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  1. #1
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    A One Handed Wonder

    On Tuesday of this week, I traveled to the Trek factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin to test, get fitted upon and ultimately take home with me the bike pictured below. It is a six series Trek Domane frame, with a red liquid crystal paint scheme in matte finish.

    It is beautiful.

    It has a name painted on the top tube--"Bandit", which is the name my brothers call me when we play golf together, and reflects the fact that my left arm has gone missing at the shoulder and they consider any winnings I receive to be an act of theft.

    More significantly, the Bandit represents almost a year of research and development by some very wonderful and talented people at Trek and its vendors, SRAM in particular. After many years of doing my own adaptations on various pieces of sporting equipment, I had approached them with a challenge: let's see what people who know what they are doing can come up with to create a safer, cleaner, and better performing one hand controlled bicycle. The Bandit is the result.

    I'll provide more technical details in response to questions, but in essence, the Trek engineers tweaked the climbing buttons from a Shimano di2 system to provide multiple control points, one on the hood and one on the top bar by the stem. They took apart a SRAM Red hydraulic rim brake lever, installed the di2 buttons they had fabricated, and then SRAM engineered and built a splitter so that the single lever fires both the front and rear hydraulic rim brakes.

    It goes. It shifts with the flick of a finger and without the need to take my hand off the bike. Best of all, it stops--boy does it stop. I lost my arm 39 years ago and can honestly say that this is the first time I have felt truly in control on fast descents.

    Although I suspect it is the case for many other companies, I can personally vouch for the passion Trek has for the bicycles they build and the people who ride them. I am profoundly grateful for what they have done and will continue to do now that this is on their radar screen. I think we are only a few more spins of technology away from a solution that will not require the custom building and testing done here, and can go out to other riders in kit form.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    That sounds quite interesting. What were the advantages of going with rim brakes rather than disc brakes?

  3. #3
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    A few. Not that many road frames are designed to handle discs. Trying to tap into a population that wants a road bike to look like a road bike. Discs are not UCI recognized, yet.

  4. #4
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    That's a beautiful bike, and the tech is cool. More pictures please!

  5. #5
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  6. #6
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    Is the braking power split 50/50? Have you got a chance to see the Ultegra R785 levers yet?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezalel View Post
    Is the braking power split 50/50? Have you got a chance to see the Ultegra R785 levers yet?
    Pretty close to 50/50 on power. I have the front set up a tiche wider so the rear hits the rim a fraction sooner. Neither lock up under emergency stops and the stopping distance from 40 to 0 feels like it is half what it was on my two cable through a splitter system. I have loooked at the R785--really slick and it may be a great alternative for a latter disc version, although it's going to take some doing to get me off of the rim brakes and button shifters built into the hoods.

  8. #8
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    I'm very interested to learn how you keep your balance with just one hand on the bar? Is it difficult for you? What are the methods you have devised?

  9. #9
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    Spider: wish I could give you a magic formula, but the truth is, I don't recall needing to make any dramatic changes after I lost my arm some 39 years ago. Lots of skiing, biking, running and living have intervened, which no doubt have adjusted my balance appropriately. I ride with a pretty light hand, regardless of where I am on the bar, hood or drops, and can pretty much ride all day no handed, need be. I think the key is coming to believe that a moving bike has a desire to stay moving and upright, and not trying to muscle it into a different outcome.

  10. #10
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    tigat -- I have never been able to ride without holding the bars, so I guess that's how you can be so good. I ride mostly on roads, and have a left-hand palm but no fingers, so rear braking isn't done and chainring shifting is possible but difficult. Many years ago, before brifters, I used a tandem brake lever to operate both brakes but now use regular units. My real problem is unsuspectingly hitting a pothole or bump at speed. My left hand loses grip and falls off the bar, throwing me off balance. A serious face plant two years ago stopped me from riding for awhile. Now, I'm thinking about using some sort of Velcro type arrangement to hold the palm in place. Attaching to the bar of a MTB would also help me with little bunny hops, over large roots and rocks.

  11. #11
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    Spider95: totally agree with you on the bounced off the bar concern. I am still mending a broken hip from this summer, after a fall caused by running over a rumble strip I didn't see. There are a number of adaptive solutions for non functional hands I've seen, including the one shown the attached link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHVKewGF8pY. You also might want to look at TSR Prosthetics in Boulder. The last item in their catalogue is called a Pro Cuff "Prosthosis" that attaches around the wrist and provides a platform to attach other prosthetic ends for folks with partial or weak hands. That, in combination with with a releasing prosthetic (ball, quick release, etc.) would set you on the bar very firmly, I would think.

