“A four-wheel mountain bike.”

ByChris Swift

“A four-wheel mountain bike.”

You can’t think of this as a wheelchair, this is a four-wheel mountain bike. It just so happens that it can be used by wheelchair user.

So said downhill racing pioneer and legend Stacy Kohut from an Internet video I watched in the early 00’s. And 20 years later, perhaps we are seeing that change of attitude finally go mainstream with bikes like the Bowhead Reach (despite the fact it only has 3 wheels).

Racers like Stacy, John Davies and Team Phoenix; adventurers like Jean-François Porret and engineers like John Castellano and Bill Grove were my inspiration in the late 90s and early 00’s.

In my opinion the Cobra and DH-X1 downhill chairs together with the One-off Titanium hand cycle trike are game changing pieces of adaptive equipment. They Kickstarted a new world of outdoor access, sport and leisure, and as a new wheelchair user I could see there was more than just a powered wheelchair in my future. Thank God for the Internet.

And thank God for the growth in mountain biking, both in terms of the technical advances in suspension, transmissions, brakes and tyres, and in terms of the extensive infrastructure of managed trails, facilities, publications and community. Mountain biking is now a lifestyle and leisure activity open to everyone, regardless of ability. Pure downhill wheelchair riding is spectacular, but also tricky to access and likely very daunting to a new rider. But developments in electric motor and battery technology mean that you can get similar thrills without the need of a mountainside.

All-terrain trikes from Sport-On, Recreative and more recently the Bowhead Reach build on the legacy of the One-off Titanium trike and give riders a more “bike like” experience. Riding with friends.

Trikes like the Reach are featured in everyday mountain bike publications. Adaptive all-terrain hand bike videos receive millions of  views on YouTube. It seems that change in attitude that Stacy was talking about 20 years ago is finally happening. You can’t think of these machines as wheelchairs; they are just four (or three) wheel mountain bikes.

 

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