1992 - Volume #16, Issue #2, Page #20[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Hand Powered Bike For HandicappedA Montana inventor can't keep up with demand for his new hand-powered bike that lets children who can't use their legs pedal with their hands.
Charles "Bud" Lee, Denton, Mont., started building the bike for kids who are paralyzed from the waist down. The bike has pedals in place of handlebars.
"Kids catch onto it pretty fast. They're racing each other after just 15 to 20 minutes. Being able to get around on the bike gives them a little more freedom," says Lee.
"Bud's Bike", as it's called, is a 3-wheeled tricycle with a built-from-scratch frame fitted with parts designed for a 20-in. 1-speed bicycle. The rear bike wheel mounts in front and two bike front wheels mount at rear. The bicycle's pedals are equipped with hand grips. The child pedals the bike by cranking the pedals and also uses them to steer. To stop he simply reverses the pedals.
The hand-powered bike has a go-cart seat equipped with a seat belt. "The child can't brace himself with his legs so turning the pedals could pull him right off the seat without the seat belt," explains Lee, who notes that the bike has an expanded metal platform to support the child's feet. There's a basket behind the seat as well as a colored flag that makes the low-riding biker considerably more visible in traffic.
Bud began building the bike about 10 years ago after he "retired" from farming. He got the idea when a neighbor child was born paralyzed from the waist down. The child's mother showed Bud a picture she found in a magazine of a 1900-era hand-operated bicycle and asked if he could duplicate it. Bud has built 40 more custom-built bikes since then. Most of the bikes are personally delivered to their new owners by Bud and his wife, Helen. "Parents of a crippled child spend a lot of money on their child. Sometimes they give me a couple of hundred dollars for the bike. If they don't have the money, I don't charge them," says Lee.
Many of the used parts are donated. A local fabricator sells Bud the seats at cost for $19, which is about one-third what it would cost him to buy a new go-cart seat. He gets many of the parts at cost from a bicycle shop in Yuma, Ariz., where Bud and Helen spend their winters.
Lee offers free plans on how to make your own hand-powered bike (send a self-addressed stamped envelope).
Contact FARM SHOW Followup, Charles "Bud" Lee, Box 1018, Denton, Mont. 59430 (ph 406 567-2213).
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