  12. #12
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    tigat: Thanks for pointing me to TSR. I immediately contacted them asking for info and a referral to a consultant/orthopedist in my area. Most intriguing for me is the possibility of easily handling a kayak paddle, which is only borderline possible for me, although difficult enough to prevent me from doing it.
    I hesitate to mention that your broken rib has inspired me to continue road riding as I always have, despite the added possibility of serious injury. The emotional pleasure and health benefits of riding far outweigh the risk of my suffering another debilitating accident.

  13. #13
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    @tigat, thanks for steering me to this thread, incredible build and technology. I run a resort with a bike park and have a regular guest (amputee from elbow) who rides downhill mostly along with some XC, but was looking for a new method of counterbalancing the bars. I've just sent him your link.

    I have one question more on semantics... How did you decide to approach Trek and SRAM with such an out of the box built?

  14. #14
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    Robbyville: I look forward to hearing from your guy. God love the arm amputee willing to downhill.

    As for the pitch, I have a friend/former colleague pretty high up in the company. He made the intro. They have a great heart and generous budget for community projects and I guess they deemed this worthy of the effort. Trek brought in SRAM.

  15. #15
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    Great story Tigat, it's heart warming to hear that one of the big 'faceless corporations' have that attitude. Hope you're digging the bike .

  16. #16
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    tigat-forgive the terrible pun
    but I'm surprised none of the 3 wheel recumbent folks did try to twist your arm to become a bent rider.
    They -recumbent folks-are real proselytizers-(not as bad as VC vs FRAP).
    You obviously didn't go that route.
    A 3 wheeled recumbent crossed my path a while back-
    It was fun to ride-comfortable-probably easy to adapt for one arm-
    but it was bulky-and I like to sit higher so I can see where I am going.
    You learned to ride before you lost your arm?

    Nice bike-yeah I like Trek-still a USA company-glad to hear they came thru.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuyWood View Post
    Great story Tigat, it's heart warming to hear that one of the big 'faceless corporations' have that attitude. Hope you're digging the bike .
    Totally digging it. Closing in on 800 miles so far in about 6 weeks of riding it, even nursing the hip I broke in mid July.

  18. #18
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    Closing in on 800 miles so far in about 6 weeks...
    ...even nursing the hip I broke in mid July.
    Wow, that's a real rule #5 .
    Last edited by GuyWood; 11-16-13 at 02:13 PM.

  19. #19
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    Great to hear thanks. I actually have a relationship with Trek in that I buy my rental bikes through them for our downhill fleet and you're right their outreach programs have been good. I actually meant to say that I passed on the link to the prosthetics company in Denver to my guest.

    He's a pretty awesome rider with an interesting set up, below is a link to a video he did riding here, but you can't really tell that he's an amputee until roughly 1.3 min in. the trail he is on is an intermediate jump trail.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaAAE84crQU

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
    tigat-forgive the terrible pun
    but I'm surprised none of the 3 wheel recumbent folks did try to twist your arm to become a bent rider.
    They -recumbent folks-are real proselytizers-(not as bad as VC vs FRAP).
    You obviously didn't go that route.
    .....

    Nice bike-yeah I like Trek-still a USA company-glad to hear they came thru.
    When I lost my arm, I was part of a group of ski racers and speed skaters who were just starting to use road cycling as our summer conditioning sport. It was pretty much go fast and stay upright or go home. I chose the latter. The only things bent were the steel bikes unfortunate enough to be run over by a car, and 3 wheeled vehicles were the exclusive province of toddlers.

    Had my first bent experience a few months ago. Bought a stationary model to start rehab on the aforementioned broken hip. Might have earned more love from me if the darned thing actually got me someplace, but it worked me hard enough to earn my respect.

    And yes, Trek in this instance demonstrated the traits that I hope would characterize all of the creators and purveyors of cycles. Being originally from Wisconsin myself, I thought it was pretty cool what a few guys from cow country could come up with.

  21. #21
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    Right

    I prize my Trek 950-made in the USA! Trek is a good company-good folks.
    I had to sell a fancy 3 wheeled bent for a friend of my wife-it was her husband's-he passed-and he was a bike nut,
    It was a pricy I sold for it $1900 used on ebay- two front wheels-light nice bike really.
    Once I get really old-75 or so-I will switch to one of them.

  22. #22
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    That sounds quite interesting.

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