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Old 06-22-22, 10:39 AM
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Handcycle traction improvement

Greetings all. A little background on me to help explain my question. I'm paralyzed from the waist down for 31 years now. Using a wheelchair for that long has started taking its toll on my body, so I'm taking steps (no pun intended) to get in better shape and hopefully extend my time on this awesome planet. I've started lifting weights again after a 20 year layoff from it. I decided I needed to do something for cardio, too, and started looking into handcycles. After a lot of research, I found a used one and bought it. I've come to love it in the short time I've had it. I should have done this years ago! It's admittedly oriented toward cruising, not high performance. It's an Action brand, Top End model. As near as I can tell, the Top End brand started out as a model made by Action. For reference, this one is nearly identical to the current Top End Excelerator.

My only issue is that it spins out going up hills, and I just can't go up very steep hills because of this. I'd rather be limited on hills by my arms than by the front tire and to be able to climb steeper hills for more of a workout, but this limitation seems to be the nature of the design. It's driven by a single front wheel, and most of my 225 pound weight is on the pair of rear wheels. I've moved the seat forward as much as possible to help with this, but as I'm 6'4", I still sit pretty far back. It has a brand-new set of Kenda Kwest tires put on it by the previous owner. Tires are 26"x1.5"/40-559. 26"x2.0"s would fit with plenty of clearance. I'm considering going to one that size on the front for the slight width (and hopefully traction) increase. The Kenda Kwests are fairly slick, which should be better on the dry road, but don't seem very grippy. It also has a very rounded profile, so only a small, rounded patch actually contacts the road. I've aired it down to 40 PSI which seems to help a little. I don't anticipate any speeds above about 20 mph (downhill!), and average speeds closer to 7-8 mph, so high-speed turning or braking traction isn't a huge concern.

So my questions are around what to do to increase my uphill pulling traction on this single driven front wheel. Am I thinking correctly to go to a wider front tire and to run a lower pressure? Do you have any specific tire brand/model recommendations to maximize on-road driven traction? Are there any tire brands/models that have a flatter profile that would increase the contact patch? And, of course, I'm open to any other suggestions you more-experienced folks have for improving my uphill traction. I'm not looking to turn this cruiser into a high-performance handcycle, would just like to be able to tackle slightly steeper hills than I can currently. Thank you in advance for any recommendations you can provide.
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