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  1. #1
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    Biking without arms

    I am an avid bicyclist but not familiar with recumbents. I recently married a woman who lost her arms above the elbows in a bus accident. In addition to losing her arms the accident robbed her of her joy of biking. I still go out riding every now and then but not as much as I would like to because she can not go with me. She says she does not mind but I know this is an activity she would really like to do with me. I would appreciate your help in finding a biking solution for her. In general she is a happy woman but to be able bike again would light a new fire in her eyes. She wears prosthetics and I have been trying to think of a way to get the cable that control her hands to be able to operate the shifters. I do not think braking would be a problem as we could use the pedal brakes that are seen on many children's bikes. The biggest problem I think is steering. Without elbows she does not have the control for standard handle bars and it is not safe. Any advise you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    east coast tourer
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    what about starting with a tandem? no braking or shifting required from her if she is the stoker. i have met people who suffer from visual handicaps or stability handicaps and they get a big thrill out of tandem riding. some even compete in tandem races, tandem time trials, and even tandem touring.

  3. #3
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    If by pedal brakes you mean, coaster brake. Then no- it'll take you forever to stop. And recumbents you'll probably looking at a trike. I have no idea how you would get around the gear shifting/braking problem though.

    Cheapest trikes with disc brakes start out at around $1000. Fairly cheap in the 'bent world. Perhaps you might get a better response in that forum as well.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    If she can support herself on an upright bike, I agree a tandem may be a fun option.

  5. #5
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    I have considered a tandem. I am also looking at recumbents as a possible solution.

  6. #6
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    There are recumbent tandems as well, which might take the weight off her arms. There are combined tandems, where one person is in a recumbent seat and one in a normal bike position, but I'm not sure who does the controls on those (I think the normal bike seat is the captain's seat, though in the rear).

    Some of the older tandems are made for more upright riding, but they're generally the single-speed around-the-neighborhood type bikes.

    There are bicycles that are auto-shifting. They're not too popular, but an option to consider.

    On the coaster brake, it depends a lot on the riding you're doing. I'm riding a cruiser-style bike with coaster brake. Works great. But I generally top out at about 17 mph when pedaling, and don't have any long downhills on the routes I'm doing, and I'm not dodging big-city traffic. If you're going faster, in busy traffic, or have long downhills, it could be a problem. A lighter person should have less problem than a heavier person when using coaster brakes.

    It occurs to me also that with normal bicycling, you mostly don't use your hands for much of anything but steering or leaning on. But, every once in a while, you'll need to apply some force to the handlebars, and it could be very awkward if you couldn't. Comes up when accelerating hard, for example, or when hopping a bike back onto the asphalt.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    There are recumbent tandems as well, which might take the weight off her arms. There are combined tandems, where one person is in a recumbent seat and one in a normal bike position, but I'm not sure who does the controls on those (I think the normal bike seat is the captain's seat, though in the rear).

    Some of the older tandems are made for more upright riding, but they're generally the single-speed around-the-neighborhood type bikes.

    There are bicycles that are auto-shifting. They're not too popular, but an option to consider.

    On the coaster brake, it depends a lot on the riding you're doing. I'm riding a cruiser-style bike with coaster brake. Works great. But I generally top out at about 17 mph when pedaling, and don't have any long downhills on the routes I'm doing, and I'm not dodging big-city traffic. If you're going faster, in busy traffic, or have long downhills, it could be a problem. A lighter person should have less problem than a heavier person when using coaster brakes.

    It occurs to me also that with normal bicycling, you mostly don't use your hands for much of anything but steering or leaning on. But, every once in a while, you'll need to apply some force to the handlebars, and it could be very awkward if you couldn't. Comes up when accelerating hard, for example, or when hopping a bike back onto the asphalt.
    She is a very talented woman but racing and dodging busy city traffic going to be in her scope of riding. I would be happy to get her out on isolated country roads. I understand that autoshifters are not popular but considering her problem anything would be great.

