An exciting purchase (Hapert, The Netherlands)

It’s our final day in Holland before we travel to Poland and I’m filled with nervous excitement. I’ve got an appointment with Roll-On Mobility in Hapert, a village near Hilvarenbeek where we’ve been staying. I’m off to see about the purchase of a wheelchair bicycle to take home so that I can share the joy of cycling with people who have disabilities.

My uncle and aunt come along to help me with my purchase decision, translate any particularly technical stuff that might come up (I speak Dutch and the person at the shop speaks English but sometimes technical language can be challenging to translate between languages) and to advise me on technical matters relating to ebikes (my uncle is a bit of a bike expert). They pick us up and drive us to the shop where I nervously explore the options available.

I needn’t have been nervous. Roll-On Mobility is an amazing shop with a huge array of mobility options for people with disabilities, including countless styles of bicycle ranging from recumbents through to duo bikes that two people ride side by side. They also have available for test riding the only three models of wheelchair bike currently available on the commercial market where the rider sits in front of the person pedaling: the Duet, the Velo-plus (a model where you put the actual wheelchair on the bike) and the O-Pair. There are other specialised bikes used in cycle racing and triathlon but these appear to be modified versions of a form of tandem.

I am thoroughly impressed by the way Roll-On Mobility spend about two hours taking me around their warehouse and manufacturing workshop. I test ride the Duet and O-Pair (I’m not interested in the Velo-plus model due to the philosophy of my service being to help people not feel disabled while riding and the Velo-plus requires them to remain in their wheelchair). I learn about the different options for ebike and non-ebike set up, and the various ebike systems. It’s technical and interesting. The shop has even done their research and identified that no matter which system I opt for it will be difficult to find someone to repair it in Australia if something goes wrong and to advise me on documents I might need for importation and transport as check baggage on my flight.

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I am excited to announce that I bought a Duet bike to bring home with me so that I can share the joys of cycling with people who have a disability. The bike is comfortable to ride and, as I type this a fortnight later, is being built specifically for my needs. I went with an electric system manufactured in Germany that meets the Australian import standards and should be more reliable than the cheaper Chinese options. I doubt I’ll be able to sleep on the night of 19 January because I hope to be able to pick it up on 20 January.

I’ll disclose more about my venture once I get closer to launch.

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