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Hi everybody,
so I have a friend I graduated high school with who was a marine and was wounded in Iraq. As a result he lost portions of his fingers on his left hand, or at least, these are the only injuries that he sustained that he won't be recovering from. I had suggested he get a motorcycle rather rudely I'm thinking, because I didn't consider that he might struggle. He explained that he wanted to get one but his left hand couldn't operate the clutch. I didn't really think that was fair so I tried to come up with some ideas that could maybe help him out.
My idea was to basically take the clutch handle and turn it so that the handle is toward the inside of the handlebar such that he could use his palm to push the clutch in.
He had asked me if there was such a thing as a 'twist clutch.' I can only assume that it would operate the same as the throttle operates.

both of these ideas probably wouldn't work with clutches operated by a master cylinder, but I wanted to ask the brain trust here to see if anybody had a good idea that might work or can point my friend toward a company or specific product that may help him.

would it be possible to install a different kind of clutch so that there would be no need for a clutch handle, making it more like a fourwheeler? He doesn't own a bike yet so this is a fairly general request, not model specific.
anyway, post your ideas, my friend would greatly appreciate it.
thanks
 

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A right foot clutch would be easy.
FOG
 

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turning the clutch hande around wouldnt be a good idea. he would have a very hard time having any sort of control and would require a considerable ammount of pressure to work it.

im with fog, either make a new foot control lever or turn the rear brake armature into one for a clutch.

how much of a handicap are we talking here? he will need to be able to grip the handlebars on that side fairly well and will need to be able to apply some decent force. id hate to see him go down because he cant adequately control the bike due to a lack of grip.
 

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Get a twist clutch on the left handle. Not sure if 1/4 or 1/8 turn would do. Getting a throttle handle modified shouldn't be too much of a hassle, both are operated by a cable ;)

I've heard once of an american motorcycle company building choppers that use the same kind of transmissions that the ones on snowmobiles. They use pulleys. I don't recall their name but I'll check. ;)
 

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If there is a completely real, ready to go need like this, it could be done. An assisted system not unlike how power steering works or pneumatic position control could be adapted. It would require a meeting to understand the situation in its entirety and then choose the best approach, making whatever it takes, keeping to as similar a standard operating style as possible. I assume from the limited description that your friend has some motion and grip ability, just not the reach or possibly the strength to generate enough force to operate a standard clutch.

The idea you mentioned may work at the most elementary level but the realities of acceleration and braking forces acting on the rider may make it very clumsy and potentially dangerous.

For a custom job like this there are many component pieces available and the balance can be made. Materials should not be too expensive but there would be a fair amount of design time and machining and fabrication time. Being mostly labor, if that could be donated, it could be relatively inexpensive to execute such a rig but the design and execution has to be right, not cobbled together behind the barn. I'm in Pittsburgh and would be happy to donate what I could to the effort if it came together. Maybe some funds would be available for this through local organizations or bike runs. They seem to love this type of stuff.

BTW, my business from 1978 until the first quarter of this year was custom automation design and manufacturing. Control like I envision this need is very doable.
 
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I haven't got a suggestion, but on killboy.com right now, there is a guy with a hook for an hand and no arm, operating a chopper through Deals Gap. If that man can have a bike through that road, your friend can certainly find an option to get him riding. Good luck :)
 

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FOG said:
A right foot clutch would be easy.
FOG
This is what my uncle has on his Yamaha Blaster. He suffered from a stroke and so he can't use his left hand. He positioned the clutch on the right foot pedal, then integrated the rear brake into the front brake lever. Not sure how well integrating the brakes would work on a street bike, though, since you would need to have more front brake being used than rear.
 

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blent87 said:
This is what my uncle has on his Yamaha Blaster. He suffered from a stroke and so he can't use his left hand. He positioned the clutch on the right foot pedal, then integrated the rear brake into the front brake lever. Not sure how well integrating the brakes would work on a street bike, though, since you would need to have more front brake being used than rear.
It might be a bit more sophisticated, but BMW has integrated front and rear brakes. The lever actuates both brakes, the foot pedal only actuates the rear brake. It's also got ABS, though, so there's bound to be more involved that just tying them together.
 

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Not sure how well integrating the brakes would work on a street bike, though, since you would need to have more front brake being used than rear.
brake bias adjuster. you could set the bias to like 80% front, and voila!

although if you have a rear drum, i dunno how you'd do it. im sure something could be devised...

i think a twist clutch is also a good idea.
 

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Could you also have the front brake lever tighter and the rear looser, this way when you pull the front brake a little it's only engaging the front, and when you pull it quite a bit, it's really engaging the front but only the back a little bit. This seems like it would be the easiest (if it would work, that is).
 

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I don't think a twist clutch would work because it takes too much force to move the clutch. Have you tried moving it with your bare hand? It needs a large lever like a clutch handle. The right foot clutch seems like the way to go. If you put a little leg work into it, I'm sure you could find plenty of people willing to donate their expertise into making this work.
 

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A guy I ride with is in a similar position. His left arm is paralyzed from the shoulder down from a prior wreck, so he modified his R1 with both levers on the right clipon. You should tell your buddy to go check out www.satxriders.com. The guy's name is Rick (1hander on the site). He's great guy and runs the site. I'm sure he'd be happy to talk to you or your friend about it. There is even a forum for riders with disabilities. He has a quick write up of his setup here http://satxriders.com/index.php?topic=424.0 (you may have to register). My user name is the same there too, drop in an say hi. ;D
 
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I have read about ninja 250s with centrifugal clutches, custom built from off-the-shelf parts. Turns the littlest ninja into a sport-scooter. Roll off the throttle to shift up or down.
 

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i dont know how bad his hand is or whatnot, but maybe a hydraulic clutch would be the answer? they are super easy to pull in. i saw you said he was minus fingers, if he still has the first 2, he could probably still pull it in.
 
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