  8. #8
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    One autoshift bike is here- don't know if there are other manufacturers:

    http://lrbikes.com/

    And one stoker-in-front semi-recumbent is here:

    http://www.bilenky.com/viewpnt.html

    Somebody had mentioned this manufacturer in the Utility forum.

    I've not dealt with either company, just relaying information.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Have a look at that Bilenky Viewpoint My wife and I have its predecessor, the Counterpoint. The stoker in front controls only a cadence modulator/adjustor. When my wife got used to my shifting style she stopped needing to use her hand and usually rides with her arms crossed in front. I have all the other controls in the rear. I have even had a RAAM winner in front who had a cast on one leg. She did not even need to pedal as there is a freewheel between the stoker and the captain further back. Ours cost us $2,400 back in 1986. I wonder at the cost of the modern viewpoint. It would definately solve the problem tho.
    This space open

  10. #10
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    I like the Hase Bike and Bilenky semi tandems and will definitely look into them. I would still like to get her to be able ride her own bike. I everyones help has been great today and I have seen a lot of possibilities. I think with a little mechanical engineering it may be possible for Sylvia to ride again. For now those are a great starting point for us to be able to ride together. I think she will be happy just to feel the wind in her face again. Hopefully some of you will see us this summer.

  11. #11
    Senior Member biker128pedal's Avatar
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    Did you see this site? I thick the guy Victor is a double above the elbows.

    http://www.mtb-amputee.com/

    http://www.mtb-amputee.com/ArmAmpute...ow%20amputees.
    Mike
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  12. #12
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    I have looked at that site. Victor is actually a single arm amputee trying to show techniques of how a double amputee might ride. His story is pretty incredible none the less.

  13. #13
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    I'd suggest you post a topic on the lines of "seeking tandem suggestions for us .. " and describe the basics, on the Tandem sub-forum here. I think you'll get some good answers.

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    It's been a while since I posted anything. I am still looking for a biking solutions for Sylvia but I have narrowed it down to either a Hase Pino or a tad pole trike.

    A couple years ago I read about a shifter that is part of the bottom bracket and is shifted by tapping the heel. I thought it was called a 'Scrumph' shifter but my google searches have not turned anything up on this. Is anyone familiar with this system?

  15. #15
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulknight View Post
    It's been a while since I posted anything. I am still looking for a biking solutions for Sylvia but I have narrowed it down to either a Hase Pino or a tad pole trike.

    A couple years ago I read about a shifter that is part of the bottom bracket and is shifted by tapping the heel. I thought it was called a 'Scrumph' shifter but my google searches have not turned anything up on this. Is anyone familiar with this system?



    I met this guy a couple years ago who rides with his father who had some balance problems. Looks a lot more stable than the ones you listed. For recumbent trikes they look pretty cool http://www.greenspeed.com.au/trikes.html


    Don't know about those shifters you mentioned, but there are some bar-end type shifters that return to center - so you don't have to actually be able to have much fine motor skill to adjust them - you just bump one direction or the other.
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

  16. #16
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Soulknight, there is at least one motorcycle racer out there that has one arm missing and worked out an attachement and perhaps special prosthetic to allow him to keep on racing. And this was desert racing with jumps and bumps so you KNOW that it had to be positive enough to not just lift out and lose the connection. So in terms of the handlebar issue and shifting don't be afraid to look at pure new design custom options. For example you remembered a foot shifter concept. Even if you can't find it it's not the end of the world. If you and your missus think it'll do the job then get creative in the shop and make something up. If you're not clear on some of the howtodoit's I'm sure you'd get a lot of design help from the group here. Getting her back out riding is a noble cause and a lot of us would be up for the design challenge once we know a bit more about this.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Tadpole trikes like #15, are steered by pushing/pulling on hand levers,
    so if a solo ride .. that may be a possibility depending on the functionality of the prosthetics, in use.
    the engineering put into the latest prosthetics is, itself, amazing.

