Innovations: Sports Sensations

It wasn’t that long ago that sports technologies for wheelchair users — from handcycles to sit-skis — were cobbled together in the garages of individuals. In more recent years, larger wheelchair manufacturers entered the market, increasing consumer access to sports-related mobility products. However, the cutting edge still remains with entrepreneurial manufacturers who push adaptive sports equipment to the next level, where innovation truly meets recreation.

Lasher Sport, a premier custom ultralight wheelchair maker, recently launched arguably the most high-tech handcycle ever built. Made from magnesium frame tubing — which is 65 percent lighter than titanium, and as strong as 6061-T6 aluminum — Lasher’s Handcycle Elite aims at being more efficient to propel. Weighing 28 pounds (lighter than many two-wheelers), the Handcycle Elite features top-of-the-line construction and components throughout, from a carbon fiber seat to all Shimano running gear to Spinergy wheels.

Lasher’s Handcycle Elite transitions from a road racer to an  indoor trainer within five minutes. The Handcycle Elite computer interfaces with the RacerMate computer trainer, where, by using the cycle on rollers, a computerized system, including a visual screen, simulates varying road conditions. Plus, RacerMate technology allows the user to trace an actual road ride with GPS, then load it into the indoor trainer, allowing the simulated cycling of one’s courses in the comfort and safety of, say, one’s living room.

The Lasher Sport Handcycle Elite isn’t cheap — starting at $8,495 — but for hardcore handcyclists, it offers nothing short of cutting-edge technology.

With the winter ski season quickly approaching, Enabling Technologies has introduced its new bi-ski configuration for the 2009-2010 ski season, the Bi-Unique Mega II2. As the latest-generation bi-ski, the Bi-Unique Mega II2 features a self-loading chair-lift mechanism — “Glove Seating System” — that conforms to the user. Also, it has all-aluminum construction and integrated evacuation harnessing. Yet, it’s the Bi-Unique Mega II2’s actual skis that set it apart. Engineered using state-of-the-art alpine ski materials, the ultralight, 34-ounce skis are designed exclusively for bi-ski use — and superior performance. Shaped and sized for bi-skiing, the Bi-Unique Mega II2’s skis offer 10 degrees of tuning, allowing skiers of varying disability levels stability and control — all for a reasonable $2,500 price tag.

A huge hit at the Abilities Expos this year has been the Trevair Chair — an everyday ultralight wheelchair that takes suspension to a whole new level. Injured in a snowboarding accident in 1997, Trevor “Trevair” Snowden set the extreme sports world ablaze by performing wheelchair jumping exhibitions in a custom-made all-terrain wheelchair, ultimately setting a world record for the longest wheelchair jump. Now, Snowden has applied his suspension know-how to an everyday ultralight manual wheelchair for extreme use, the Trevair Chair.

Boasting a frame weight of only 18.5 pounds, the Trevair Chair, made of aircraft aluminum and chromoly materials, is the lightest suspension wheelchair ever offered. With its weight efficiencies and a sleek, compact, one-piece mono-tube frame, the Trevair Chair is very practical mobility; but, what makes it extraordinary is its 7.5 inches of independent rear-wheel suspension travel. From common lumps and bumps during everyday use, to 4-foot drops — as demonstrated by Snowden — the Trevair Chair has amazing absorption qualities, soaking up the roughest terrain.

Available in 10 colors, the Trevair Chair is one-size-fits all, with sizing geared toward those who use a 16-18 inch wide seat; however, some custom modifications are available. At a base price of $1,999, the Trevair Chair is remarkably affordable for a high-end true suspension wheelchair — and makes a great second ultralight wheelchair for extreme outdoor enthusiasts.

Indeed, every year adaptive sports equipment evolves, allowing athletes with disabilities to travel farther and faster, shred the slopes more precisely, and even traverse rough terrain more smoothly.

Resources:
• Enabling Technologies, 866/936-0232, www.superlite.org.
• Lasher Sport, 907/529-8833, www.lashersport.com.
• Trevair Chair, 775/783-9374, www.trevair.com.

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