Manchester-based bike brand Insync has teamed up with a part-time inventor to enable disabled children to experience riding a bike.
Les McMahon has engineered a trike that allows his young neighbour, Lewis Flint, to get out on the roads with his parents, Dawn and Andy.
The trike, which is much cheaper to make than alternatives, is set to be available to families all over the world after Indian-owned Insync’s new Global Design Centre in Manchester stepped in to help Les refine his invention.
Les, from Ellenbrook, Worsley, had seen the couple struggle to help Lewis, who has an undiagnosed genetic condition, experience cycling with the rest of the family. He communicates through an aid, has no independent mobility and relies on other people for his personal care.
Mum, Dawn describes the 13-year-old as a “white-knuckle child” who enjoys going to his local ski slope and attending an adventure centre where he takes on challenges like rock climbing. Cycling was one hobby they wanted him to be able to join in with, but they couldn’t find a suitable solution.
They had tried options including using straps to attach his hands to handlebars and his feet to pedals but, without his wheelchair, he was left feeling uncomfortable. That also meant he had to be carried whenever the family reached their destination, which would become more difficult the older he became.
Les’s solution involves a ‘sidecar’ fitted to a bike, with a bike to roll on the wheelchair. After drawing up a sketch, with Dawn’s approval, he spent two to three months making the trike using parts donated by various people. Lewis’s condition means he has other complications and trikes where his wheelchair is at the front of the vehicle would be unsuitable. With Les’s design, his parents can see him at all times, meaning they can ensure he is physically ok but also enjoy riding together, too.
A video of Les and Lewis using the finished vehicle caught the interest of people from around the world getting in touch to praise his idea – and ask how they could get one. See: watch here
Les then contacted Hero to investigate making the trike available on a larger scale, and the brand, which has its global design centre in Manchester, was only too happy to help.
Les, a former engineer, said: “I’d seen the family struggling and I knew they were really keen on getting Lewis to experience everything an able-bodied child can, so I knew there was a real need for the trike. I got lucky in that the design just came together and when Hero invited us to demonstrate the bike it was too good an opportunity to miss.
“It’s quite humbling and uplifting to think you’ve helped somebody with basic DIY skills and it seems inconceivable that, with Hero’s help, we might be able to change other people’s lives, too.”
Dawn, who also has a son, Cameron, 14, said Lewis loves fresh air and speed but finding activities he can take part in can sometimes be a struggle.
She said: “I don’t think we could have found a better neighbour. Les has been phenomenal in the time and energy he’s put in to make this for Lewis so that we can all go out on a bike ride. He absolutely loves it and it means we can go for a ride in the sunshine and then go to a café.
“It’s amazing to think Les made this in his garage and now Hero is going to help him so that other families could benefit like we have.”
Abhishek Pratap Singh, head of design at Insync said the company, owed by Hero Cycles the world’s biggest bike maker, was delighted to help once they heard about Les’s design and the benefits it had brought to the Flint family.
He said: “Insync is a family bike brand and we believe cycling is a force for good improving mental and physical health and bringing the family together for quality time. We want to make cycling more accessible to everyone including those with special needs. We are very keen to support Les because we can see the difference his trike has made to Lewis’s life and how it could help others.
“Our design team is now working with Les to make his invention more mature and we’d like to create a trike for the general market so that more families with children with special needs can benefit. Our design is set to be much cheaper at around £500 compared than alternatives which start at around £5000 so our version will be much more accessible to families. We are planning to create a ‘flat pack’ kit that will enable families to assemble it at home or alternatively we are going to offer a download design so people can create their own versions of the trike. We’d like to include the trike as part of the new Insync family bike brand we have created for the UK and European market.”
Notes to editors
The Insync range is designed in the UK and manufactured in India. It has four sub-brands Viking, Riddick, DeNovo and Ryedale and is the culmination of four years of work following Hero’s purchase of Manchester, UK based bike distribution house Avocet Sports in 2015. The deal saw Hero invest £2million in a new ‘Global Design Centre’ in Manchester, which opened in 2017. The centre is charged with designing bikes for developed country markets.
Hero Cycles Limited
Hero Cycles Limited was founded in India in 1956. It is the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world by volume producing 19,000 cycles per day and 5.2million per year. This represents one out of every 20 of the world’s bicycles. Hero Cycles has manufacturing units in Ludhiana (Punjab), Bihta (Bihar) & Ghaziabad (UP). It is part of the Hero Motors Company which has revenues of $400million and $1.2billion in assets employing circa 8,000 staff.The company exports to more than 70 countries through a network of circa 250 suppliers and 2800 dealerships. Its bike range includes road bikes, hybrid bikes, children’s bikes, electric-bikes, mountain bikes, BMX and roadster models. Hero in India also manufactures automobile components like chassis for cars, safety components and transmission for motorcycles.
In August 2015, it acquired British brand Avocet Sports with 51pc stake targeting high-end bicycle market in Europe and now has full ownership. In 2015, it also acquired Firefox Bikes – India’s largest premium bicycle brand with an established presence Pan-India through a network of 160 outlets. In 2016, it acquired a majority stake in Sri Lanka’s leading bicycle manufacturer BSH Ventures, further boosting its manufacturing capacity. As part of major expansion plans across Europe it launched the £2million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre (HGD) in Manchester, UK, in January 2017. The design hub is led by creative minds from across the world including innovators from India, Taiwan and Denmark.
Hero Cycles is ISO9001 & ISO14001 Certified from BVC of UK and recognized by the R&D department by the Govt. of India.