Round Up: Cycles for all

Cyclescheme, 27.08.2012

Round Up: Cycles for all

Being disabled seldom means you can't cycle, as the Paralympics proves. There are cycles to suit just about everyone.

Whatever your disability, the chances are that there will be a cycle that you can ride. More sophisticated (and lighter weight) special needs cycles are expensive, as they're not mass produced, but entry-level machines are available within the Cycle to Work threshold. And there are lots of conventional cycles that will suit a disable rider too, with or without adaptations.

Cyclists with restricted leg movements can benefit from shorter cranks, so that the knee doesn't have to come up as high at the top of the pedal stroke. A swing crank takes this idea one stage further, enabling the leg to bend even less while still contributing to pedalling.

A step-through frame lets anyone who can't throw a leg over the saddle get aboard easily. There are lots of options, from small-wheeled bikes such as the Brompton and Moulton, to so-called women's frames. A height-adjustable 'dropper' seatpost, designed for mountain bikers to lower the seat out of the way while descending difficult trails, can be a useful extra - lowering the saddle for mounting the bike, then raising it for riding.

Cyclists with the effective use of one arm or hand can still brake and change gear safely. A back-pedal 'coaster' brake allows foot operation of the rear brake. To use all gears, two different kinds of gear shifter can be fitted to the same side of the handlebar. Alternatively, a hub gear or wide-range mountain bike rear derailleur may offer a good enough spread of gears via one shifter: a Shimano Alfine 11 hub gives a 409% range; an 11-36 cassette a 327% range.

A tricycle, upright or recumbent, is the answer to many disabilities, as it removes the need to balance. Tricycles can be equipped with hand cranks, allowing those with no use of their legs to 'pedal' manually.

Recumbent cycles address a range of aches, pains or more serious problems with the neck, back, backside, hands and arms, as the rider sits on a laid-back seat, with the bodyweight borne largely by the back.

Electric assistance enables struggling cyclists to ride faster, further, or simply more easily – particularly up hills. You can buy electric assist bikes complete, or add electric assistance to an existing machine. (We'll look at electric bikes in more detail in future.)

Even the blind and partially sighted can cycle – on the back of a tandem with a sighted companion.

Here's just a selection of the off-the-peg cycles available. 


 Kona Africabike Three

Kona Africabike Three

Based on the bombproof singlespeed that Kona designed for health and community workers in Africa, the Africabike Three is a sturdy roadster with a relaxed, upright riding position and an integrated rear pannier rack. Its step-through frame means that it's easy to get onto, and it's made from aluminium so it's lighter than it looks. Gearing is three-speed, so it's better suited to flatter areas. The hub includes a coaster brake, which means it could safely be ridden one handed. Fat tyres provide comfort and control on rougher roads. Useful accessories include mudguards, chainguard, kickstand, wheel lock, and basket.

£450

www.konaworld.com


 Pashley Tri-1 Folding

PashleyTri-1 Folding

A three-wheeler is the solution to any balance problem. Pashley's 20-inch wheeled adult tricycle has a step-through frame and an easy, roadster-style riding position. A 7-speed derailleur gives a reasonable gear range, and it's equipped with a V-brake and a weatherproof drum brake. There's a useful load platform between the rear wheels for shopping or commuting essentials. A hinge in the frame enables the trike to fold in half. With the seatpost and stem removed from the frame, it should fit in a car boot. There's a non-folding version for £50 less.

 £715

www.pashley.co.uk


 Mission Cycles Rehatri 24

Mission Cycles Rehatri 24

One of the most cost-effective options for wheelchairusers wanting to start cycling, this is a hand-cranked trike with an upright, chair-style seat. Drive goes to the front wheel via a 7-speed hub gear. That hub has a coaster brake too, allowing the Rehatri to be slowed without the rider having to reach for a brake lever. The wheelbase is wide enough, at 74cm, to provide good stability, while being narrow enough to fit through gates and doorways. The seat position is adjustable, as are the foot supports. 

£790

www.missioncycles.co.uk


 Dawes Duet

Dawes Duet


Dawes's entry-level tandem is a hybrid for two, with an aluminium frame and strong, 48-spoke, 26-inch wheels. The 21-speed gearing will cope with all but the hilliest commute, and it comes with the mudguards and rear rack you'd buy anyway. There's enough adjustability in the handlebar and seat positions to fit the majority of riders. Brakes and gears are controlled, as is normal with tandems, entirely by the front rider, known as the pilot. That means the pilot and stoker (rear rider) don't have to work at the same location, as the pilot can ride the tandem solo. 

 £799.99

www.dawescycles.com


 KMX Typhoon Adult Sports Trike

KMX Typhoon Adult Sports Trike

Recumbent tricycles combine three-wheel stability with a go-kart like sense of fun. The back-tilted bucket seat and feet first riding position provides better aerodynamics than an upright trike, so it feels sportier. The KMX Typhoon has a steel frame with an aluminium front boom that adjusts to fit different sized riders. Gearing is an 8-speed mix of Microshift and Shimano Alivio, while brakes are budget cable discs – the front wheel ones operated by a twin-pull lever. Fat Schwalbe Big Apple tyres provide shock absorbency. Optional accessories include mudguards, a rear rack, and a head rest.

£899

www.kmxkarts.co.uk

 

Useful links

• Disabled cyclists' discussion group: http://inclusivecyclingforum.org.uk/

• Wheels for All, nationwide disability charity: www.cycling.org.uk/wfa/intro

• Tandem Club: www.tandem-club.org.uk

• Highpath Engineering, for crank shortening or swing cranks: www.highpath.net

• Longstaff Cycles - tricycle specialists and bespoke adaptations: www.longstaffcycles.com

• UK Handcycling Association: http://www.handcycling.org.uk/

 

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