Horizon adaptive, all-terrain e-trike speeds over pavement and dirt
By C.C. Weiss
March 30, 2014
For the past few years, Outrider has been earning praise and breaking records with its pedal-assisted electric trikes, but its latest design is gearing up to be its most rewarding endeavor yet. The Horizon is a modular adaptive trike designed to get paraplegics, quadriplegics and others with disabilities wheeling over pavement and dirt. Outrider's goal is to develop a production trike that can be pedaled with the legs or hands or powered entirely with an electric hub motor.
Chris Wenner grew up an avid bicycle enthusiast before breaking his neck at the age of 17. He found that one of the hardest parts of adjusting to life as a quadriplegic was not being able to get back onto the saddle of a bicycle. A smart, determined guy and Ph.D. as an adult, Wenner began tinkering with his own adaptive electric bike, eventually turning to the trike experts at Outrider to help out on the design.
After Wenner contacted the company a little more than a year ago, Outrider quickly grabbed the ball and ran with it. Working closely with Wenner to build upon his initial design, they've created the Horizon, a versatile, modular trike platform designed to meet the needs of many different riders. The trike has the potential to empower those with various types of disabilities to get out and adventure on the street and beyond.
"The driving mission behind the Horizon trike is simple – just because an individual has a physical disability, doesn’t mean they don’t still crave the adventure and freedom of riding a bike," says Outrider co-founder Jesse Lee. "When we combined that mission with our experience building the world’s highest performing electric bikes, the Horizon was born."
Like Outrider's other trikes, the Horizon offers three primary riding options: electric only, pedal-assist electric and pedal only. Unlike on those traditional trikes, those options are fine-tuned around the varying needs of the adaptive community, creating a total of nine possible set-ups.
The Horizon can be pedaled by a set of foot pedals, and Outrider plans to develop a hand pedal system for those that don't have use of their legs but still want to exercise. For those that can't or don't want to pedal at all, the Horizon can also be equipped with a footrest and powered entirely by the 1,500-watt electric rear-hub motor. The drive system is carefully tuned for motoring the rider over rigorous terrain and up hills from a standstill. It delivers speeds up to 25 mph (40 km/h) and a range of up to 30 miles (48 km). Outrider also plans to offer 60- and 100-mile (96- and 161-km) range options in the future.
The average rider will probably be content equipping his or her Horizon with one pedal set-up, but Outrider intends to make the hand cycle, foot cycle and footrest hardware easy to switch out. Such a flexible design should prove attractive for adaptive groups, rehab centers and families that have multiple riders of various ability types using the Horizon at different times.
Braking and throttle functions are controlled by the rider's choice of traditional trike handles, with hand brakes or adaptive tri-pin controls designed for those with limited hand movement. The controls can be mounted on both the left and right side or just one side, making it possible for those with use of only one arm to ride the Horizon.
"When we designed the Horizon, we were striving for a cycle that could be ridden by as many people as possible,” says Outrider's Tom Ausherman.
The large, adjustable seat and self balancing capabilities of a trike make it a natural choice for an adaptive vehicle. Outrider is working on an electrically-actuated seat that rises to the standard wheelchair height of 19 in (48 cm) for easier ingress and egress. The control handles also have quick-release joints to fold out of the way during side entry.
The Horizon drives over asphalt, dirt, rock and more on a set of knobby, off-road tires. The bike's chassis is based on the Steintrikes Wild One, which uses an A-arm front suspension to eat bumps and smooth out the ride. The trike also has rear suspension. Outrider says that the Horizon can handle steep inclines (15 percent grades), and given that its 422 Alpha trike set a record climbing Pikes Peak, we're inclined to take it at its word. Other ride features include a reverse mode, seven-speed SRAM drivetrain and front-mounted computer display.
Wenner has continued to play an integral role in the Horizon's development and testing. Last month, he completed a 410-mile (660-km), four-day ride between Tucson and San Diego. He's preparing to undertake a 10,000-mile (16,093-km) "Epic Trip" across the the 48 states of the continental United States.
"The feeling of riding this is exactly like I recall riding my mountain bike in high school before my injury," Wenner says. "It was awesome then, it's awesome now."
Outrider has built two prototypes and has turned to Kickstarter for help fund the remaining development. It still needs to finish work on the chassis, hand cycle system, electrically raised seat and adaptive tri-pin controls. It is halfway to its US$100,000 goal, with about a week and a half to go.
The base Kickstarter price for a Horizon trike is $7,950. That pledge level has sold out, but the trike is still available for a pledge of $8,100. The company explains that the pricing reflects the high costs of the custom-designed, all-terrain chassis, 1,100-Wh lithium battery pack and custom drive system. Those that don't want to spend the money on a full trike but want to support the project can pledge at lesser levels, starting at $5.
Outrider hopes to finish development over the next few months, start production in September and begin shipping fully assembled Horizons in December. It has been speaking with various adaptive groups for feedback on the design and plans to continue doing so throughout its development stage.
You can see how the tri-pin controls work in the short video clip below.