You may remember NotBroken’s Thomas Bannister whose one handed mountain biking blew us away last year.
Well now meet Tom Wheeler. Instead of using an arm sling like Bannister though, he’s gone one better and built an arm brace to help him continue racing.
Wheeler’s right arm was paralysed after a crash at a downhill race in 2011 however he was determined that the injury would not keep him off the bike. He found using an arm sling and riding one-handed, like Bannister, left him “unbalanced and overcompensating with his unaffected arm” so he looked for another solution.
Through his job at Mojo, Tom was able to design a sprung carbon fibre arm brace. He used a carbon shoulder and wrist support alongside titanium bolts and a custom Fox damper that would secure his right arm to the handlebars and keep him riding. However, the cost of this rudimentary design meant it was not practical to be rolled out to the market.
Tom has now partnered with Poppy Farrugia, a master’s student in product design, and the PDR research centre, to create a more affordable and versatile design that could potentially be sold on the market to aid others with upper limb paralysis. The video above tells their story.
The brace was 3-D printed and has now gone through a number of prototype stages to become even more developed than the early version in the video. Farrugia said: “I have a 3-D printer and Tom has a 3-D printer so I can send him designs and he can test them the really quickly.”
Wheeler is back racing and competed at the Welsh Gravity Enduro last summer.
For more information and videos visit Poppy’s website here.