Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trends in Handcycles and Adaptive Kid's bikes

In anticipation of biking season, I contacted Scott Pellet of Bike-on.com recently. Scott and his wife Lynn are specialists in adaptive bikes. Their business, located in Rhode Island, is a global distributorship of many brands and styles. The bulk of their sales are of handcycles, but foot-pedal bikes, recumbent bikes, kids bikes, tandems, other specialty bikes, wheelchairs, and many types of accessories are all available.

Scott told me that handcycle racing has really taken off in Europe, and that a major race was taking place in Dubai even as we were speaking. Although not as popular in the U.S., handcycle racing is a growing sport overall. Performance handcycles have seen lots of design advancements in recent years that make for an increasingly faster ride. If you like bikes described as "missiles", the Top End K Force shown above and the Quickie Shark S are two of the extreme high end handcycles for those who are serious competitors with over $5000 to spend. More affordable quality recreation handcycles include the XLT, a performance design, and the Excelerator, an upright touring model. Handcyclists can keep up to speed on the latest trends and techniques and connect with others via the Bike-on Community organized on Scott's website.

For handcyclists who are quadriplegic or have difficulty with grip, Scott recommends interchangeable grips for the hands. The C5 grip is a glove which clips into the headset crank - no wrenches needed. We use these in our adaptive cycling program and they are a fantastic advantage for those who need them. If your hands are different in ability, there are some basic styles that can be mixed and matched to best suit your needs.

I asked Scott about innovations in kid's bikes. He is seeing more and more families getting their kids out riding. The challenge is finding the right bikes so that all members can equally enjoy biking without being held back by the slowest rider. He recommended the Hase Trets Trike - an versatile foot-pedaled kid's bike that can be ridden independently but also attached to an adult's bike as needed and pedaled as a tandem. With this unique combination, families can ride for miles together. The Trets Trike works especially well with the Hase Pino Tour bike as shown in this picture from the Bike-on.com website, but can be attached to other Hase bikes and even bikes of other brands using a coupler.

You can find some extended info on handcycles and other equipment mentioned here in the comment section below. This is just the beginning of what Bike-on.com can offer. To get recommendations for your own cycling needs, visit the website to get started, then contact Scott or Lynn at 888-424-5866.


Marcy said...

Scott answers a few of my questions about handcycles:

Are there any particular models of performance handcycles that you recommend over others?
Which make/model is the very high end?

The Schmicking handcycle from Germany is what many see as the premiere racing handcycle. It is popular among European racers. It is very meticiulously crafted of high quality 7000 series aluminum, then heat treated. They build very precisely and even offer light and ultra-lightweight frames. In cases of ultra-light weight frames, they cut all the frame pieces, then ship them to a company in Italy that lays additional material onto the ends of the frame tubes for structure to wel, then back to Schmicking for production. The process can take some months and this often is a frustration for customers. The usual cost of the Schmicking handcycle is in the $8-12k range..

The US counterpart to the Schmicking is the Force R handcycle from Top End. This bike is of very good production quality. Top End has made strides in the past couple of years to get into this refined category of high-end racing handcycle. They have actually done a nice job with it and although they do not have the final price point to spread around their production floor, they have not squandered their resources. They have maximized their pricepoint by bringing very good consistency to the table. The weight of the bike is as low as competition will allow, it is stiff and responsive and it is getting good marks from US racers and we're shipping a fair number to Europe too. The usual invoice for the Force R is in the range of $5-6k.

We recommend the Force R over the Schmicking since it is sourced in the US and is more accessible for parts and service and delivery is quicker and more consistent, and because the performance level is excellent.

What is the best affordable deal for those who can’t pay top dollar?

The Top End XLTPRO, XL, Excelerator are top values for the dollar. As well, many folks find their perfect bike on the Bike-On Classified page. We are the only dealer in handcycles that offers a selection of used bikes. These are often in excellent condition and sometimes upgraded by racers who, as the sport dictates, are always moving into new bikes - here's the link http://bike-on.com/product-list/used-handcycles-pg108/. We always recommend folks reach out to us and let us guide them towards the best bike choice for them. We consider their disability, their cycling goals, the terrain in their area and of course their budget.

Is one make/model more popular or preferred than others in the US?

Not to sound too much like a broken record, but Top End has made a concentrated dedication to the sport of handcycles and has a fleet of bikes to serve any rider from the recreational to competiticve handcyclist.

Do you have any photos of the Kids Trets Trike in use independently? (that I can use for a blog post) Is there are place on your website that shows the Universal Coupler or is that a standard item available in bike shops? Approximate price on that?

I think there may be a picture of two of the Trets in action on the hasebike site. Look for the Trix too - here's the link to the Trix (you can see the universal coupling there (around $250). From this page you can navigate their site and see the other cool cycles they make http://hasebikes.com/182-1-rehab-trike-trix.html

Scott Pellett Toll-Free USA 1-888-424-5366
Outside USA 1-401-615-0339
Fax 1-401-821-7544

Anonymous said...

Good write up....

I guess that Scott didn't mention any of the handcycles that he doesn't carry?

Freedom Ryder: Great quality long established handcycles with probably more pedigree than any other handcycle on the market. Based in Oregon. There is more on their website www.freedomryder.com

Intrepid Cycles: Fantastic value for a solid handcycle. They are a relatively new company, but are definitely worth a look. Based in California. There is more on their website www.handcycle.net

I am just saying that there are other options out there.