Vincent Ross is MD of Chevron Wheelchairs. He manufactures handcycles which use a standard bike mechanism but are pedalled with the hands, rather than feet. So far he’s sold through the disability market and a few cycle retailers interested in clients with special needs, but now he wants to open it up to conventional cycle retailers.
"These machines are to do with cycling, not just to do with disability any more," he says. "I cycle with able-bodied people all the time, so it’s not as if it’s a different world."
Liverpool-based Chevron has been in the wheelchair business for 12 years but Ross started adding handcycle adaptations five years ago. "We’ve had a number of enquiries from general cycle shops recently. Just about everyone knows someone who has a disability so the interest is definitely there."
The range includes tandems, recumbents, off-road, trikes plus suspension and powered models. They can be sold as a whole unit, or as an adaptation which can be easily fixed onto most wheelchairs. They are incredibly manoeverable and don’t demand super-strength.
"The Easyrider got its name because it is so easy to use, not because of some 1960s road movie," says Ross. "Ninety per cent of customers want them for leisure, to cycle with family rather than use them as transport. They really put you back into the countryside. You can ride them as far and as fast as you want – people have gone from Land’s End to John O’Groats and from the top of Japan to the bottom."
Selling them is equally straight forward. "You do need to know a bit about disability for some of the equipment but there1s not a lot to learn about the machines. You push forwards to go forwards, back to stop, the seat slides backwards and forwards and you1ve got seven Shimano gears.
"It may not be right for a small, corner cycle shop but I would like some of the larger cycle stores to start stocking them."