We received several encouraging comments to our recent post on Cathryn “Cat” Hammes, whose body and Harley Fat Boy took a terrible beating in a devastating 2006 motorcycle accident. Despite losing one leg, this strong-willed blonde biker is an inspiration to disabled bikers everywhere. After suffering multiple skull fractures, internal injuries, and a leg amputation, Cat recovered through sheer will and determination to ride again. Cat faced a struggle common to many disabled and amputee motorcyclists – finding the right prosthetic system and motorcycle adaptations that would allow her to get back on her Harley. Fortunately, she found what she needed.
Whether a person is disabled because of a motorcycle accident, birth defect, illness, or other accident, the key to riding a motorcycle with disabilities is finding the right adaptations. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for disabled motorcyclists. The Amputee Coalition has a great article on adaptive modifications for amputee motorcyclists, written by Dr. Jeffery Cain, who is a bilateral amputee biker. In the article, Dr. Cain says that due to the small market for motorcycle adaptations, many disabled bikers may be better off contacting a local cycle shop to find a craftsman willing to modify their motorcycles to fit their needs.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) lists several individuals and companies selling products to help motorcyclists with disabilities on their website, although the organization does not endorse or test these products. A few of the common motorcycle adaptations or modifications that can be made to accommodate amputees include:
For leg amputations – Heal extensions to modify the shift lever, moving the shifter to the right side for right leg amputees, and moving the rear wheel brake to the left side for right leg amputees.
For arm amputations – Rerouting brake, throttle, or clutch controls to one side of the motorcycle so the rider can operate the bike with one hand. Many arm amputees also purchase customized prosthetics that allow them to use the brake or clutch with ease.
There are some organizations, albeit not many, available to provide support and information to disabled motorcyclists. If you or someone you love suffers from a disability that prohibits you from riding your bike, here are some resources to check out:
Amputee Coalition http://www.amputee-coalition.org/