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Design approach selected for adjustable hand cycle

We recently met with the adaptive sports experts at No Limits Kids Fitness to choose one of several design approaches for our hand cycle.

The gym was full of UW-Madison kinesiology students and their clients. They asked a lot of excellent questions and provided great feedback about the designs.

The goal of our project, which is supported through a crowdfunding campaign named Lend a Handcycle, is to design and build a prototype hand cycle that is fully adjustable for children with physical disabilities as they grow. Concepts were created to accommodate a wide range of sizes and abilities – from the fifth percentile of height and weight for 12-year-old girls to the 95th percentile for 17-year-old boys. Given that children grow out of bikes as they age and hand cycles cost several thousand dollars, cycling has been too expensive for many families with physically challenged children. Our bike is designed to make cycling more physically and financially accessible.

A demonstration of seat and hand pedal adjustability in the design.
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Tim Gattenby (left) of No Limits Kids Fitness discusses the potential alterations needed to accommodate the scissor-jack design on an adult hand cycle with Design Concepts mechanical engineer Chris Strahm.
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Craig Conner, Director of Human Factors, describes the project and processes used to create several design approaches to a group at the UW Natatorium.
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The scissor-jack seat mechanism in its collapsed and forward position.
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The seat pushed back to accommodate larger children.
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A rear view of the seat in a raised position that clearly shows the scissor- jack mechanism.

The selected design uses a scissor-jack mechanism to adjust the seat. It's like the car jack you carry in your trunk. The advantages? Using a hand crank, a helper from No Limits Kids Fitness could adjust height and seat angle while the child is sitting on the bike. The disadvantage? The scissor-jack mechanism weighs twice as much as a gas spring, which may make it harder to transport and take a little more effort from the child to get it rolling.

Based on feedback, some adjustments will be made to the design. We hope to begin building the prototype by the end of the year so it is available for next year's No Limits Kids Fitness summer camp.

Once we start building the prototype, we'll share lots of pictures.

To everyone who contributed and has spent long hours on this project, thank you. We're getting closer to that first prototype. The best reward will be seeing kids enjoying it. What our partners at No Limits Kids Fitness learn from using this prototype will help make the next generation of hand cycles serve more kids who want them.

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