Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

Son Missing 4 Left Fingers

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Old 08-13-17, 08:04 PM
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RFEngineer
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Son Missing 4 Left Fingers

I would like to get my 3 yo son into bike riding. He was born missing the 4 fingers on his left hand. He will be able to grab and hold onto handlebars with that hand, but I don't think he'll be able to squeeze a brake lever.

I am just trying to get some ideas of how his bike riding might progress. Having redundant brakes is appealing to me. I know coaster brakes would be a 2nd brake, in addition to a right-hand actuated brake. Any other options? A y-cable from the right brake level as the only brake seems like not that great of an idea.

Eventually, electronic shifting might help him if he gets into cycling as he grows up. Any thoughts on shifting for him as grows up?

Thanks. I am just looking for ideas about his progress over the years.
Alan
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Old 08-13-17, 08:38 PM
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You're putting the cart a little ahead of the horse aren't you? Most young kid's bikes use coaster brakes.

You can't run a coaster brake with a standard derailleur. But, there are some very nice internal gear hubs with coaster brakes, I think at least up to 8 speed.

Of course, "fixed gear" is also popular, frequently using only a single brake.

I agree, doing Y-wire brakes might be sub-optimal, but is a possibility.

Do you have a photo of the left hand? Thumb + Metacarpals? Or some odd joined finger?

Another issue to consider would be shifters. My guess is that road bike brake-shifters could be a problem for him on the left (right should be OK). Otherwise he'll likely be adept enough at using the left hand to handle downtube shifters, stem shifters, or bar-end shifters with either hand. Even various types of MTB shifters.

I can imagine some commercially available handicap accessible Di2 or EPS shifters coming out by the time your kid becomes a teenager.

One advantage of stem and downtube shifters is that they can technically be shifted with either hand. So, your son might be able keep the right hand on the bars (and brake), and shift left-handed.

1x shifters will also be gaining in popularity over time, so one could dispense with the front derailleur (if not already using an internal gear hub).

Keep in mind that your son will be living his whole life with the small left hand. He will likely become very adept with using it in creative ways. I'd recommend that you encourage him to use it A LOT. He may find a way to hold onto the bars and brake at the same time with the left hand.
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Old 08-13-17, 09:00 PM
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The simplest solution (for now) is a coaster brake + a front hand brake. This setup has been SOP for decades and will serve until he outgrows coaster brakes.

When he's ready you can fit hand brakes with a lever that pulls two cables. These are common in tandem use and work well, but require careful fine tuning and maintenance to maintain good front/rear proportioning.

When he's older there's the option of hydraulic discs. These can be run off a single lever with a Y connector. It's not ideal to run 2 brakes off a single master cylinder because there may be issues with the travel needed. Also, you can't proportion brakes with a common master cylinder, so both will be working equally likely causing premature lockup of the rear wheel. However, that can be compensated by using different sized rotors, so long term, hydraulics may provide the best, most serviceable solution.

OTOH - things change fast, and with your son only 3 years old now, there's an excellent chance that technical advances may make everything simpler by the time he's ready.
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Old 08-13-17, 09:56 PM
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Hydraulics are a good idea. There are moped levers that should push a little extra fluid, but would be designed for flat bars.

I would assume that not all brands and models have identical master/slave cylinders, so you might be able to at least do rudimentary proportioning by choosing a smaller slave cylinder in the rear, and a larger one in the front. And, of course, as FBinNY mentioned, a small rear disc, and large front disc.

Trickier still, but a tiny air bubble could also reduce the braking force at one caliper.

Then, the kid will have to learn the best way to position his weight on the bike for safe braking.

It is possible that an electric brake could be made in the future. Electric trailer brakes (automotive) have an ingenious feature that the magnet acts on the drum creating drag which in turn activates the brake shoes, and thus creates braking force proportional to speed, and reduces locking.

One could also have dual modal braking on a single wheel if needed (rim + either disc or drum), and also coaster/fixie.
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Old 08-14-17, 04:49 AM
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There was a fellow riding with one arm during an road endurance event a couple of weeks ago. Wish I had paid closer attention to how his bike was setup...I know he had a compact crank as he stopped a couple of times to move the chain. Your son is young and who knows what they'll come up with in the next few years, but if I were to do it today, maybe a 1x with rear disc brake actuated by shifter and brake lever on his strong side? I weigh 200 and my rear Disc will stop me if I have my water bottle up, etc.

