Early handcycle designs were very crude. They were very heavy and exhibited poor performance. They had a bicycle front fork (with cranks mounted on the top to drive the front wheel), attached to a frame with a seat and two rear wheels. Three wheels are used because pedaling and steering a two wheeled design is very difficult. It was difficult to clear your legs while turning unless you sat quite high off the ground and placed your legs below your body. This high seat position meant you had to greatly reduce your speed before cornering or risk tipping over. The location of the body also did not place enough weight over the front wheel, which was also the drive wheel, so it was difficult to climb hills without losing traction. At the time, Brike Int. Ltd. was building a foot-powered three wheeled design that used a patented "body lean steering" method. This design had several inherent design aspects that would later lend itself perfectly to a handcycle. The first was that you simply leaned your body to steer the bike. (More on this later.) Also by simply moving the foot crank assembly from ahead of our front wheel to above the wheel would allow our bike to be hand powered. Since our design employs "body lean steering", the problem of pedaling and steering was not an issue, neither was the problem of having a fork steered front wheel between your legs. This proved to be such an ideal design that we continued to develop it further.
Finally in 1991 we had a proven design and decided to put it on the market. At the time, the FREEDOM RYDER was the first high performance handcycle out there. Because handcyclists were setting all kinds of distance, speed and time records on our handcycles, (see world records) word soon spread. As time passed and the market grew, more and more companies started coming out with their version of a handcycle. Because our bike was a patented design, the other handcycle manufacturers predominantly used the bicycle front fork steering design. However, our success and higher performance caused the other manufacturers to employ any design aspects of a FREEDOM RYDER that they could. Thatís why many of the handcycles on the market today resemble a FREEDOM RYDER. On handcycles of today, the low center of gravity and body position, the means of supporting the legs, the cambered rear wheels, the side by side crank position and the adjustment of the crank assembly were all Brike Int. Ltd. "design firsts". The one thing they didnít copy because of our patents was the "body lean steering design." The ability to lean your body to counteract centrifugal force during a turn, and the ability to pedal throughout the turn are the two most important aspects of a high performance handcycle.
The FREEDOM RYDER uses a two piece articulating frame design. You sit on the front section that houses the seat, the front wheel and the crank assembly. The rear section houses the rear wheels and the handlebars. The front part of the frame articulates on two pivot points between the two frame pieces. As you lean your body towards the apex of the corner, the front wheel, the seat, and the cranks tilt and turn with you. To steer a FREEDOM RYDER you simply lean your body in the direction you wish to turn, the more you lean the more you turn. The FREEDOM RYDER also uses self-centering steering geometry so after you complete your turn it will want to return to center. This lean to steer design counteracts centrifugal force just like a bicycle, and is the most efficient way to execute a corner. It feels almost exactly like snow skiing or water skiing. It also feels a lot like flying. Not only is this feeling a lot of fun, it feels totally natural.
Every time a new rider gets on a FREEDOM RYDER and carves his first turn, you can see a big smile light up his face, and he will comment "wow, now I understand!" The best thing is that this feeling never goes away. If anything it gets better as you get more proficient on the bike. How often do you get tired of carving a perfect turn on your bicycle?
A unique thing about a FREEDOM RYDER is you can easily continue pedaling throughout the corner unlike the other designs that use a bicycle type headset. On a headset design the crank assembly must turn with the forks during a turn making it awkward to pedal throughout the corner. Also, as you turn the front wheel your legs donít turn with it. So if you turn anything beyond a gentle turn the tire will contact your inner thigh. With a FREEDOM RYDER the whole front frame section moves and follows your body.
Another area that is easily missed but is extremely important is frame flex. If your frame flexes each time you push or pull on the cranks then youíve essentially lost some of the energy youíve put into them. The most important area is between the cranks and the seat back. That's why the FREEDOM RYDER uses extensive frame triangulation in its design. A stiff frame is usually associated with a rough ride but with FREEDOM RYDERíS two piece frame we were able to design a very stiff front section where the power is delivered and design in the right amount of flex into the rear section to give you a comfortable ride.
FREEDOM RYDER was the first to design in frame adjustability. This allows the rider to set the bike up to perfectly fit their body and riding style. Frame adjustability not only benefits the manufacturer in reduced tooling costs, but it also benefits the customer when they decide its time to sell their bike and move up to a newer model. The FREEDOM RYDER "SUPERBIKES" not only allow the cranks to be adjusted forward and back for different arm lengths, but also up and down for different torso lengths. No other handcycle has this much adjustability.
The leg supports also adjust for different leg lengths. This wrap-around leg support design protects your feet while riding and is an exclusive Brike Int. Ltd. design. They are now seen on almost every handcycle on the market today.
These are just some of the many reasons why so many people who have ridden the different handcycle designs tell us we make the best handcycle in the world. This is a bold statement and it takes more than a superior design to make that claim. Click on "Quality" for more information. So if you do your research and look at all the many details that make up the best handcycle, weíre confident youíll choose a FREEDOM RYDER!