Help & advice for 1-handed cycling?

No this isn’t a ‘joke’ but I accept the thread title might make it sound like it could be :grin:

Background in a nutshell:

  • 48 y/o recreational cyclist (uk based)
  • RTA in April 2020 (knocked off my bike)
  • 3 broken ribs
  • knocked out for a while
  • few nights in hospital / badly banged up hip / right side bruises / swelling / cuts etc

Recovered and back on the bike in July, with a ‘nagging’ shoulder pain that didn’t improve.

Pain got worse, a LOT worse and spread down left arm. Resulted in paralysis of left hand. Had to stop cycling (indoors or outdoors) again in October due to the pain.

Diagnosis after multiple MRIs / conductivity tests / blood panels is nerve damage. Inoperable. Prognosis initially was 6 months to recovery.

That was at the start of October. No improvement and now a revised prognosis of ‘maybe’ it gets better in a year or two but possibly never.

Anyway, I got back on the indoor trainer on 01/01/21 but can’t ride outdoors as my left hand / wrist is super weak; I can close my hand and make a weak (60%?) strength fist but cannot open my hand or extend my fingers / thumb as the radial nerve is damaged. It would be really unsafe to ride not having full control of the handlebars or left brake / gear levers.

My question is - does anyone know of a bike mod / piece of kit / novel approach that allows someone without full use of one hand to safety ride outdoors?

I’m really missing being outside on my bike and although I’m staying positive about recovery in due course; I have now come to terms with the possibility it may never improve enough to be considered ‘normal’ so am looking to find out if any adjustments can be made that will allow me to return to outdoor riding safety at some point.

In the meantime I’m cracking on with SSBLV - gotta try and get my FTP back to where it was a year ago … am about 70 watts down :joy::joy:

Any help greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Dave

I will try to do more searching, but the basic idea of looking at solutions for people with arm amputations is possible start:

I have seen a range of solutions from things like chest supports to lean against, to swapped brake and shift levers to put them on the same side of the bars and such. I can envision a number of ways to adjust things to varying degrees for better support and control.

The other “out there” solution is to look towards getting a trike (recumbent or upright) since you get greater stability from the wheels, with less need to do more than steer. But that does differ with the wide range of designs that exist.

Essentially, start looking for resources already existing for people with impaired or missing limbs. I would guess there are a number of options that might be appropriate for your needs.

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Thank you Chad.
I appreciate the time you took to make this response.
Regards
Dave

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I have a club mate who has use of only 1 arm - he rides a road bike frame with flat bars, built up with all the controls on the left side.

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A riding buddy of mine has only one hand (he either wasn’t born with his right hand or had it amputated, I don’t know). He has his bike set up so the his STI brake lever connects to a splitter which pulls two cables, one for the front brake and one for the rear. Along with the STI shifter he also has bar-end shifter so he can shift both in the front and back. He had a support pad of sort, I think a bit like a TT forearm rest, so he could put his partial right arm on the handlebars. I think this is somewhat riskier - last fall he hit a bumpy patch in the road and crashed, but I didn’t see what happened exactly. The right arm support broke but I don’t know if that’s what caused the crash or if it broke after he fell.

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I’ve built and adapted many bikes for people who’ve needed it for one reason or another. (Also UK based).

Do you have any issues with core stability or lower body imbalances, or is it purely shoulder/wrist/hand?

There are a lot of adaptions that can be made - I’ve got two riders who lost part of their arms from serving in the military who are now very quick triathletes!

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Core is pretty weak I think - just needs some consistent work. Nothing that can’t be remedied.

L/ R balance is a little off due to (what presume are fairly minor) back / hip issues arising from the accident that I’m getting treated through physio - I’ve seen improvement over the last 2 months.

The idea of a wrist stabilising arrangement for my left (affected) hand and then modified controls so the main functions are accessible from the right might be the solution. :+1:t2:

In that case, you’re not too dissimilar from an adaption I made for a client a couple of years ago - she had no right hand function.
We made a hand stability solution so she could at least grip the right side, and then setup Di2 (Synchro Shift is so awesome for this!) with a cable splitter to control both brakes. We used a Problem Solver cable doublet and JuinTech cable/hydraulic brakes.

If you want any more info, send me an email - Mike at mikesbikeshop.co.uk and I’m more than happy to chat!

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Awesome :sunglasses:
Thank you
Dave

Check out Active Hands a UK based company.

Hope make the finest brakes in the world! The Tech 3 Duo and Tech 3 X2 Uno are different solutions to the same problem of running two hydraulic brakes with one hand.
It can be done and you can be fast and in control with one hand!

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Likely a custom piece of equipment required I’d guess.

When I was riding Leadville a few years ago, I was behind Willie Stewart (one armed Willie) descending the goat trail on Columbine.

He was descending as fast as I was. So I’d say once you get used to your kit, you can ride pretty safely.

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I only have 30% use of my right hand. This is what I do. Everything is on the left side of my handle bars. I took the right STI lever from the right side and attached it to the drops on the left side, the “top” of the hood pointed towards the ground, the STI brake lever end will be fairly close to the other lever. Think of the ends of the brake levers almost touching. That way you don’t need to have a splitter for the brake cables or hydraulic hoses. I really believe that it’s better to have separate brakes, I have a fairly large left hand so I can control both brakes with my left hand on the hoods of the left STI lever. Then on the right side where the STI lever was I just put a dummy hood. Find an old lever that is broken and remove the brake lever to reduce the weight. You would just do everything on the right side if it is your left hand that has reduced strength.

Stephan

This is golden - thanks so much :+1:t2:

My ‘plan A’ is still to hope for recovery within the next few months (or at least signs of material progress) but if that doesn’t happen then this is my go-to solution.

Thanks for the advice :sunglasses::+1:t2:

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A bit left field but have you considered riding a tandem to get your fitness and exercise in nature outside? I ride with a blind friend. He goes on the back and all he has to do is pedal (or not) whilst I as captain control steering braking and gears.

These guys lend out tandems

You can also get tandems (Circ Helios is an example). Where the front is a recumbent seat and rear upright. You sit on the front strapped in and all you have to do is pedal. There’s are bars by your hip that you can choose to hold or not hold based on how nervous you are. No arm strength required. I rode one when recovering from Shermer’s neck after an ultra distance event.

You’ll need someone to volunteer to be on the front and get out with you. It’s incredible sociable and you’ll go faster than a single road bike. You’ll typically average 23-24 mph on the flat etc.

Pandemic pending but we are coming out of restrictions in England over the next 3 months as the vaccination races to the full adult population.

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You might find something in here its dated but its a thread on a UK forum from a one handed cyclist too. Disabled Cyclist | CycleChat Cycling Forum