My dad loves cycling, however he has dystonia which reduces control of the muscles in his hands. He can still cycle, however this becomes very painful after a moderate period of time due to gripping the handlebars, and also reduces his control of the bikes movement.

An answer related to this question advises the use of a steering damper to help with stabilisation, however I was also wondering if anyone knew where I would be able to buy something like this:

My dads right arm is better than his left, and he still has control in his forearms, so if possible the device would allow him to steer using his forearms. Any help would be appreciated.

  • 2
    A coaster (backpedal) brake would seem to be a good idea. – Chris H Oct 9 at 14:58
  • How is his balance? What about his reaction time? Flexibility for looking behind for traffic ? – Criggie Oct 10 at 6:53
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Not exactly what you are after, but a set of clip on aero bars would provide basic control with the forearms for changing road position and gentle curves. Although depending on flexibility it might not be possible to find a comfortable position.

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  • 1
    @LaurieBamber They are not so common, but you can get them with independent arm rests allowing you to slide them much further back. 220triathlon.com/news/images/… This could then perhaps be combined with a high rise stem to raise the whole handlebar into a more upright position. – Andy P Oct 9 at 14:24
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    You could clamp them to the top of butterfly bars which would raise the position considerably. – Carel Oct 9 at 14:29
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    Be real careful using aerobars for normal riding. Note that you do not have access to the brakes while you're actually using the arm rests. Aerobars can in fact be dangerous to ride on near anything else, so much so that their use is illegal in mass-start races. Don't be "that guy" that goes through crowds while riding on aerobars. – Andrew Henle Oct 9 at 14:30
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    My dad enjoys long distance cycling, so this modification would only be used on long straightish roads, and he would switch to regular cycling when in cities and built-up areas (he can stand short bursts with normal handlebars, its long-periods of time that causes real problems) – Laurie Bamber Oct 9 at 14:42
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    Being so far from the brakes (especially the front brake as the back could be a coaster) would seem quite limiting, as would needing to stabilise the bike with the weak hand while moving the strong one to the brakes – Chris H Oct 9 at 14:57

So I don't know much about the disease you mentioned - but if the symptoms are caused by the strain on the wrists and hands, then I have a perfect but expensive solution: Switch to a recumbent. There is no weight on the hands, ever, on all recumbent types.

  • Under seat steering handlebars allow the hands to rest next to the torso in a very relaxed fashion and pretty much straight, like hanging down beside the torso except the whole arms are angled somewhat towards to front.

  • Above seat steering handlebars probably allow for more variations on the grip, but I think the posture is overall slightly less relaxed, you can't let the arms just hang down as much.

  • Center steering recumbents with no handlebars (or handlebars not used for steering but only to mount brake handles) don't need any arms at all (well, if you mount coaster brakes), but more control of the rest of the body and are probably harder to ride.

I'm pretty sure all of those types also exist in three wheeled versions if the disease further progresses and makes balancing too hard.

  • Totally agreed. It’s a shame that recumbents are so rare. They are especially great for people with arm, neck or balance (in case of three wheeled trikes) issues. I’d really like to convince my mum (she has MS) to switch to a recumbent trike but she’s extremely reluctant to get something so “exotic”. – Michael Oct 12 at 7:11

You should have a look at this: http://www.notbroken.co.uk/

The Founder ( Tom Wheeler ) had a massive crash while riding downhill and can't use his right hand properly. He adapted his bikes and with the help of 3D Printing he is now making his own stuff to be able to ride again.

I think you can shoot him a mail and see if he is able to help with some tips or stuff.

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