New above elbow amputee

Hi. I’ve just left hospital after 6 weeks after an above elbow amputation. Before then i rode regularly, mountain biker. Fitness level was excellent with 5000km and 75000m climb in first 10 months of 2020. After a long stint in hospital and a long way off getting back on a mountain bike proper i need to keep my interest and regain/maintain fitness.
I’m looking for practical advice on set up, static bike and necessary adaptions for control and balance.
I know this post a bit of a stab in the dark, but I’m hopeful that a fellow arm amputee may see it and share tips and advice

@Dave_Bates , great job getting back into it after such a change in physical nature.

Well worth the stab in the dark posting on the forum. I’m not an amputee but I had a friend years ago that was a below elbow amputee. He was a road biker, no mountain. In around 2004 this was the setup he had on his road bike:

  • Left arm amputee below the elbow
  • His prosthesis was a gripping hand that primarily operated as an opposable thumb to the 4 fingers. I don’t recall the fingers moving independently
  • He would clamp his prosthetic hand onto the left brake hood. The brake hood was there just for something to grab, it did not have any braking or shifting capability
  • His right Shimano STI brake hood / shifter came from a tandem bike with dual brake cable connections. The shifting controlled the rear derailleur. The brake lever had 2 cables it would pull. In a normal tandem configuration of the time one cable would be for the drum brake, the other for a secondary rim brake. He instead had it rigged for one cable pulling the rear brake, the other pulled the front brake slightly delayed from the rear.
  • His front derailleur shifter was a bar end shifter on the right side.

With this setup he had full control of a road bike. People who did not know him would never notice anything different until they saw the bar end shifter on the right side.

I don’t know if there are equivalent modern components or not, but talk with your local bike shop. If they are creative, they may be able to do some impressive things. Are there any adaptive cycling shops in your area? A shop that sells hand cycles or a custom manufacturer may be easier for you to find and they could point you to a shop that is experienced in upper arm amputee setups.

My friend’s situation was a little easier than yours given he was below the elbow, above elbow may be tough on a mountain bike, but by all means worth the effort if you are wanting to get a workable setup.

I sense you are not in the USA based on the text in your post. If reference to a USA handcycle custom builder is a helpful starting point, I could get you that as I have a friend who recently purchased a new custom hand cycle.

Best wishes on your return to cycling. Ride On !!!

I really appreciate your reply, I’ve never ridden a road bike but i am think getting a basic road bike to use statically, so some of your friends setup may be useful. I think things have moved on a lot from 2004 so i am hopeful that my recent misfortune is not the end of my off road riding. You’re right, i am not in the USA. I am UK and have begun discussions with some great organisations that will help me, but i am more than happy to get advice from any direction, so thank you for reply to my post.

Maybe this YouTube channel might have some useful leads:

On 19. January he published a video on riding on the Zwift off-road Repack Ridge trail:

His web page is here:

@Dave_Bates if the road bike setup is intended to be static on the trainer, you have no need for dealing with brakes, that simplifies so much. You can make a sweet Zwift setup that does not need a lot of adaptation. Rock on with that setup, a great start.

No doubt things have progressed massively since 2004 and the equipment you have to choose from should be far superior. There’s also so much more awareness for adaptive equipment (at least here on the other side of the pond). If you have some great organizations to engage with, no doubt you will succeed in the quest to get back on the mountain bike.

Go nail it man. Let us know how it’s progressing. I’m definately rooting for you.

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@Dave_Bates , I definitely recommend you contact . They support all types of challenged athletes and have many AEA who cycle and they even have a cycling club here on zwift. They have lots of incredible resources to help you.

Look forward to seeing you in Watopia ,

Ride On!

Sara Lance

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Thank you, for the link and the encouragement. Feels a bit of a mountain to climb at the moment, good job i like a challenging hike.

Brilliant, hugely encouraging! Thanks a lot.

I’ll let you know how i get on.

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