A part-time inventor who has designed a trike for special needs children has received the backing of a second global business to help bring his work to market.
Les McMahon is working with Manchester-based Insync Bikes to perfect the trike he engineered for his young neighbour, and his social media posts about the trike’s progress have caught the eye of metal framing manufacturer Unistrut, which has pledged to lend its expertise.
Insync has also released the first CGI images of the trike, which will be available at about a tenth of the price of current models on the market to enable more families with disabled children to enjoy the benefits of cycling.
McMahon, from Ellenbrook, Worsley, made the original trike in his garden shed to enable 13-year-old neighbour Lewis Flint to get out on the roads with his parents, Dawn and Andy.
In June 2019, it was reported that he teamed up with designers at Insync Bikes in Manchester, owned by India’s Hero Cycles. Since then, he has been visiting Hero’s Global Design Centre every few weeks, before the pandemic, to iron out any challenges with Insync’s team of designers.
Considerations have included improving the stability of the trike, weight-saving measures and flat-packing and shipping. McMahon has tweeted about the progress of his invention regularly and, when he posted a tweet asking for donations of Unistrut off-cuts, the business responded to say it would like to help with the design aspects and offer advice on flat-packing.
The trike involves a ‘sidecar’ fitted to a bike, with a ramp to roll on the wheelchair. Insync’s designers have recreated it in a computer programme to allow them to make and test alterations before it is rolled out to others. Prior to his link-up with Insync, McMahon teamed up with the University of Bolton, which incorporated the trike into its engineering degree course for two years.
Once plans are finalised, it will be made available in a flat-pack kit or as a downloadable design under Hero’s Insync family bike brand. The trike will cost in the region of £500 compared with alternatives that start at around £5,000. McMahon said he has kept Flint and his family up to date with developments.
“The chances of getting one global company on board with this were slim, but to get two is unbelievable,” he said. “We’re trying to solve the problems now so that we can produce something that is like a Meccano for grown-ups, making it easy for anyone to build so that we can benefit as many people as possible.”
Martin Beard, marketing manager for Unistrut, based in West Bromwich, added: “It is easy to see that Les is doing a great thing and, although the design is his creation, we are trying to support with alternative options and assist him with ideas for the possibilities of flat packing the frame.”
Abhishek Pratap Singh, head of design at Insync, said Les deserved all the support he needed and was pleased to welcome Unistrut on board. “Insync is very proud and happy about continued association with Les,” he said. “He has been working very hard with our studio designers to improve the design for the lightweight structure, mass manufacturing and cost.
“We are also very happy to welcome Unistrut in this project as it is truly a community-driven project and needs more partners who add value. Unistrut undoubtedly brings in a lot of expertise and knowledge about structures. The project is a true reflection of Insync’s brand values which, at their core, are about making cycling accessible to every member of the family.”