Adapted bikes- poor quality for ££

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  • Adapted bikes- poor quality for ££
  • Premier Icon hot_fiat

    ‘ll be starting a mech engineering course in September and the perfect outcome would be to understand more of the design process and what it would take to design, fabricate and build these types of bike to the standards of our conventional mountain bike and road bikes

    Ah ah ha ha ha. Woooo ho hoo hoo. Ho oh oh ho.

    Which goggle-eyed prospectus did you read to get that? You’ll study 1 module of design, if yer lucky. The rest is maths, maths, further maths and thermodynamics, which is unintelligible maths interspersed with some words that are difficult to define. Look at an industrial design degree.

    I may have had some whiskey. And some light ales. Hic. Goodnight.


    What are people’s experiences with adapted bikes and how would you rate them?

    As a volunteer for BikeAbility Wales I get the chance to work on and ride a variety of cycles; recumbents, trikes, hand-cycles , wheel chair bikes and so on. Personally, I find the quality of the bikes appalling where the lowest of the low end groupset parts are used on bikes in excess of 3k. These bikes are also delivered with numerous tolerance issues. In one instance, a “repeatable'” manufacturer responded to our issue of a wheelchair bike pulling to one side under braking and told us to basically oil the rotor. PURPOSELY contaminating the pads is ludicrous.

    We’ve had it all. Warped frames, ridiculously dished wheels, obsolete parts and I could go on. A lot of these bikes are imports and we have no viable means of getting warranty support. The one thing that goes for these bikes is the thought behind them. People enjoy riding them and anything that gets someone active and allows them to participate in the sport is an achievement in my eyes.

    This got me thinking, why are there no British engineering firms making adapted cycles? The demand is definitely 100% there. Hopefully I’ll be starting a mech engineering course in September and the perfect outcome would be to understand more of the design process and what it would take to design, fabricate and build these types of bike to the standards of our conventional mountain bike and road bikes. It genuinely baffles me when these bikes are priced so highly. Simple box section aluminium tubing with pathetic welds gives an excuse of a frame and I’m there thinking “Where’s my hope hubs and Chris King headsets in amongst all this cheap ****”

    Would it be worthwhile setting a long term goal to open up a business producing these bikes?

    I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences. At the end of the day, It’s all about getting people out riding!

    Alister Trotman

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Project Gravity X think the same thing… Though where they are with getting to market I don’t know. Rough Riderz would be better to speak to I think.

    Premier Icon JoeG

    They’re expensive because they are a specialty, low volume product!

    It probably takes more man hours to design an adaptable bike or recumbent, and the sales volume is much lower than a normal production bike. So the design costs are spread over fewer bikes sold.

    The same goes for manufacturing. Factories are set up to build regular bikes and frames. So they finish building this batch of 1500 bikes, then reset the frame jigs to start on the next batch. But a recumbent, trike, or similar would require a much bigger production change, and probably for a very small volume as well. That cost has to be covered somehow.

    And the same would go for components; odd size wheels, a mix of road and mountain parts, long cables and chains, etc. And again bought in low volume.

    While I can understand your frustration OP, I highly doubt that any of the manufacturers are getting rich!

    Premier Icon smokey_jo

    High prices for poor quality are rife in the mobility ‘industry’-to have a manual wheelchair serviced you seem to have to pay car mechanic prices rather than bike mechanic prices.


    This got me thinking, why are there no British engineering firms making adapted cycles?




    In some ways you’re dealing with basic economies of scale – if you make 1000 of something then the unit cost is much lower than if you make only a handful. But yes, I agree – often I can custom-build a cycle to a high standard for the same price or lower than one of the already available cycles, and the disability market is very over-priced compared to things like recumbents and other more mainstream bikes.


    I know EXACTLY what the OP means, I’ve worked the same out for myself.
    I’ve serviced and repaired more than my fair share of these sort of machines and with one notable exception (an amazing full XTR hand cycle, £6k+ worth) they are generally utter crap.
    I’ve had a tricycle where the back end was either built or assembled out of line so I had no chance of getting the chain line straight to keep the chain on. The normal cycle components are the very very cheapest ‘SIS’ stuff that can possibly be fitted, saddles can be literally solid bits of plastic. I’ve just done a quote for the repair of a load of trikes etc for a school, some of these trikes are obviously made for children with varying disabilities and probably cost a packet. Fine. But the ‘headset’ is a plain metal bar running through a tube. No bearing of any kind that I can see. The tyres are solid (really? Can’t the teachers use a pump?) but totally specific to the wheel and one has worn through and split in half. We have absolutely no chance of ever getting another one, so that trike is effectively scrap. For one tyre…….

