike: 100% electric propulsion to take on any type of terrain, with a total weight (including battery) of only 15.3kg.


Sports hand bikes

These are generally used to participate in an adapted cycling capacity, through there are also models designed with leisure use in mind (known as touring hand bikes). All require the use of the arms for propulsion, steering and braking, meaning that they can be used by those with disabilities in the lower extremities and torso, such as those with certain degrees of spinal injury and paraplegics.

The Quickie hand bike range includes:

Shark RT: an adjustable hand bike for those looking to get started in the sport

Shark RS: a competition level sports hand bike

Shark RS Attack: the hand bike of choice for elite athletes with a completely welded, specially-made, frame - available through our Built 4 Me service.

As you can see, these special cycles come with a multitude of personalised options for a one-of-a-kind ride.