Handcycling Print E-mail

What is it? A handcycle is a type of human powered land vehicle powered by the arms rather than the legs, as on a bicycle. Most handcycles are tricycle in form, with two coasting rear wheels and one steerable powered front wheel.

Many manufacturers have designed and released hand-powered recumbent trikes, or handcycles. Handcycles are a regular sight at HPV meets and are beginning to be seen on the streets. These usually follow a delta design with front wheels driven by standard derailleur gearing powered by hand cranks. Brake levers are usually mounted on the hand holds, which are usually set with no offset rather than the 180° of pedal cranks. The entire crank assembly and the front wheel turn together, allowing the rider to steer and crank simultaneously.

handcycling 2Thanks to modern technology, handcycles come in a variety of styles, making them accessible to people of all abilities, including many persons with disabilities.

Fork steer handcycles represent the majority of handcycles sold. They work well for both low and high-level injuries, and most have adjustable footrests, seat angle, and come with a variety of gearing, wheel and tire configurations depending on intended use: racing, recreation or touring.

Lean steer handcycles are another type of handcycle. In this type of handcycle the rider leans into the turn to steer. There is a longer learning curve with lean steer handcycles, and they are significantly less stable at high speed. The lean steer system feels similar to mono skiing, using your whole body to steer the handcycle. Lean steer handcycles can work well for lower-level injuries, although some athletes with high-level disability use them.

Who can play? Anyone who is interested in biking with their upper body. This includes but not limited to the following: SCI, MS, Spina Bifida, Amputations, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, and Able Bodied.

History- Handcycling is a form of adaptive cycling that enables athletes of all abilities to ride a “bike” exclusively using the upper body. Handcycling is also one of the newest competitions at the Paralympic Games, where it made its first appearance in Athens, Greece in 2004, although it was first included at the World Championships in 1998.

Since the inclusion of handcycling as part of the IPC Cycling program in 1998, U.S. Handcycling has been involved in the development of the sport. Originally formed under the name "United States Handcycle Federation," the organization operates under both names and is often referred to using the acronym "USHF." Although the make-up of “disabled cycling” in this country and abroad has undergone serious change over the last nine years, the goal of U.S. Handcycling as a cycling organization dedicated to creating opportunities for wheelchair athletes as well as furthering the integration of cyclists with all abilities, still holds true.

handcycling 1U.S. Handcycling was created as a national governing body under the umbrella of Wheelchair Sports, USA (WSUSA) in 1998. Simultaneously however, U.S. Handcycling also set-up shop as a standalone 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, based in Colorado.

Working with Disabled Sport Organizations (DSOs) WSUSA, Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), and the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), U.S. Handcycling fielded a national team for IPC international competition, and created a calendar of national events to identify American handcycling talent. The program was very successful initially, and that success was highlighted by more than 20 IPC handcycling medals – including five World titles – from 1998 to 2002, as well as integration within major U.S. cycling races.

In 2002, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) created a new division, U.S. Paralympics. The creation of the U.S. Paralympics marked a major shift in the structure of Paralympic sport in the USA, and the USOC identified U.S. Paralympics as the authority for elite national Paralympic athletes and teams, as well as selection competitions. As a result, WSUSA no longer managed elite programs, so U.S. Handcycling set out to work directly with U.S. Parlaympics to insure that handcyclists were represented under this new structure.

As of 2007, U.S. Handcycling continues to work with U.S. Parlaympics to help them reach more than just the “top of the pyramid” and create handcycling and integrated cycling opportunities in collaboration with dozens of grassroots organizations throughout the country. U.S. Handcycling has always had its finger on the pulse of handcycling, and regularly works with organizations covering a diverse demographic, from cycling clubs, to Parks & Recreation groups, to DSUSA chapters. The driving force has always been to help the cycling community become more integrated, and this ideal is inherent in everything we do.

On January 1, 2009, USA Cycling (USAC) will assume responsibility for domestic Paralympic Cycling, per a mandate by the UCI. We recently met with Steve Johnson, CEO of USAC, and were pleased that he is very open-minded about working with U.S. Handcycling towards this transition.

Men Kneeseat - Includes any athlete of any disability riding a kneeling handcycle; includes double amputees.
Men Longseat- Includes athletes with “legs out”, includes and disability except: quads and double amputees
Women Open: Includes any athlete of any disability except: Quads who will ride in the mixed Quad category
Quads- Includes any athlete with all four limbs affected by their disability.

Age Group Categories
Men Kneeseat- 45+ - Includes athletes aged 45 and over
Men Longseat 45+ - Includes athletes 45 to 54
Men Longseat 55+- Includes athletes 55 and over

National Governing Body:
United States Hancycling

International Governing Body:
International Paralympic Committee


Last Updated on Sunday, 28 June 2009 18:55