Out in the (bracing) spring air

Whether cruising leisurely on a handbike or pushing yourself to top speeds on a racing bike in pursuit of points, when the weather is good, handbikes are great fun for all and provide an opportunity to get out and about with able-bodied friends and family.

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining more brightly and the thermometer is creeping up. The time has finally come to leave the grey days of winter behind and get out into the spring air. Whether you want to set off on long cycle rides with friends or pit your sporting prowess against others, handbikes open up a whole range of possibilities for people with disabilities.

From connected machines to racing bikes

Just like bikes for the able bodied, handbikes can be divided into different categories, i.e. standard bikes, racing bikes and touring bikes. Many manufacturers offer all-round bikes for everyday use. These bikes are attached to your wheelchair using various systems. All wheelchairs with the EC symbol are compatible for use with handbikes in this way. Usually, you simply need to set up the connection to the wheelchair the first time, after this the bike can be easily connected and disconnected. Anyone who wants to travel faster in their wheelchair can use a sports bike. This is connected to the wheelchair in the same way as an all-round bike, however its geometry, components and materials are designed for speed. Racing bikes are designed purely for sporting use and are one-piece, which means that the athlete must get onto the bike.

Separate competition series

Separate competitions are held for racing bikes. In addition to the positive medical aspects, handbikes promote social integration, since they allow groups of cyclists and handbike users to go on outings together. Handbikers can also train with able-bodied sportspeople: strong handbikers with cyclists and rollerbladers, and not so strong handbikers with runners. Similar to cycling, handbiking can be practiced by disabled people of almost any age. The higher acceptance and usage of handbikes in comparison with stationary exercise equipment increases physical activity to new levels. Handbiking is becoming increasingly popular and enthusiasts are setting up their own sections in more and more disabled sports clubs. The first "DRS handbike City marathon trophy" was held in 2004. The aim of this new race series is to integrate handbiking into big city marathons and take advantage of the large audience and high media presence to increase awareness. In the same way as marathons for runners, the managers of the DRS handbiking section focus on a mix of competitive and mainstream sport. Every wheelchair user, whether with a racing bike or an adaptive bike (connectable bike with the standard grip-wheeled wheelchair), should be given an opportunity to try a sport in a major arena. This will also help to show that wheelchair users too can practice an attractive sport. It might even help to spread the handbike "bug".

Source: Deutscher Rollstuhlsportverband