A downhill bicycle for the paraplegic adrenaline junkie

I try to include other machines that I find interesting occasionally to Cars of Malaysia. Maybe these machines could inspire you for your personal project, inspire an invention that improve lives, give you an idea for a start-up, give you an idea for a solution to a problem at work, or just help give you an idea for your final year project in university. 

A Short Story on How I got Involved

You can skip this section if you want to go straight to the paraplegic bike.

The most interesting job I had before I graduated was a job as a bicycle mechanic. I love cycling and fiddling with mechanicals. So this was perfect. I used to trade second hand bicycles for a while but then I decided to get more experience from a local bicycle shop. I also love taking photos. So an interest in cycling, mechanicals, and photography. It all started with this £60 bicycle that I bought outside a lecture hall.

 My 5-speed bicycle.

At this time I had very little knowledge about bicycles, but it didn't stop me from riding it everywhere.

Everywhere. Including the weird stone formation that is called the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. This still remains as one of the best experiences in my book with these great people. On a used £60 5-speed bicycle. Through riding and thrashing my bike I learned more and more about bicycles and how to fix them.

The bike did take a beating and ended up looking like this

Now I only have the frame. Good bike.

Following my interests, I finally ended up in that workshop, looking at that strange orange machine. What were we supposed to do? Study it and maybe make another one. What did we end up doing? Taking photos and chatting about it over a beer.

Now back to the paraplegic downhill bike.

Reason for existence

This is a downhill bike.

For paraplegics.

How did this become a thing? Extreme athletes who just won’t give up. A rather popular example of an athlete who won’t give up would be Martyn Ashton, a mountain bike trials legend who did things like this:

After falling off a 10-foot high bar, he was paralysed waist down. There are other people with similar stories who chose not to give up.

Hence the existence of a machine like this.

How does it work?

It doesn’t have foot pedals or hand pedals. How does it move? Gravity. The rider basically rolls off the hill with a bit of push and leaves the rest to gravity. The wheels aren’t connected to any drive and turn individually.

The brakes are split to front and rear on the right lever and left lever respectively. So it’s still as intuitive as riding a normal bicycle.

The suspension setup is also similar to that of a full suspension bicycle. Full suspension bicycles usually have the frame split in to two. The main frame (top tube, down tube, and seat tube) and the rear triangle. The suspension on this paraplegic bike is also positioned at the front wheels and the centre of the frame.

Steering wise this would feel different from a bicycle. Leaning in to a corner won’t create as much significance as it would on a bike since you have 4 wheels. I think the steering wheel is a bell-crank linkage steering. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

With no drive and only being propelled by gravity, could this qualify as a soapbox car?

Here's the bike in action:


Do you have any interesting invention ideas to help other people? Share with us in the comments section below.

Until then

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