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Article of Interest - Assistive Technology

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Wheelchair Bike is Star of Show
Geoff Adams-Spink, BBC News, July 8, 2005
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A new British-made motorcycle for wheelchair users was the start of this year's Mobility Roadshow in the UK.

The Conquest is based on BMW 850 or 1150 motorbikes which have been integrated into a racing car-type aluminum body shell.

Its creator, Alan Martin, came up with the idea after his son became disabled following an accident.

The company will be launching the Conquest in August and hopes to sell 100 in the first year of production.

The bike was on show at the Mobility Roadshow, an exhibition of products for people with mobility impairments, at Donnington Park in Derbyshire over the weekend.

"My son's now walking again so he doesn't need it," Mr. Martin told the BBC News website.

"But I've built this beautiful machine which I feel will enhance the lives of so many disabled people."

'Steady as a rock'

The Conquest is designed to be driven from the rider's wheelchair and should be suitable for people without the use of their legs but with good upper body mobility.

It has been developed with assistance from the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD) and the Manchester Business School among others.

Young theme for roadshow

Although it was in the planning for four years, Mr. Martin could always see the finished product in his mind's eye.

"I have to admit I'm so proud of it because it's come out just as I visualised it."

The 'trike' will cost 18,500 - about the same as a new family car - and Mr. Martin hopes it will appeal to former bikers who are no longer able to climb into the saddle, as well as aspiring disabled riders.

The 1150cc version will accelerate from 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds and has a top speed of 85mph.

But Mr. Martin says the one he drove on a test track topped 100mph and was "as steady as a rock".

Freedom of the road

The first person to buy a Conquest is former climber, Carl Brunning from East Yorkshire.

Before his climbing accident, Mr. Brunning was a keen motorcyclist and he says he cannot wait to start riding his new machine.

"This is a totally new concept, a trike that is safe and which gives you independence and the freedom of the road," he said.

Mr. Brunning's only other experience of motorcycling after his accident was as a side-car passenger.

He says with the Conquest he feels like an integral part of the machine.

The manufacturers, Martin Conquest Ltd, have begun negotiations with Motability, the organisation that provides lease vehicles for disabled people.

If the Conquest is accepted, it could be become available to thousands of disabled people who are eligible for assistance from the scheme.

     

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