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  1. #1
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    Walking quadriplegic, where to start with bike shopping

    I'd like to get my son a bike to ride around the neighborhood (flat), and I am looking for advice on where to start shopping.

    His physical specs: He is 19 years old, 6' tall, and fairly fit from regular PT. He's a quadriplegic, but it's incomplete, with greater mobility but less sensitivity on his left side, and reduced mobility and increased sensitivity on his right side. He can walk and run (just doesn't do it the same way the rest of us do, since there is some paralysis throughout). His greatest deficit is his right hand (he can grab things with it, but can't let go...good for braking I guess?)

    He needs:
    • an upright position (rods in neck)
    • hand brake (can't manage coaster brake at this time)
    • feet flat on ground when start and stop

    He managed a ride on a normal mountain bike last summer with his physical therapist, but felt out of control and couldn't brake.

    Unfortunately, I need to keep the cost down if possible, and I know nothing about building a bike.

    Any suggestions what to look at for him?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    There are lots of brands of bicycle with a "crank forward" design that would satisfy the upright sitting and flat foot on ground requirements. You indicate that he needs hand brakes but "couldn't brake" on the regular mountain bike - what was the nature of the difficulty?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    There are lots of brands of bicycle with a "crank forward" design that would satisfy the upright sitting and flat foot on ground requirements. You indicate that he needs hand brakes but "couldn't brake" on the regular mountain bike - what was the nature of the difficulty?
    I think he was concentrating so hard on the basics of peddling and steering, and couldn't remember which wheel he'd be braking if he used the left hand. He didn't want to go tip over teakettle just doing the front brake. In a perfect world, his left hand would be able to brake both wheels.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dashzap View Post
    I think he was concentrating so hard on the basics of peddling and steering, and couldn't remember which wheel he'd be braking if he used the left hand. He didn't want to go tip over teakettle just doing the front brake. In a perfect world, his left hand would be able to brake both wheels.
    No problem with just applying the front brake as long as you don't grab it so hard you lock up (or almost lock up) the front wheel - I rarely use my back brake. But there are brake levers that will simultaneously pull on two cables to apply two brakes. Our tandem bike has one lever like that since the bike has two rim brakes plus a hub brake for long descents and only two levers. A good bike shop should be able to modify a bike to have both brakes connected to one lever. Does he have good hand strength and control in his left hand?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    No problem with just applying the front brake as long as you don't grab it so hard you lock up (or almost lock up) the front wheel - I rarely use my back brake. But there are brake levers that will simultaneously pull on two cables to apply two brakes. Our tandem bike has one lever like that since the bike has two rim brakes plus a hub brake for long descents and only two levers. A good bike shop should be able to modify a bike to have both brakes connected to one lever. Does he have good hand strength and control in his left hand?
    Yes, his left hand is pretty good. Thank you so much!

  6. #6
    Member GoHorhay's Avatar
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    Wow. I'm sorry for replying so late but I just saw this post. I broke C5/6 back in 2001 and my condition is very similar to your son but in reverse. My left side has the weakness throughout and my left hand grips OK but has difficulty opening back up. My right side is stronger but has the sensory issues (no hot/cold or pain).

    I'm 13 years post injury and just discovered cycling last year. I'm fortunate in that I haven't needed any modifications to my road bike. I've just sort of figured out what I can and can't do and have improved with practice.

    I wish I could offer some advice. Good luck! He's not alone!
    '11 Specialized Tarmac Comp Rival

  7. #7
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    I was thinking either a crank forward or a recumbent with upright seating- flat foot stops and no chance of an endo. Something like this:



    A.D Carson at Recycled Recumbents makes these.
    https://sites.google.com/site/recycledrecumbents/home
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

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