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Mike Augspurger, Handcycle Inventor
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A rider tests Augspurger off-road handcycle

A rider tests a handcycle

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Detail of patent drawing for Augspurger’s handcycle, 2000
Augspurger's handcycle patent drawing

Augspurger as a young boy poses with his bicycle in front of his family home
Augspurger as a young boy

The Continuing Development of the Handcycle

“Mechanical engineering is like basketball. If you didn’t start when you were two years old, there’s no help. Chemical engineers can start learning what they need to know when they’re 18. But mechanical engineers need a lot of hands­on experience with tools and materials, which later seems like intuition.”

Augspurger came up with an innovative design. Instead of putting the rider in a sitting position with his or her legs stretched out in front, Augspurger’s cycle has the rider’s legs folded back and straped into supports. The rider’s upper body rests on a pad, arms down, to reach the hand cranks. The handlebars in front­with brakes and gearshifts­can be used for steering when the cycle goes downhill. While pedaling, the rider can steer with the chest pad, which pivots and is connected by cables to the steering mechanism.

Throughout the long process of design and development, Augspurger asked wheelchair athletes to test-ride his models.

Working with athletes with disabilities made Augspurger aware of the uniqueness of each person’s needs and abilities, and his customized construction allows him to adapt the handcycle for each individual. Although custom building makes his cycles expensive, he isn’t interested in large­scale production. He prefers to experiment and design new kinds of cycles and other products.

Next: Matt Capozzi and Nathan Connolly, Accessible Snowboard Inventors ›

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