Every day, Othmar Zoll (66) is out and about on his handbike, which he has upgraded with the maxon bike motor. Inclines that used to be insurmountable are no longer a problem. He easily masters them, with a smile on his face.

Othmar, since when have you been using a handbike?
I came across it around 15 years ago. First I had a model without a motor; later I added electrical support. Since the fall of 2015, I've been hitting the road with the maxon BIKEDRIVE. I installed the retrofitting kit, consisting of motor, battery and Powergrip, on my handbike by myself.

 

What is the difference between the BIKEDRIVE and the previous motor you had?
Now I can also manage steep climbs that used to be impossible. And since we live in hilly terrain, that is quite an important factor for me. The additional torque of the drive is what makes the difference.

 

How did you become aware of the maxon drive?
Through a bicycle dealer I know. I then contacted maxon, and a little while later I was able to install the spoked wheel at home.

What does your handbike mean to you?
For me, the handbike with the motor means great freedom. I can reach so many different places, am outside in the fresh air – it's simply a lot of fun. I cycle between 20 and 40 kilometers every day, even in winter.

The handbike also has an additional positive effect. When people see me with it, they know that I am active and can manage quite well on my own, in spite of having to use a wheelchair. As a result, they interact with me in a natural way – at eye level, so to speak.

 

When you are on the road, do you meet other wheelchair users that ride a handbike?
Hardly any, and that astonishes me. It would do many people a lot of good. Especially with such a motor, you can only benefit. I can drive long distances, keep pace with other cyclists, and simultaneously exercise my shoulders. And the electrical support ensures that my joints are not strained. That is very important. Many wheelchair users suffer shoulder problems due to the daily strain. The handbike is like therapy for me. It's been a long time since I've had joint problems.

Keen on sports

Othmar is a retired interior designer and artist and, at 66, still keen on sports. Although he has been in a wheelchair for half his life, he does not let it limit him in any way. Especially not since he discovered the handbike. He can mount it to his wheelchair with a few easy steps and powers it with his arms, by means of the hand grips.