Manchester bike brand Insync Bikes has given a teenager her first-ever bike after being inspired by hearing how she had learned to ride using her new bionic arm.
Fourteen-year-old Aimee Ashton, from Hull, who was born with part of her arm missing and no left hand, told her parents she wanted to be ‘normal’ and ride a bike like others her age, but struggled using her prosthetic limb.
She was fitted with the ‘Hero Arm’, a battery-powered arm developed by Bristol-based Open Bionics, and has been learning to ride on two wheels on mum Sam Thirkettle’s bike.
When Insync spotted her pictured on one of its own Viking branded cycles, the business stepped in to give her a bike of her very own – an Insync Townmaster ebike from their range.
The bike was presented to the Tesla fan, at a safe distance, by Simon Jobes, of Hull-based independent bike dealer Jobes Cycles, on behalf of Insync, owned by India-based Hero Cycles.
Dad Dean Ashton said: “Aimee loves anything electric, she’s a mad Tesla fan, so receiving the gift of an ebike from Insync is just fabulous and we’re really grateful. She’s always ridden a three-wheeler but started to feel self-conscious as she got older and that was when she told us she just wanted to be normal. The whole reason for us looking into the bionic arm was to enable her to ride a bike and, now she’s got it, it’s given her a whole new feeling of independence and confidence.
“Having the Hero Arm has turned something negative into a positive – something she used to hide away is now something she’s proud of and she has other children saying it looks cool.”
Aimee said: “I used to see other teenagers riding their bikes and I just wanted to join in, because it looked like great fun. I’m really pleased with my new e-bike from Insync and so grateful, it’s given me so much more confidence in learning to ride. I’m most looking forward to spending more time outside and having a better chance of being able to meet up with my friends in the future.”
Wayne Clarke, head of IBD sales at Insync Bikes, said: “Aimee’s story is inspiring for us all and we were amazed to hear how her life has been transformed by her Hero Arm. Insync is a family brand that is passionate about cycling as a force for good mental and physical health. We believe everyone should be able to experience the joy of cycling, regardless of their age or ability, and that’s why we were keen to give Aimee her first bike to enable her to continue her new hobby. We are delighted she accepted our gift and we look forward to hearing about her successes in the future.”
Richard Jobes, co-owner of Jobes Cycles, said they were delighted to supply Aimee with the e-bike.
He said: “It’s inspiring to hear that Aimee has learned to ride and discovered a passion for cycling so we are pleased to be the ones to be presenting her with her first bike. In the bike trade, we are seeing e-bike sales growing massively as they become more and more popular for many reasons. They keep a lot of people cycling, who may have previously had to give up the sport, and they enable people to go out to exercise for a lot longer than they would on a traditional bike. We wish Aimee many happy hours on her new e-bike.”
Insync prides itself on being a brand for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and aims to nurture a love of cycling. The business is currently working with a part-time inventor to build a trike to enable special needs children to experience riding a bike. The trike, designed by Les McMahon for his young neighbour Lewis Flint, involves a ‘sidecar’ fitted to a bike, with a ramp to roll on the wheelchair.
Bristol-based Open Bionics is an award-winning prosthetics company that creates bionic limbs. Parents Dean Ashton and Sam Thirkettle discovered the business while researching options for Aimee, who had become self-conscious about using a trike but struggled with adaptations to a two-wheeled bike. Aimee’s arm, costing £10,500, was paid for via the company’s charitable trust and was fitted in December 2019.
The arm picks up signals from the wearer’s muscles, allowing them to do tasks with both hands, and can hold a position in freeze mode. For Aimee this has meant being able to grip handlebars, allowing her to learn how to ride mum Sam’s bike.