in The Paralympics

Handcycling at the patalympics.

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Handcycling is a competitive sport that is similar to biking.

A handcycle is a type of human powered land vehicle powered by the arms rather than the legs, as on a bicycle. Most handcycles are tricycle in form, with two coasting rear wheels and one steerable powered front wheel. Despite usually having three wheels, they are also known as handbikes.

While it is more popular for persons with disabilities, the sport is open to all individuals who are interested in biking using their upper limbs.

In 2002, the sport became part of the US Paralympics, and not long after it became part of other Special Olympics events around the world. Because of its inclusion in such occasions, governing bodies of the sport have already made it a point not to allow athletes who came from elite training as a way to create equal opportunity among participants.


Different governing bodies that handle competitions provide different rules when it comes to the equipment to be used. However, among the basic rules these bodies have imposed when selecting a handcycle for competitive purposes include:

The seat should have a 45 degree minimum seat back angle. According to the new rules, the rider’s eyes must be above the bottom cranks so that they can have a safe line of sight.

Disc wheels are allowed in all of the races.

Tri-spoke wheels are not allowed in handcycle race

According to the 2009 US Handcycling Series rules, the chassis frame tubes of the handcycle do not have to be straight. The front wheel should be steerable, and a single wheel that is located on the front or rear, should be driven through a system that uses a chain and handgrips.

The seat of the handcycle must be adjusted to an upright position, so that the rider’s bodyweight will be supported by the seat during the race.

There are also other gear and equipment required in professional competitions. Athletes should wear a helmet, elbow pads and sports outfits when racing. Riders are also mandated to wear socks and shoes during the race.

Classification of Competing Athletes

In the United States, athletes who wish to join competitions should first be members of U.S. Handcycling Federation. They are also required to secure a USA Cycling license to become eligible for competition. Once they have acquired these licenses, they will undergo classification in the Union Cycliste International (UCI).

Athletes who have not yet received a classification from the UCI may apply for preliminary classification to be conducted by a representative of the USHF. The classification process is composed of an interview and observation of the USHF representative. Athletes who get approved of the classification may start competing professionally.


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