Bomber Off-Road Handcycle
Review By David Nickelson
Manufactured by: ReActive Adaptations in Crested Butte, CO
The off-road handcycle I use is a Bomber model made by Jake O’Connor at his company, ReActive Adaptations in Crested Butte, Colorado. The bike uses two front wheels and a single rear wheel where power is transferred from arm cranked pedals to the tread via a series of chains. This design provides greater grip for climbing by placing more of the riders weight over the rear wheel.
A user rides the bike in a kneeling position with two padded knee wells and a padded seat spreading out their weight. The bike is pedaled through two cranks mounted in front of the rider. Shifting and braking are performed through traditional bike shifters and brake handles mounted on the handlebars. Steering is done through the handlebars or a chest pad connected to cables that allow a rider to lean left or right while cranking.
While the bike has allowed me to do many new trails, it does have limitations. Trails with loose gravel on steep slopes can prevent the bike from being able to grip going uphill. It requires a width similar to a wheelchair so narrow trails can be difficult or impossible to navigate. Rocks, steps and fallen trees all provide obstacles that may or may not be passable depending upon their size. Trails that parallel a hillside present a risk of tipping over. For these reasons it is important to travel with a friend.
Even with those limitations, the bike provides unparalleled access to trails and locations one could never hope to reach using any other type of wheelchair or handcycle. Low gearing allows a rider to ascend steep hills as long as the rear wheel has something to grip. Hydraulic disc brakes provide significant stopping power when descending. For the user who wants to get off the smooth trails and deeper into the woods or mountains, this is a bike worth checking out.
Due to the unusual kneeling position while riding, it is highly recommended to take a bike for a test-ride before deciding whether to buy one. While ReActive Adaptations counts even quadriplegics among their customers, not everyone will find the position comfortable. If you’re not near Crested Butte, contact Jake, he may have a previous customer who lives in your area that would be happy to let you try their bike out.
For individuals who require financial assistance, ReActive Adaptations has put together a helpful list of funding and grant resources on their website at http://www.reactiveadaptations.com/handcycle-funding/ (although they do not have any affiliation with any of them). Some individuals have been able to combine more than one grant in order to completely pay for their handcycle.