Odds & sods

So what does it take to get back on the road?

At its most basic getting back on the road in a drive-from-chair, automatic sidecar or trike has three requirements:

  • chair access and lockdown, ramp raising;
  • trunk (upper body) stability / other safety devices (seatbelts and helmets); and
  • throttle / brake and indicator adaptions.

Access:

With a power chair or sufficient shoulder strength, wheelchair access is a matter of powering up a ramp using, hopefully, well positioned grab handles. An example is access into the Martin Conquest although the Conquest is also an example where access is made difficult by having a high internal floor required for axle and diff clearence.

An alternative is to winch yourself into the outfit and the link HERE describes a wonderful home built winch based on a worm drive gearbox that serves the purpose of also locking down the wheelchair.

Some riders don’t bother locking the chair down, personally I find that any chair movement disconcerting and would never ride with the chair flopping about  like a wet mullet. Commercial lockdown systems intended for van could no doubt be adapted.

Ramp raising can be as simple as a rope pulling a spring assisted ramp or as complicated as an electric linear actuator. Choice comes down to money, what is available and reliability. A rope may be crude, but it is unlikely to ever get you stuck in an unrepairable situation!

Safety:

A stack lid is required in most countries and probably a good idea anyway. They can be buggers to get on if your hands don’t work and doing up clasps, near impossible. Weight should be considered if your neck muscles are weak, having a kg or two on your nog can put alot of strain on your neck when you hit a pot hole (as you will).

Without trunk muscles, upper body stability can be equally important for quads. My own harness featured HERE has ridden with me for 80,000km and I don’t feel comfortable, or safe, without it.

Controls:

Ok, now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes. Indicators are important but throttle and brake adaption essential if your hands don’t work. Both throttle and brake can be run on either hand grip if your disability results in different function left vs right. Charlie, whose trike is featured elsewhere, has a good left hand and runs his linked and vacume boosted brakes to the left with no further modification required. He still uses a RH throttle and gets by with a throttle rocker, the ten dollar piece of plastic used by many bikers.

My own right hand is better and my throttle and brake levers operate by wrist flexure. They are not ideal, the one interacts with the other beyond 2/3 throttle, but you can get by.

Ok, that’s disability motorcycling 101, sub-pages will touch on modifications in more detail.