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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Multiple Sclerosis and bicycles

    So I've got a question about MS and bicycles. A bit of a background first.

    My mom is retiring from her job of 20 years in May. Over the past year, she has expressed a great desire to get a bicycle and start riding around after she saw how much fun I had rediscovering bicycles last year.

    She keeps reminiscing about how her and my dad would bike around Hawaii when they lived there 40 years ago, and I'm thinking I (and my siblings pitching in) should buy her a bicycle as a retirement gift.

    Now here's the issue; my dad has MS. It's not something we talk about openly, in fact I only found out myself a few years back despite him having it for longer than my entire life. He has the best kind, relapsing-remitting, and hasn't had an attack in quite some time, however my mom has hinted that his physical fitness is declining. I would like for them to be able to bicycle around together now that they'll both be retired, so I would like to get them a pair of bicycles, but I am uncertain of how my dads balance would be on a traditional bicycle.

    So does anyone have any experience in what kind of special needs need to be met for someone with MS? I read that Sheldon Brown had to go with a tricycle recumbent at one point because he could no longer balance on a bicycle, so I am thinking of getting them tadpole recumbents. Am I on the right path?

    This is such a tough position to be in because my family is very private about issues like this and I am not comfortable asking what his physical state is in. He doesn't seem like he has balance problems whenever I visit, but again he's hidden his MS from me and my siblings for nearly 30 years so it's not like I'm very good at deducing these things anyway. This is compounded by the fact that it would be a gift and I'd hate to give away what I'm getting them by inadvertently asking the wrong questions.

    Any advice would be marvelous, thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Neil_B
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    Hmm. One of the people who 'inspired' me to learn to ride has MS. His diagnosis was only a couple of years old, however, when he inadvertedly showed me riding was fun. I understand balance is one of the last things to go for a person with MS, and that can vary from person to person.

    My suggestion is to consult the one person who knows your father best about his health and balance. If your mother doesn't want to discuss it, just go ahead with the trikes if you think they will use them. Remind them, and yourself, that trikes are ridden by able bodied people too:

  3. #3
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    I ride Bike MS in my area and there are always a number of riders out there who are living with MS. Check with your local MS Society office, especially those people involved with putting on Bike MS. I am sure they could put you in contact with cyclists in your area to help you out.

    Here's the link for Orchard Park, NY event this year: http://bikenyr.nationalmssociety.org...18093&pg=entry
    May your tires or beer never be flat.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Hmm. One of the people who 'inspired' me to learn to ride has MS. His diagnosis was only a couple of years old, however, when he inadvertedly showed me riding was fun. I understand balance is one of the last things to go for a person with MS, and that can vary from person to person.

    My suggestion is to consult the one person who knows your father best about his health and balance. If your mother doesn't want to discuss it, just go ahead with the trikes if you think they will use them. Remind them, and yourself, that trikes are ridden by able bodied people too:
    Oh I in no way intended to imply that trikes are only for invalids, I just figured with potential balance issues, 3 wheels would be better suited for them. I am almost certain that from a technical perspective my dad would love having a trike because it's more complex (he's a tinkerer). My mom on the other hand may be concerned at first because it's "different" (she tends to be a bit closed-minded when dealing with anything out of the ordinary), but I'm certain she would in a short time see the benefit of having a bicycle that easier to mount and dismount if she has arthritis in her knees as I suspect she does (again, has never said anything about it, but I've noticed how she goes out of her way to avoid going up or down stairs and actually gets agitated when she needs something from her basement... communication has never been a big part of my family life, heh).

    That being said, the only concerns I *do* have about recumbents/trikes are twofold:

    1) Generally higher cost for the same features as a diamond frame bicycle. Not a huge deal for me but since my siblings are a part of this and they are both unemployed, it would be asking a lot of them to pitch in for expensive bikes. On the other hand I won't need top-of-the-line bikes, I don't think either of them are going to be doing any serious fitness work with them, they'll probably end up doing almost entirely casual rides on bike paths. So I suppose a lower-end 8 speed would be good, thus taking a lot out of the potential cost.
    2) Maintenance. I don't know any bike shops in the area that even stocks recumbents, so I'm wondering about potential maintenance. I suppose a good bike shop would be able to fix recumbents as most of the hardware is similar, but I'm certain there will be extra fees involved for needing to order special parts in the event of a major malfunction. I would hate to saddle them with these costs.

    Other than that I've always been, how you say, "tri-curious" myself.

    I'll see what more info I can gather though.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
    I ride Bike MS in my area and there are always a number of riders out there who are living with MS. Check with your local MS Society office, especially those people involved with putting on Bike MS. I am sure they could put you in contact with cyclists in your area to help you out.

    Here's the link for Orchard Park, NY event this year: http://bikenyr.nationalmssociety.org...18093&pg=entry
    Neat! I was looking at Bike MS last year and they didn't offer any Buffalo rides, and I couldn't logistically make it to the Finger Lakes ride, so I was kind of bummed out. That's great news that they've expanded, I don't think I would have known about this!