    To be honest it pisses me off. Why does someone think that just because someone has a disability, that they can force substandard crap on them like that? Because they won’t notice? I know why they sell, and why they cost so much – the organisation that buy them are tied to certain suppliers of ‘correct’ equipment, don’t pay VAT, and the money comes form some fund somewhere, not out of one persons pocket. If you or I, or any keen cyclist went to buy one, you’d laugh in their faces and tell them to do one.

    It needs someone with the passion to get off their ass and build something of reasonably decent quality. It doesn’t have to be that different to what everyone else uses IMO. OP, I wish you luck. 🙂


    Just as an example, here’s a Racerunner I built recently:

    The available ones are made out of thick mild steel, with heavy parts, cheap bearings, and bolt-on wheels that keep unscrewing themselves. For the same price, I built this one in 0.9mm Columbus tubing, with carbon forks and very light wheels on custom Hope quick-release hubs. It weighs about half as much, and the owner is breaking records on it 😉


    Local (to us) disabled soldier has started a CIC with a brief to make affordable/useable sports equipment for disabled folk (but chiefly a hand cranked mountain bike at the moment). His blog also highlights the huge price/quality difference for some adaptive stuff. Chris is well known in the SW as a (hand cranked) rider in his own right but also puts a lot into the DH (yes he races, on a hand trike!!) scene in terms of events and digging.

    Facebook page

    Chris’ blog.

    Premier Icon riddoch

    I volunteered at the Paralympics and the differences in the kit is phenomenal even at the Olympic level. The britsh trike and handcycles were fully tricked up bits of carbon loveliness that weighed virtually nothing. Some of the other nations (I think it was Czech reblic and south Africans that were at the training site most often) felt like like they were made of pig iron, having to lift them in and out of the transport lorry was a challenge.
    I think there was only one or maybe two manufacturers of handcycles apart from the nations that had gone fully custom (Italy and the UK).


    Grateful and glad people like you are thinking about this stuff – gives us cyclists hope that should the worst happen and we mess ourselves up we could carry on having fun. Thank you!


    Thanks for all the input guys! It’s a shame that the rate of disabled cycling in Britain isn’t increasing like it’s 2 wheeled counterpart. Project enduro is the main development from around here (South Wales) and it’s looking great. But a lot of the disabilities I see that need to be catered for are mental disabilities where having full control of a bike in some cases is dangerous. Tandems and 2 seater go karts seem to be the are great of this where a career or chaperone has main control.

    Chris’ Blog is pretty awesome. To be riding trails on a hand cycle is pure commitment to the sport. He also looks like he’s having a great time 🙂 Also bencooper’s Racerunner is very sweet looking. I see you run a company Kinetics? A very impressive range of bikes which I’ll be sure to be showing the guys at the charity this afternoon. I came across a picture of you’re workshop too and it’s incredible! The design skills needed to build these bikes seems way outside that of a uni degree.. Maybe the apprenticeship route would have been better after all! Nvm 8)

    It’s great hearing from you guys and it’s encouraging to know that there is progress being made! 🙂

    Premier Icon brant

    Ben, that’s amazing.

    I’m hoping to get to Edinburgh soon. Could I pop in?


    Absolutely – the mother-in-law is visiting early next week so might be away on Tuesday or Wednesday, but after that I’ll be at the shop normal hours (10-5, Tues-Sat).


    It is true that there’s a lot of crap on the market here in the UK, but I guess a lot of that is down to lack of consumer knowledge. As far as the average end user of these types of products are concerned, there’s really very little available.
    However, if you get yourself over to Eurobike you’ll see a really pretty significant range of adapted bikes/mobility products. The demand for them is there, but it tends to be in countries which have much more of a cycling culture than we do (seen as a primary mode of transport, than the preserve hobby of a few weirdos.)
    Like anything, these will eventually become more prevalent as the demand for choice and value grows. At the moment though, they’re still portrayed as a very bespoke thing, hence why the prices are so high.

    As previously said, economies of scale do play a significant part in this- for every 1 mobility bike sold, there’s probably at least 10,000 regular bikes sold. However, the manufuacturers/retailers definitely seem to be relying on the ignorance/naivety of their customers at the moment.


    Great thread, and thanks for raising this issue. Our oranisation has severeal adapted cycles, and they are generaly poor qaulity for the money. They spend too much time in the workshopbeing sorted, whn they cold be being enjoyed by those who would benefit from them.

    To be honest it pisses me off. Why does someone think that just because someone has a disability, that they can force substandard crap on them like that?

    Exactly. hopefully, discussions like this can perhaps lead towards these issues being addressed.

    Bencooper; great stff, and I think you can expect a bit of interest as a result of your contribution on here!

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