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Handcycle: The One-Off Mountain Handcycle

One of my biggest frustrations was my inability to move around my 1.7 acre yard which has an average slope of 23 degrees. It defeats my manual chair which just tips over. My power chair is even less suited to the yard. It gets stuck and digs holes in the ground.

The One-Off Handcycle
I finally found a vehicle that is capable of negotiating my steep yard. It's called a One-Off and is hand made by Mike Augspurger of Titaniumarts in Massachussetts. (See

Handcycle by Mike Augspurger, Titaniumarts
If you ride it on the road, you need a flag (which you don't see here). You ride much lower than a regular bicycle and need to be certain people see you.

The One-Off without a rider
That thing that looks like it might be a seat in the middle of the handcycle isn't. When you are pedaling with your hands, your chest rests on that pad and you press to the right or the left to steer. It isn't hard to get used to.

back wheel has 8 gears and a disc brake
The back wheel has eight gears. You can also see one of the three disc brakes on the other side of the wheel.

The One-Off has two Mountain Drives
The handcycle has two Mountain Drives. Most of the mountain drive mechanism is hidden inside with the pedal axle. You can see the large, cylindrical silver "button" that you push to change the Mountain Drive's gear. You push a button on the other side to go back to the other gear.

The second Mountain Drive is hidden underneath
The second Mountain Drive is hidden underneath and between the driver's legs. It is accessed through a hole in the black knee-rest, Press the button in and the Mountain Drive is engaged. Press a button on the other side and it changes back. The eight gears in the back and the two mountain drives combine to give you 24 gears. They are geared much wider than a normal bicycle. The highest gear gives a top pedaling speed of around 12 to 15 mph while the lowest gear enables you to climb really steep hills. This makes the One-Off a super off-road hand-powered hill-climbing vehicle.

The Seating arrangement
Here is a close-up of the seating arrangement. Both knees go into the depressions on each side. The driver's bottom is cushioned against the tilted back seat. The driver's weight is on his hands and knees. His (or her) upper body weight can be used to help press down on the pedals. That produces more power. There is a seatbelt, and both feet can be belted to keep them from straying. Again, that thing that looks like you might sit on top of is really the chest-operated steering mechanism called the steering wheel, even though it isn't a wheel.

You Steer with your chest
Perhaps the most unusual part of this handcycle is the chest steering mechanism. The driver normally steers by pressing against and rotating the chest cushion which is connected to the steerable front wheels. The driver can also use the handlebars to steer. They are employed while careening downhill. Note, the brakes are also on the handlebars. In some cases, I steer/brake with one hand and pedal with the other.

It climbs really steep hills
In this picture I tried to give you an idea of how steep a hill the One-Off can climb. When I took this picture I had ridden it less than an hour, but I was able to climb my 23 degree slope yard with ease. When I hit rocky patches covered with wet leaves, I did slip, but I'm not using the fattest knobby tire available.The tricky part is going sideways on a hill. On steep hills it is fairly easy to tip over sideways. I have done that several times, but since I was wearing the seat belt and foot straps, I just roll on over and come up on the wheels again.

Hands can be used on the handlebars
This shows the position of the hands when hand-steering.

Hands are also used for steering
Otherwise, the hands are used for pedaling.

I'm headed for the open road on my One-Off
Forget the computer and web pages and sitting, sitting, sitting. I'm headed for the open road. While the One-Off is geared much lower than any bicycle, I can still use it as a road bike even if I don't go much faster than 10 mph. (Downhill is another matter!)

To avoid tipping over I have to Lean
This is a five mile Oak Ridge Greenway that gets far away from the crowd. It is paralleling a field at this point and is steep enough that I am close to the tipping over angle. So, I have to lean to the high-side.

I'm headed for the open road on my One-Off
The Northern Ridge Greenway is seven miles over challenging hills through beautiful woods on a well-pressed, old gravel road. To get back to the starting point you travel three more miles on asphalt, or you double back on the gravel road. I took the asphalt route. Hey, give me a break. I'm 59, overweight, and it pooped me out. But it was fun!

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