  6. #6
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Oh I in no way intended to imply that trikes are only for invalids, I just figured with potential balance issues, 3 wheels would be better suited for them. I am almost certain that from a technical perspective my dad would love having a trike because it's more complex (he's a tinkerer). My mom on the other hand may be concerned at first because it's "different" (she tends to be a bit closed-minded when dealing with anything out of the ordinary), but I'm certain she would in a short time see the benefit of having a bicycle that easier to mount and dismount if she has arthritis in her knees as I suspect she does (again, has never said anything about it, but I've noticed how she goes out of her way to avoid going up or down stairs and actually gets agitated when she needs something from her basement... communication has never been a big part of my family life, heh).

    That being said, the only concerns I *do* have about recumbents/trikes are twofold:

    1) Generally higher cost for the same features as a diamond frame bicycle. Not a huge deal for me but since my siblings are a part of this and they are both unemployed, it would be asking a lot of them to pitch in for expensive bikes. On the other hand I won't need top-of-the-line bikes, I don't think either of them are going to be doing any serious fitness work with them, they'll probably end up doing almost entirely casual rides on bike paths. So I suppose a lower-end 8 speed would be good, thus taking a lot out of the potential cost.
    2) Maintenance. I don't know any bike shops in the area that even stocks recumbents, so I'm wondering about potential maintenance. I suppose a good bike shop would be able to fix recumbents as most of the hardware is similar, but I'm certain there will be extra fees involved for needing to order special parts in the event of a major malfunction. I would hate to saddle them with these costs.

    Other than that I've always been, how you say, "tri-curious" myself.

    I'll see what more info I can gather though.

    TerraTrike Rover is about 1K, disassembles for transport, and keeps the rider more upright than most trikes. Here we see a challenged individual in the seat. One doesn't need to wear Lycra on the Rover:


  7. #7
    astro
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Oh I in no way intended to imply that trikes are only for invalids, I just figured with potential balance issues, 3 wheels would be better suited for them. I am almost certain that from a technical perspective my dad would love having a trike because it's more complex (he's a tinkerer). My mom on the other hand may be concerned at first because it's "different" (she tends to be a bit closed-minded when dealing with anything out of the ordinary), but I'm certain she would in a short time see the benefit of having a bicycle that easier to mount and dismount if she has arthritis in her knees as I suspect she does (again, has never said anything about it, but I've noticed how she goes out of her way to avoid going up or down stairs and actually gets agitated when she needs something from her basement... communication has never been a big part of my family life, heh).

    One thing you might want to be careful of: recumbent trikes are very low to the ground. You need to be sure your Mom can get in and out of the trike, that her knees will allow her to do that. There are more upright trikes available if low to the ground is a problem.

    Another thing, if you are pedaling a recumbent trike, and your foot comes off the pedal and hits the ground, it's possible that it could stick and get run over by the seat. (Called "leg suck!") I own a tandem recumbent trike and just had a knee replacement. I used the trike to get back to biking. As a precaution (since my leg was weak), I put a bungee from the toe clip, around the heel and back to the toe clip to be sure my foot stayed in the toe clips. Other people use clipless pedals to be sure they stay in.

    I guess I sound kind of discouraging. I don't mean to, trikes are great fun - just be sure you get the right one!

    - Ed

  8. #8
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    It doesn't hurt to keep in mind that trikes come in upright versions too:


  9. #9
    Senior Member JonnyHK's Avatar
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    http://www.msmelbournecycle.org.au/a...do-we-ride.asp

    Friend of mine (with MS) races internationally on a tricycle. It can be done!

  10. #10
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    So I've got a question about MS and bicycles. A bit of a background first.

    My mom is retiring from her job of 20 years in May. Over the past year, she has expressed a great desire to get a bicycle and start riding around after she saw how much fun I had rediscovering bicycles last year.

    She keeps reminiscing about how her and my dad would bike around Hawaii when they lived there 40 years ago, and I'm thinking I (and my siblings pitching in) should buy her a bicycle as a retirement gift.

    Now here's the issue; my dad has MS. It's not something we talk about openly, in fact I only found out myself a few years back despite him having it for longer than my entire life. He has the best kind, relapsing-remitting, and hasn't had an attack in quite some time, however my mom has hinted that his physical fitness is declining. I would like for them to be able to bicycle around together now that they'll both be retired, so I would like to get them a pair of bicycles, but I am uncertain of how my dads balance would be on a traditional bicycle.

    So does anyone have any experience in what kind of special needs need to be met for someone with MS? I read that Sheldon Brown had to go with a tricycle recumbent at one point because he could no longer balance on a bicycle, so I am thinking of getting them tadpole recumbents. Am I on the right path?

    This is such a tough position to be in because my family is very private about issues like this and I am not comfortable asking what his physical state is in. He doesn't seem like he has balance problems whenever I visit, but again he's hidden his MS from me and my siblings for nearly 30 years so it's not like I'm very good at deducing these things anyway. This is compounded by the fact that it would be a gift and I'd hate to give away what I'm getting them by inadvertently asking the wrong questions.

