James W. Kamman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Western Michigan University
Home Up Control Demonstrator Motion Control Sled Inverted Pendulum Hand Cycle Hydraulic Bike Model

Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
Senior Design Project

Hand Powered Cycle with Remote-Controlled Power and Braking Assistance1,2

A commercially available hand-powered cycle was modified to include remote controlled braking and supplemental propulsion.
 The electric motor and control electronics from a common two-wheeled electric scooter were adapted to drive a standard spoked bicycle wheel using a combination belt/chain drive system.  A freewheeling mechanism was incorporated to allow the hand cycle to move forward under human power without producing additional resistance required to turn the motor drive.  A high-powered linear actuator was employed to engage an existing caliper brake via a secondary cable.  Both systems are activated with a standard digital proportional radio control unit designed to give the caregiver remote control of braking and propulsion assistance.

This project covers two hand cycle enhancements: supplemental, remotely-controlled braking and propulsion.  While active input is still required by the rider, he or she may not be aware of a hazard that the caregiver is able to anticipate.  The ability to stop or slow the cycle from a distance is useful.  Similarly, though the rider may be more than willing to do so, he or she may not be able to negotiate even small inclines.  A small assistance motor that is able to propel the cycle at low speeds will be valuable to the caregiver without adding excessive battery weight.

1 John Bolhuis, Andrew Hyder, “Design Enhancements for a Hand Powered Cycle,” Project No. ME-0804-09, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008.

2 Project was completed for the WMU Center for Disability Services


Enhanced Hand Powered Cycle



Remote Control Transmitter and Control Box




Drive Plate Assembly and Hub Adaptor

P4060117   chainwheel-assy


Brake Actuator Assembly