There are a couple of motorcycles out there that run front and rear brakes off one master cylinder using a proportioning valve (70s-80s Moto Guzzi for one)...not sure if that would be convertible for a bike, but leads one to wonder what might be out there in industry that might be compatible with fluid, adjustable, and compact enough for a bicycle.

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Old 08-14-17, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
until he outgrows coaster brakes.
If.
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Old 08-14-17, 07:15 AM
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I think you will be surprised at how adept your young man will be with his born deficiency.
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Old 08-14-17, 09:21 AM
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Simplistically and generally, I'd be thinking of the front brake on the right side (like they do in Ireland and the UK, and for motorcycles), and a thumb brake on the right side for the rear, like MotoGP riders use (because they can't use their foot for the rear brake in right turns, due to the placement of the foot).
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Old 08-16-17, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The simplest solution (for now) is a coaster brake + a front hand brake. This setup has been SOP for decades and will serve until he outgrows coaster brakes.

Wow! You just sent me back to my pre-teen years. I had a red, white and blue Free Spirit banana seat bike from Sears with exactly that setup.
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Old 08-16-17, 07:30 AM
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Most kid's bikes have a coaster brake without a hand brake.

However, another option would be to set up a coaster brake with a LEFT hand brake... for his BAD hand.

Get him using that hand as much as possible from as early as possible.
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Old 08-17-17, 03:31 PM
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The SureStop system seems like something the OP should be aware of:

SURESTOP Brake System | Safer, Smarter, Simpler Braking

It might be helpful in this instance. Guardian makes some 20-inch models.
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Old 08-25-17, 07:53 AM
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For a 3 year old, any bike should work as has been discussed as the whole thing can work with no handlebar controls (ie, backpedal to break)

But a cheap solution to shifting as he gets older might be as simple as taking the shifter on his bad side and installing it upside down on his good side. You'll need to finagle it a bit to make it fit, but if you install it upside down the levers should be facing the right direction. (The numbers on the gear selector will be upside down....but win some lose some)

As long as he can hold the handlebars with his bad hand enough that he can loosen his grip with his good hand, that puts all the controls on the good side. Front and back shifters and at least 1 brake (could even put both brake levers on 1 side and zip tie them together so they function as one) all on 1 handlebar.

It's a a clunky sollution but it costs no extra money as every bike comes with all the parts. It would probably be impossible for an experienced rider who's spent 20 years riding with the controls shared on both sides, but if your kid grows up riding that way it will feel normal to him.
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Old 08-28-17, 09:20 PM
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I'm pretty much in the same boat. I have a minimal left hand with no grip.

I dropped into this forum to post a thread about my eTap bike, saw this and figured I'd contribute.

I'm 63 and have been a serious cyclist since the 70s. I've ridden all my life.

A few thoughts: Sure he can ride. At his age the coaster brake idea is great. After that put the front brake on the right and don't worry about the rear. Really. It's worked for me for ever. I did add a cross brake lever to the right side for the rear just in case a cable broke, which has never happened, but I ride a lot of very steep mountains and it seemed prudent. I tried dual cable levers, but it never works as well as just a front brake (on a road bike)

On my mountain bike with flat bars I have a velcro strap I slip my hand through so I don't bounce off the bars. I don't find it necessary on a road bike.

I hope the technology I just wrote about on my blog trickles down to reasonable prices by the time your son is ready enjoy it. Read this what I just finished doing. Read it.

Curtis Corlew in Bicycle Land: SRAM eTap, Praxis 48-32 cranks and the perfect bike ?a review

And don't worry. He'll figure out how to do more than you imagine. I tie my shoes. I play guitar. I ride. I've played baseball. I play tennis three times a week. All with no left hand. And it's no big deal.

PM me if you'd like to chat on the phone about this.

p.s.
Positive Dad karma points to you.
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Old 06-29-18, 02:17 PM
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Sorry to revive an old thread.

My wife can hang on to left grip on her mt bike but can't let go. Same goes if she tries to use left hand brake. Can you say over the bars.

