Leg Disabilities

An all too common result of motorcycle accidents is severe damage to one leg or the other.
An all too common result of riding motorcycles in the miserable British weather is that many ‘older’ riders suffer arthritic problems, particularly in the knees.
If faced with either result it can mean you are no longer able to safely operate one ‘foot control’ or the other (rear brake or gear pedal).
In this article I will deal with the most common control set-up which is rear brake pedal on the right, gear pedal on the left. (For machines set up in the opposite way the solutions remain the very similar).
In the case of arthritic problems causing pain in the knees the solution can sometimes be as simple as fitting ‘forward’ controls which can alleviate the discomfort of bending your knees. This simple solution has also proven useful for riders who have suffered damage resulting in a ‘fused’ or weak knee and/or ankle joint.
Often though the problem is more severe and then more radical adaption is necessary. In these cases we treat the problem as we would with a leg amputation.

Left leg disabilities:
In motorcycle accidents left leg damage seems to be slightly more common than right leg damage (which is hardly surprising when you think of how common it is for cars to pull out of side roads with no regard for an approaching motorcycle).
Much of the time the result is an amputation, most commonly below the knee (though if the car involved has Bull Bars fitted it usually means amputation above the knee).
In either case the standard gear-change set-up is no longer practical.
There are several methods of adapting the gear change, Without doubt the innovation of the Kliktronic Gear-changer (see the kits page for details) has now become the standard solution. Two engineers from Bury St Edmunds devised the Kliktronic, specifically with disabled riders in mind. (Though now, due to its instantaneous action and ability to operate on many types of machine without the use of the clutch, it has become of great interest to the sporting fraternity).
The Kliktronic is basically an electrically operated remote gear-change system, which is comprised of a dual action solenoid actuator, a weather proof relay/control box and water proof handlebar mounted micro-switches. The whole thing is supplied in an idiot-proof kit (idiot proof at our request, we know our limitations).
The beauty of this system for us is that there is no major fabrication needed to the bike and it can be easily transferred from one bike to the other. The joy of it for the rider is that all gear changing is done with the thumb of the left hand (or right hand) and it’s relatively cheap. They are supplied in chrome because we believe that an adaption shouldn’t look out of place on the machine. (The solenoid just happens to be the right size to fit a beer can over it if like me you hate polishing chrome).
Other methods are to fit a ‘cross over’ linkage which transferred the gear pedal to the right hand side of the machine in front of the rear brake pedal. In this way the right foot operated both gear-change and rear brake. This can also be achieved ‘internally’ by lengthening the gear shaft and bringing it through the right hand casing though this is a much more specialised job and can be very expensive.
Other options have also proven successful such as; A left-hand twist grip operating two cables linked to a rocker-bracket attached to the gear shaft. Or a hand lever mounted beside the tank with a linkage to the gear pedal. But these types of adaption were much less common and tended to be a bit finicky.

Above knee amputation:
In the case of an above knee amputation additional problems may arise, such as keeping the bike upright when stopped or operating a side stand.
Problems with the side stand can usually be solved with a simple linkage to a hand lever below the tank or having a right hand side stand made and fitted by an qualified engineer.
Where stability when stopped is a problem this can often be overcome by changing the prosthetic (that’s the ‘artificial limb’ in case you were wondering) to one with a ‘stabilised’ knee joint. These are available through the NHS although in some parts of the country you really have to push for them.
There are also automatic stabilisers available from the U.S. but as yet we have very little experience with them so I can’t say how good or bad they are. There is a video on you tube of a set of stabilisers. (Maybe, I can say more when the manufacturers give us a set to test).
It is also sometimes necessary, in the case of amputations, to fit footplates to stop the prosthetic foot from slipping off the foot peg. This is far preferable to the incredibly stupid technique of using a bungee or a cable tie to secure the foot. Only a lunatic would tie himself or herself to a solo bike.

Right leg disabilities:
In the case of a right leg amputation, or other disability effecting the mobility of the right leg. It becomes necessary to move the rear brake pedal; this can be done in several ways.
A relatively simple method of converting a brake pedal to hand control is to mount a twin lever unit, which has two levers in parallel, which operate two individual master cylinders machined into one block. There are two types of twin lever unit available for this adaption (see the kit page for details).
Another method is to use a ‘thumb operated’ hydraulic brake lever, which is operated by pushing the lever forward with the thumb. These come in two types, one has a standard handlebar fitting and the other bolts to the fork leg directly below the left-hand handlebar to suit race style bikes (see the kit page for details).
A further option is to transfer the brake pedal to the left side via a mechanical linkage or hydraulic extension to be operated by the heel of the left foot. This is fairly straightforward and cheap but it is not as popular a method as converting the rear brake to a hand lever.

It is also sometimes necessary, in the case of amputations, to fit footplates to stop the prosthetic foot from slipping off the foot peg. This is far preferable to the incredibly stupid technique of using a bungee or a cable tie to secure the foot. Only a lunatic would tie himself or herself to a solo bike.

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