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I would like to race and need the 27 speed external gearing but am a quad with limited hand function. What are my options as most shifters and brakes require good hand strength?

We have been working with several people with quadriplegia and have found some great solutions! There is an elbow activated brake that has been super. To shift gears we use a fork mounted double tap shifter that can be shifted on the fly while pedaling OR an elbow activated shifter and brake combination.

What are the key things I need to check each time I ride?
Great question. You should check your tire pressure, brakes, the security of the rear wheels (make sure the axle is tight), check that the hook and loop fastener on the seat positioning strap and footrests works properly, check your helmet, safety flag, mirror and make sure you have a charged cell phone.

I have a hard time turning in tight spots with my Force R. I would assume that most of the Force series handcycles would have the same solutions. Please share how this is done. The key to turning any of the Force Series handcycles in a tight corner involves the "pump" method. If you cannot make a full turn, just crank a half or quarter crank, bring the crank back up again, turn a little bit a at time until you "pump" your way around. If you need to turn a full 180, you will need to keep the handpedals in the up postion so the cables do not get tangled up and push backwards on the rear wheel with your other hand. Then you would do the "pump" forwards and manually push backwards until you are turned around.

How do you transfer in and out of the Force or Force R? They look so low to the ground. With some practice and observing other athletes it can be done with ease! Some people use a "step" method by first transfering to an inbetween height step stool. Here is the best way: In: Place the crank arms in the 2 o'clock position so you have more space for your body. Engage the parking brake, move close to the handcycle and engage your wheelchair's wheel locks if equipped. Place one leg across the seat and one hand on the far side of the handcycle seat, then transfer down. Be sure to secure your feet in the leg rest straps and use the seat belt. Out: Reverse the procedure using the rigid back rest to push off. Transfer in and out of Force X Hancycle.

How do I figure out which is the best handcycle for me? The first question to ask yourself is "Why do I want one? Is it for recreation or am I more serious and plan to race or go on long distance rides?" If recreation is your goal, the Excelerator and XLT are great models as they feature a low maintenance 7 speed hub with reverse hands-on braking. For touring, long distances or hilly terrain we recommend the XLT PRO. For racing, the fastest handcycles are any of those in the Top End Force Series. For complete details check our product catalog.

What are the main differences between the Top End Force, Force R, Force X, Force G and XLT PRO?   
The Top End Force, Force-2, Force R and Force X are arm-powered, super-reclined, lay down, low to the ground, aerodynamic handycle that compares to what everyone in Europe is using. This style is used by H1,2 or 3 Classifcations. The XLT PRO offers a reclined position but a higher seat height than the Force or Force R so it is mainly used for touring not racing. The Force G is primarily a trunk powered unit and best for those with great trunk control but not as aerodynamic so it is not a model usually chosen for racing but if it were those using it would be a H3 Classification. The Force K is a kneeling position and used by only the most able or H4 Classification.

I want to go the distance, possibly race. Which seating position should I choose? This really depends on your goals and your disability. There are three different positions: the recumbent position, the trunk powered position and the kneeling position. • The recumbent style is when you are reclined in a semi-lying position using mostly arm, shoulder and chest muscles. It is relaxed and very aerodynamic. This position is preferred by paraplegics (T10 level and above) and quadriplegics. • The trunk-powered position is a position where you sit up straighter utilizing a rocking motion that applies your whole upper body including your trunk. For this position you need good balance. • The third position is the kneeling or amputee position and this requires excellent balance. You sit flat or angled downhill and then lean forward to generate power.

How fast will I go? Speed depends on your seating position, fitness level and disability. Top speed of over 30 MPH are possible. I train with other riders, (even able bodied ones) plus use a cordless speedometer and heart rate monitor to help me get faster.

If a person is just starting out, are there some key words of advice on how to operate a handcycle?    The first key thing is to make sure you know where and how to use the brake. Handcycling is so much fun, you can get going and forget this really easily. 2nd-Most people complain that the handpedals hit their legs while turning. To avoid this, you should coast through the turns with the handpedals in the "up" position. 3rd-The chain falls off. This is a common mistake of not knowing how to and when to change the gears. Basically, don't cross the chain or have the upper chain ring in the largest (most difficult) ring and in the easiest gear on the bottom as this "crosses" the chain too much and it will fall off.

Are there any tutorials or videos on how to change all those gears? I found this website that is geared towards bicycles but works the same as a handcycle. See if this helps. http://bicycletutor.com/gear-shifting/

What crank width is best? Crank width is dependant on shoulder width and leg clearance requirements. A good rule of thumb would be to select what is currently listed as standard on the order forms. Athletes are "spinning" more with higher rpm and using more narrow and shorter cranks.

How do I determine the best crank length and width? The crank length is not necessarily determined by the length of the cycler's arms. Most competitive racers in Force handcycles are using shorter (170mm - 185mm) and narrower (14" - 16") crank arms and spinning rather than muscling the gears. The crank height and back placement are positioned to make sure the cranks don't hit the legs or chest rather than the crank length being compromised for this situation. A strong cycler may want to have longer cranks to increase the leverage he/she is able to generate into the crank but the longer crank arms could wear down a newer or weaker cycler. Making smaller crank circles does not cause the cycler to exert as much energy. The crank width is more determined by the chest and leg widths. This is especially true with the Force G handcycle when the cycler's torso is used to crank and is sometimes positioned slightly over the crank assembly and the S cranks are used to clear the chest and legs. Generally speaking, it is best for a new handcycle owner to choose the standard lengths and widths listed on the order form. The crank arms are easily replaceable and after the cycler has used them for some time, he/she will be able to make a better decision about these dimensions.

What crank length should I choose? The cranks should complement your sitting position and body size. At the end of your peddle stroke your arms should be slightly bent and not fully extended. The more you move your body the longer the crank can be. Most people in the reclined position use crank lengths between 160-170 mm. Top End crank arms are designed so that they can be changed easily to try a different length.

Do you have any advice on aerodynamic positioning and set up on a Invacare Top End Force R Handcycle? Team Invacare's Matt Updike shares some great tips on how to achieve this on this video clip.

I have an Invacare Top End Force R Handcycle and want to travel to a race. How do I remove the fork?P lease see this instruction sheet for complete details.

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