She is now getting back to riding steeper trails and finds the back brake is not strong enough/not enough traction.

Does anyone have experience with a combined hydraulic braking system. Current brakes are Shimano SLX.

Big thanks for any help.
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Old 06-29-18, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Team Fab View Post
My wife can hang on to left grip on her mt bike but can't let go. Same goes if she tries to use left hand brake. Can you say over the bars.
One option you might consider is a right/left brake reversal. Allow the best brake modulation with the right hand going to the front. Then, inducing a skid with the left rear might not be so bad.

There are several options for combined mechanical brakes including dual cable levers, or cable splitters. You could do cables to hydraullic (TRP/HY/...)

I've thought about symmetrical single actuated hydraulic brakes with respect to trikes (a good place to start your hunt).

The biggest problem with a simple line splitter is matching the master and slave capacity. I had thought maybe a moped master cylinder???

However, a quick search on the web about hydraulic trikes leads one to the the Tektro Auriga Twin.

https://www.bike24.com/p2127047.html

It looks like they aren't particularly cheap, but perhaps less expensive than a few trips to the dentist.
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Old 07-02-18, 11:36 AM
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Magura makes a Hydraulic rim brake.. I have a set on a bike that is now 14 years old..

Being a closed system, in theory 1 lever can run both brakes,
it, the single master volume is split into 4 slave cylinder volumes.. then..

Magura HS 22 & 33 already has 2 slave cylinders per wheel, each on V brake posts..
1st piston has a balance tube to the 2nd piston where the bleed screw is.

you'd have to daisy chain 3 in the line before the last one..



....
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Old 07-02-18, 11:40 AM
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but , .. remember Physics .. the front brake is always going to be more powerful, even if both are applied equally,
because a decelerating mass is forcing itself forward. unweighting rear wheel ..
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Old 07-02-18, 12:03 PM
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There are hydraulic brake proportioning valves. Mostly designed for foot brakes (vehicles). I don't know if they would apply to bikes, but the concept is certainly valid.

https://www.jegs.com/i/JEGS/555/63020/10002/-1
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Old 07-03-18, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
One option you might consider is a right/left brake reversal. Allow the best brake modulation with the right hand going to the front. Then, inducing a skid with the left rear might not be so bad.

There are several options for combined mechanical brakes including dual cable levers, or cable splitters. You could do cables to hydraullic (TRP/HY/...)

I've thought about symmetrical single actuated hydraulic brakes with respect to trikes (a good place to start your hunt).

The biggest problem with a simple line splitter is matching the master and slave capacity. I had thought maybe a moped master cylinder???

However, a quick search on the web about hydraulic trikes leads one to the the Tektro Auriga Twin.

https://www.bike24.com/p2127047.html

It looks like they aren't particularly cheap, but perhaps less expensive than a few trips to the dentist.
Looks like we will give this a try. We will try to adjust the brake power by increasing/reducing disk size.

Thanks this was a really good find that did not come up in my searches.
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Old 07-03-18, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Team Fab View Post
Looks like we will give this a try. We will try to adjust the brake power by increasing/reducing disk size.

Thanks this was a really good find that did not come up in my searches.
Post a review once you get them installed and try them out.
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Old 07-05-18, 12:00 PM
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drum brake hubs are less severe than front discs..

they can, as I've found , throw you on the ground


by stopping, just the bike, while you keep moving
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Old 07-10-18, 09:00 AM
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Last year I led one of the groups participating in a club century. One guy in my group was missing most of his right forearm and had no right hand. He had some sort of system that allowed him to operate both brakes with one hand. He also had a 2x drivetrain operated with one hand, but I think there were dual controls for that. Wish I could give specifics, but I didn't question the guy about the mechanics of his setup. Just wanted to note that there are solutions out there.
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Old 07-10-18, 11:57 AM
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One thing about hydraulic splitters... It is quite possible that if one brake lost fluid, both would lose power.

I'm not seeing how the Tektro levers above deal with that issue. In cars, in theory there should be some front to rear isolation, although it frequently doesn't work well. Plus a mechanical backup brake (Parking/Emergency Brake).
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Old 09-09-18, 03:31 PM
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Thumb activated brake lever.

SRAM Two-Axis brake lever situated on the inboard side of a back-swept handlebar.
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