On November 8, 2011 we received a phone call from a customer looking to buy parts of our Horizon Sport Touring multi-adjustable handlebars for the Kawasaki C14 so he could fabricate a set of handlebars for his walker. I didn’t answer the phone, but once I heard the question I had to talk to this gentleman. Turns out, he was an avid motorcyclist and even a previous Helibars customer. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and it eventually progressed to the point he could not ride a motorcycle anymore. Despite this fact he was not going to give up and started to concentrate on his other passion, photography. Nature is the primary focus of his photography and, being confined to a walker, getting the best shots was difficult at best. So, instead of giving in to the limitations of his walker he decided to make the walker fit his needs. After making many modifications he found the handlebars just were not as comfortable as he would like.
I am looking for a what I call a natural angle of my wrists. So looking from the top the wrists would angle out from the centre line and with a slight drop instead of the straight back it has now.
Looking for alternatives he found the market for walker handlebars to be non-existant, so he turned to the motorcycle market. From his days as a motorcycle rider he remembered Helibars as the most comfortable handlebars in the world. Surly Helibars would have something that met his need. That’s when he saw our Horizon multi-adjustable handlebars for the C14 on the front page of the website and decided to call.
After hearing the whole story I decided the best thing to do was not to sell him a selection of parts, but make a complete set of custom handlebars designed for his walker. The design borrowed elements from our Horizon ST multi-adjustable handlebars for the Honda ST1100 and also included a new tool-less adjustment. The Horizon ST multi-adjustable handlebars were a great basis for this project. The design was already set up for 7/8 handlebars and had roughly the right range of motion. The most import aspect of this design is safety. The Horizon design incorporates hard stops to limit rotation if a pinch bolt loosens or falls out. In such an event the pivots can not come apart and will only rotate as far as the stops allow. The safety of the design makes it the perfect choice for this application.
Using SolidEdge 3D CAD software I created the model you see below. Pictures of the design were sent to the customer for appoval.
He loved the new design, so I started on building the real thing. Final prototypes were machined from billet aluminum, just like the current Horizon motorcycle handlebars.
We were able to ship the new multi-adjustable walker handlebars just before Christmas and got his response shortly after install:
I received the bars today. I don’t want to blow too much smoke up your kilt but what a difference they make. I have them on and they really make it easier on the hands and wrists, just as I had hoped.
Success! We just created the most comfortable walker in the world!