    There are also specialist build recumbent delta trikes, drive is by the single front wheel. which also gets steered by your feet.

    braking can be by back pedaling, using a special freewheel pawl or roller clutch systems
    engaged off the left side of the crankarms.
    so brakes can be more powerful than the traditional coaster brakes.

    As said initially, for a conventional tandem if she can support herself with the prostheses, against the stoker handlebar,
    one of those would be certainly the lowest cost way to get out and about..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-06-10 at 12:18 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulknight View Post
    A couple years ago I read about a shifter that is part of the bottom bracket and is shifted by tapping the heel. I thought it was called a 'Scrumph' shifter but my google searches have not turned anything up on this. Is anyone familiar with this system?
    It's a Schlumpf. http://www.schlumpf.ch/ Apparently Greenspeed offers it as an option, but you can get it stand-alone as well. Here is one online retailer: http://bentupcycles.com/product/schl...-drive-798.htm

  19. #19
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Sturmey Archer just released a 2 speed kickback hub with coaster brake.

  20. #20
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    Schwinn used to make 2 and 3 speed kickback style hubs w/coaster brakes for 2 wheel bikes and trikes.They came in different ratios also.I forget the paint codes,but the hubs had different color stripes around the hubs denoting what they were.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  21. #21
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    Here in Reno there is a one arm amputee Vietnam veteran who uses a bike as his sole transportation. All controls are on one side of the handlebar. In fact the other half of the handlebar has been cut off as he does not wear a prosthesis.

    No help to you as you are dealing with a double amputee but it does show what is possible with determination.

    One possibility I can think of is a bike or trike with the new Dura Ace electronic shifting. Shifting can be done via switches that can be hit by prosthetics I would think. I am not sure about how to manage brake controls however.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

    Visit and join the Yahoo Geared Hub Bikes group for support and links.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    No help to you as you are dealing with a double amputee but it does show what is possible with determination.
    In 1936 Walter Greaves set the record for distance cycled in a calender year at 45,383 miles (approx 124 miles per day) despite having had one arm amputated below the elbow.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Greaves_(cyclist)

    However, I agree that this isn't directly relevant to the op but is inspirational.

  23. #23
    Low car diet JiveTurkey's Avatar
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    ^ Edit your link to include the end-parentheses.
    Quote Originally Posted by slopvehicle View Post
    Not wearing a helmet makes me more aware of my surroundings. I find myself anticipating the hardness of concrete 50 or 100 feet in front of me, it's almost a zen-like connection between my face and the pavement.

  24. #24
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    Schwinn used to make 2 and 3 speed kickback style hubs w/coaster brakes for 2 wheel bikes and trikes.They came in different ratios also.I forget the paint codes,but the hubs had different color stripes around the hubs denoting what they were.
    These hubs were made by Bendix : http://www.bunchobikes.com/auto.htm and http://www.trfindley.com/pgbndxhbs.html . Blue band means the hub has a direct gear and a higher "overdrive" gear. The yellow band means it has a low gear and a direct gear. As far as I know, there's no 3-speed kickback hub.

    A friend of mine has a hand-and-foot powered bicycle recumbent, similar in design to a Flevobike: http://flevofanclub.ligfiets.net/ . I've heard that skilled riders can ride these without using their hands. Jane's has a Rohloff 14-speed hub and a clutch attached to the crank to activate the brake when backpedaling: it's 14-speed with coaster brake!

    Here you go:
    http://www.ohpv.org/events/albums/jf...s/IMAG0238.htm
    http://good-times.webshots.com/video...00039462xYxYMI
    Jeff Wills

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    If by pedal brakes you mean, coaster brake. Then no- it'll take you forever to stop. And recumbents you'll probably looking at a trike. I have no idea how you would get around the gear shifting/braking problem though.

    Cheapest trikes with disc brakes start out at around $1000. Fairly cheap in the 'bent world. Perhaps you might get a better response in that forum as well.
    A modified trike. Perhaps something like a coaster brake for braking and internally geared hub for simplified shifting. It would have a modified shift lever to be operated by the knee or whatever. These are just some "out of the box" ideas for an individual bike.

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