Morphing handcycle

In a stretched-out low-rider position, it’s a traditional bicycle – but when morphed into high-rider position, it can navigate doorways and aisles.

It’s the morphing handcycle. In a stretched-out low-rider position, it’s a traditional bicycle – but when “morphed” into high-rider position, it has a wheelchair’s agility for navigating doorways and aisles. It also puts the user at eye level with standing persons.

The morphing handcycle involves no electronics. To morph into high-riding position, the rider sets the brake and rolls the rear wheels forward, as with a wheelchair. The 24-speed cycle employs twin mechanical gas shocks, specified for the rider’s weight, that assist in the lift, enabling the user to switch to high-riding mode with single-hand force. Other components are standard bike parts.

Rory McCarthy, Bill Warner, and Graham Butler designed the machine under the aegis of McCarthy and Warner’s nonprofit Move With Freedom, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Butler, the product designer, turned McCarthy’s high-level designs into detailed virtual prototypes using Solidworks software. ’This was critical in conceiving and refining the four-bar linkage and the crankset/steering assembly, which needs to turn smoothly in both low- and high-riding positions. As a result, we’ve got a highly functioning physical prototype ready for user feedback,’ said McCarthy.

The morphing handcycle embodies Move With Freedom’s commitment to easy and natural mobility for all. Rather than commercially protect it with patents, the company generously intends to donate the finished design to the public domain so that others can customise it for their own needs.

Move With Freedom’s next project is a morphing wheelchair, which would make it easy for users to surmount a curb without risking a backward flip.

Move With Freedom’s founding supporters include authorised SolidWorks reseller CAPINC (Computer-Aided Products). Through its ’Engineers in Action’ community involvement program, CAPINC has provided Move With Freedom additional grants for ongoing training, service, and support.

A video of the bike in action can be seen at http://www.viddler.com/billwarner35/videos/3/