Earlier this year, we heard about a proposed arm- and leg-powered bicycle known as the 4StrikeBike. At the time, we knew that if it were to reach production, it would be facing some competition from the existing Raxibo Hand-Tret-Velo. Now, it turns out that another arm-and-legger has also recently hit the market – it’s time to meet the Varibike.
As with the other two bikes, the Varibike features both a traditional leg-powered drivetrain, and a handlebar stem-mounted set of cranks that the rider turns with their arms. That arm power is transmitted from those cranks down to the main drivetrain via a rubber-sheathed chain drive. This setup allows the rider to cruise along using leg power only, arm power only, or a combination of both.
According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs. Of course, using all four limbs would also provide a more complete work-out.
Along with the arm cranks, the Varibike also has a set of quite narrow flat handlebars. Riders can switch to them in situations where they want a little more stability, or just feel like changing to a more upright position. Additionally, the shifter and brake levers are located on them.
Steering looks like it could be a little ... unusual, but is reportedly achieved simply by leaning one's body into the turns.
The base FR2 model of the Varibike features a 7005/7020 aluminum frame, and components such as a Shimano XT rear derailleur (there’s no front derailleur), a Ritchey Pro V2 seatpost, and Schwalbe BigApple 28 x 2.00 tires. It’s priced at €3,999 (US$5,350).
The newer €4,499 ($6,019) FR3 model adds separate freewheels to each arm crank. This allows them to be used not only in the traditional opposing configuration, but also in “Synchron Style,” in which they stay side-by-side to produce a sort of rowing motion. Additionally, riders can just leave them both pointing forward, to serve as a set of aero bars.
The company informs us that both models tip the scales at 15 kg (33 lb). They can be seen in use, in the video below.