It’s an ideal activity for people who have no or limited use of their legs, people who have poor balance, or anyone that just wants to try a different sport. It’s a great piece of adaptive equipment that allows people to get outside.
Just about anyone can do it. It’s an accessible sport. It’s not just for racing; it’s also for recreational riding. It’s a barrier breaker that allows a disabled rider to participate in cycling with friends and families who may be riding conventional bicycles.
Mine is a very standard handcycle bike but handcycles benefit from today’s lightweight racing technology, using lightweight materials and thin-wall tubing for decreased weight and increased strength. Current racing cycles weigh about 25 lbs. to 30 lbs. and are getting lighter all the time.
A recumbent handcycle, borrowed from the cycling industry, usually come in a choice of three or seven speeds, which naturally limits the speed to less than 15 mph. They are easy to transfer in and out of from a wheelchair, and have a natural, fork-type steering system.
Recumbent handcycles come in a few different variations. There are two steering options: fork-steer and lean-to-steer, and two seating options: one where the rider reclines and the other, a “trunk-power” version, where the rider leans forward.
The trunk-power handcycle doesn’t have much of a seatback. The cranks are low to the ground and far away from the rider. With this arrangement, riders are able to put the weight of their trunks behind each stroke, allowing them to go faster for longer. The limitation to this type of handcycle, is that the athlete must have control of most or all of his abdominal muscles, so it may not be. With the other seating option, the rider sits in a seat with a reclined back. The cranks are higher and closer, allowing the rider to use the seatback for leverage to rotate the cranks.