Accidents that lead to paralysis can be devastating. Even though mobility becomes limited in such accidents, the active spirit of the individual does not. Thankfully, technology allows for individuals to continue to be active even after these accidents. Such is the case with cycling. Handcycles offer the best opportunity for those with disabilities who want to continue being active cyclists. Ever since they were developed in the 1980s, handcycles have opened up a new world to competitive and recreational cyclists. Handcycles offer a wonderful, alternative way to strengthening cardiovascular health and upper body strength.


Handcycles, as the name suggests, are like bicycles but are hand-powered. Usually tricycles in form, these handbikes have two rear wheels and a front steerable wheel. Hand cranks on either side help steer and propel the bike forward. They are designed allow the rider to use their whole body to steer and power the bike. Depending on the intended use, handbikes come in different shapes and sizes. They are available for touring, racing, off-roading, or as simple, everyday recreational rides.

Upright handcycles are generally recommended for beginning riders, and are not built to go higher than about 15 mph. Recumbent handcycles are more varied. They have two available steering options: fork-steer (more popular system) and lean-to-steer. They also have different seating options which allow the rider to either lean back or lean forward. Brand new handcycles, on average, range in cost from $1,500-$4,000.

The U.S. Handcycle Federation is the governing body for handcycle racing in the United States. The International Cycling Union (or Union Cyclist Internationale) is the world  governing body for international competitive cycling. In 2009, the International Cycling Union established a unified classification system for handcycles to make competitive cycling easier to judge and to specify the bikes that are built to accommodate various levels of restricted mobility. These four classes (H1–H4) help riders identify the kinds of bicycles they can use. Classes H3 and H4 are specifically for paraplegics and amputees; the difference between the two is determined by whether the rider can kneel on the handcycle or not. H3 can use AP2, AP3, and ATP2 handcycles while the H4 classification can use an ATP3 handcycle.

Handcycling and Para-cycling Opportunities in Utah

The following table provided by the USA paralympics website provides contact information for sources for those who are interested in pursuing opportunities to compete or to join others in group recreational riding here in Utah.

Organization State Contact
Salt Lake County Adaptive Recreation – Paralympic Sport Salt Lake County
8446 S. Harrison St.
Midvale, UT 84047
UT Jeff Burley
National Ability Center – Paralympic Sport Park City
1000 Ability Way
Park City, UT 84060
UT Ellen Adams
University of Utah Health Care Rehabilitation Center – TRAILS – Paralympic Sport Club Salt Lake City
50 North Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
UT Tanja Kari
Utah Wheelin’ Jazz
7255 S. Swan Hill Dr.
West Jordan, UT 84084
UT Jeff Griffin
Team River Runner Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
UT Tim Troy
Common Ground Outdoor Adventures
335 North 100 East
Logan, UT 84321
UT Sammie Macfarlane
(435) 713-0288

USA Cycling Amateur and Para-cycling Road National Championships

The USA Cycling Amateur and Para-cycling Road National Championships are held every year. This year they will be held July 3-7 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Source: Adaptive Handcycling