    Any advice would be marvelous, thanks in advance!
    What did you decide on?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    That being said, the only concerns I *do* have about recumbents/trikes are twofold:

    1) Generally higher cost for the same features as a diamond frame bicycle.
    Remember that buying the wrong bike will be more expensive than buying the right bike, since buying the wrong bike probably means you'll then have to buy the right bike.

    See http://www.bythom.com/support.htm for a great example of this (from my other expensive hobby).

  12. #12
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    My wife has had MS for 30+ years and has multiple issues including poor balance and one very weak leg. Last year I bought her a Electra Townie, as it allows a reasonably proper cycle stroke, but the rider can still put both feet on the ground when stopped. To this I added a Bionx Pedelec kit, which helps compensate for the weak leg and always allows her her the piece of mind that she can always "go electric" to get home if she tires out.

    I think the longest ride she did in one day was 20k. Since then, a friend in the UK has done the same thing and he is out cycling with his three young sons on a regular basis.

    Best wishes on your search for a solution - I'm pleased with mine.
    Last edited by googlie; 04-26-12 at 10:04 PM. Reason: missing info
    'I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.'
    Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of the C++ programming language

    Electra Townie and Kuwahara Shasta

  13. #13
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    There is an awful lot to be said for Alaskanb3arcub traditional trike.
    Granted many folks see them as maw maw granpaw bikes
    But
    Nice upright riding position-easy to get on off easy to touch down-good view of the road
    No balance problems
    Easy to set up basket-trips to grocery drug store
    Very visible
    The low end ones are cheap-used-and readily available-$150-$250.

    The weight and cheapo parts can be worked around- better wheels make every bike much better/lighter-even boat anchors respond to good wheels. I suspect someone probably makes a quality upright traditional trike-just regear if you live in a hilly area.
    Charlie

  14. #14
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    I am 28 was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting MS Dec 2010 and am on treatment. I ride a road bike or my new Jamis Bosanova adventure bike, i have over 1100miles this year and rode just over 3000miles last year. My left leg is a tad weaker than my right and it is not very well coordinated. I really have to concentrate on my left ankle and left leg to get fluid movement. I also have vision and balance problems, mostly makes it hard to peek over my shoulders and I don't trust myself in a tight paceline cause I tend to veer a bit. I experience a lot of what is called "MS fatigue", which, for me, means that my cognitive function will suffer when I am under either mental stress or am forced to think very hard. I also get pretty dizzy on the top of really big climbs.
    I have met quite a few other people with MS who cycle, upright or recumbent or trike. Depending on his specific symptoms, he could benefit from cycling on so many levels. For myself, my balance issues are less severe riding than standing. It is possible that your dad could do fine on an upright. I would think the best thing to do would be to take them to a shop to be properly fitted and be able to test ride.

  15. #15
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    Hello, I have RRMS and am a paraplegic because of it. I also have vision and balance issues. I was reaserching a trike before I lost the functions from the waist down. If you are only experiensing one sided weekness and ballence issues a trike is great choice. when you look at them there a few things to concider. One is foot placement. some trkes have the feet high and the body in a more laied down position. This will be less stable in the bike. Try and find one that the pedals are flat with the ride. this puts you in a more uprite position so you have less strain inorder to ballence. Second is steering. some have direct steering, where the grips are conested to the steering arm strait out in front of you. There require your arms to be raised for most of the riding and fatigue can come into play. the other type is steering below the seal. This allows your hands to be down at your sides and less fatige is an issue. caution though, watch what you ride over since all of your steering is below the frame. Last is check the gears. If you dont plan to ride long distances limit the number gears as you wont need them.
    I am currently riding a quickie shark hand cycle that I am renting. Check with your local disable sports, they may have a few different kinds that you could try out before you take the plunge.

  16. #16
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    I have rode now in 11 MS bike rides. I have MS now but not when I started. My miles have depleted from 150 to 45 in this last ride. Mostly my legs give out so I need help getting off my bike or I will fall. I am shopping for a recumbant so I won't fall anymore. Naturally heat from riding makes my condition worse.
    A recumbant is the best and I as yet can't afford it. But I managed to sign up for number 12 but I can't ride my 12 speed anymore.

  17. #17
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    As far as the heat issue I ride using a cooling vest. If you go to http://www.activemsers.org/ Dave has reviewed most of the vests on the market. I use a vest made in the Netherlands from IZZI body coling. It can b frozen and last for 3 hours of freezing and 72 hours oe evaporative cooling. I would definatley suget using one, It has made a world of difference for me. Hope this helps.

  18. #18
    Newbie Carbontrikes's Avatar
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    Trike can be the answer

    As many already have mentioned the trike can be the answer to neck and back problem, and still get good exercise as on an ordinary bike. But without any pain and with a nice smile on your lips.

  19. #19
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    I too have MS and I've kept cycling by buying an electric (pedal assist) bike. Given your dad's balance issue, I'd go for an electric trike; they're awesome and he'll regain confidence by riding. You can even pimp it out with a racing seat and handlebars. I don't ride a trike yet, but I know the day will come and I'm not going to hesitate.

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