Examples of hand powered carriages can be found as far back as the 17th century, however modern day handcycling like we know now dates back to roughly the mid 1980's. Through the years, handcycle design has evolved to offer options for just about anyone looking to get into the sport.
Who can Handcycle?
Handcycling is the adaptive form of cycling that can be enjoyed by anyone with a disability that still allows some upper body functionality. Handcycling is commonly enjoyed by paraplegics, amputees and people with spina bifida, but can also be enjoyed by quadriplegics. In fact, many of the active members of the Steelwheelers handcycling team are quadriplegics.
Types of Handcycles
There are many different styles of bikes that are available in the world of handcycling, including full suspension downhill mountain bikes! The Steelwheelers organization, however, focuses more on two different styles of road bikes, one for leisure riding, and one geared more for racing.
While these two different types of road handcycles may look similar, it can be a totally different riding experience between the two. The racing style handcycles usually allow the rider to lay flatter in order to reduce wind resistance as well as lower the center of gravity for more controlled turning. This comes at a cost though, because the more laid down the rider, the lower the ability to see in all directions, so it can take some time to get used to. The recreational style handcycle is better for someone who is getting started into the sport and is just looking for a leisurely experience. Both are great for exercise and for enjoying the outdoors, and the Steelwheelers have a variety of different options for those who are interested in trying the sport!