Handcycle racing is an exciting sport as shown by the nail-biting finish to the H4 handcycle race at the London Paralympics, with Ernst van Dyk winning the silver medal in an adrenalin-filled sprint for the finish line. However, not everyone is born to race, so here are some options to help you get fit and have fun in the outdoors.

These handcycles are best suited for recreational riding or touring. They are generally easier to get on and off than the race-bred models, and hence suitable for beginners and those who just need to be outside to enjoy our great weather.

There are two basic types of entry-level handcycles – purpose built cycles and clip-ons (designed to clip onto a rigid-frame wheelchair. Clip-on handcycle attachments are popular as the rider can remain seated on their wheelchair, attach the front wheel mechanism and ride off without needing to transfer. There are many different models to choose from, some are completely manual, others are power-assisted, but all require a rigid-frame wheelchair. Clip-ons and power attachments will be covered in a follow-up article.

Purpose-built handcycles such as the TopEndForce 2, Excelerator, XLT and XLT Pro offer an easy entry into handcycling, and are great for cross-training for other sports as well. The Execlerator is an upright handcycle, built like a wheelchair with an integrated front driven wheel. The seating is similar to a wheelchair with your legs bent at 90 degrees. There is also an Excelerator Junior for kids. The Excelerator has a 7 speed internal hub gearing system and a back-pedal brake, so if your hand strength is compromised this is a good option as you dont need to use finger strength to brake.

The XLT model has a lower seating design for better cornering, also had 7 speed internal hub and back-pedal brakes. The riders legs are extended out to the front, with the knees slightly bent. There is also an XLT Junior model for the kids – a great way to get them started in handcycling.

The XLT Pro is the same design as the XLT but with 27 speed gearing – so now there are 2 gear changers to contend with and the brakes are std bicycle lever brakes. The following is a quote from a new handcyclist who has been riding about 10 months, has built up his riding from battling to ride 6km to easily managing rides of 60 to 70km, and sums up the Force 2 perfectly: “The Force 2 is a great entry-level bike to assist you in becoming familiar with the world of para-cycling and hosts a number of standard features from a regular bicycle to make it as affordable as possible. Almost every important adjustment is possible to fine-tune your position and make you feel comfortable, such as the back-rest, crank in/out and up/down and foot-rests. The Force 2 is very sturdy on the road and reaches the speeds of even the most exclusive hand-cycles available. This hand-bike is good value-for-money and will get your new hand-cycling career off the ground”.

Quickie Sopur have discontinued their recreational handcycles and now have only the Shark handcycle model available (not covered in this article).

NB inch measurements are used as that is what you will need to use when ordering. One inch is approximately 25mm.