E-bikes and Trikes Offer Independence in Disability Sector : Easy Cycles and Developing Australian Communities

“What started in 1972 as one man’s dream to cycle across Australia, has over the past 50 years, developed into a couple’s nation-wide passion to encourage people of all physical capabilities to enjoy the freedom and health benefits of riding bikes,” said Mike Clark, co-founder at Developing Australian Communities.

“Easy Cycles founders John and Marie Schelfhout saw a future in electronic push bikes and tricycles, or ebikes, where a person’s physical limitations would have no bearing on their ability to cycle.”

“After developing our own brand of ebike, Ryder Bikes, we then went on to work with other manufacturers including Pfautec and Van Raam.  We are constantly working on upgrading our product range  by collaborating with experts in the disability sector to better suit a wide range of physical needs,” said Marie Schelfhout, co-founder of Easy Cycles.

“And now we want NDIS support coordinators and planners to get on board and consider the emotional and physical benefits cycling brings to participants when building exercise components into new funding plans.”

“Cycling is now a real possibility for children and adults with disabilities, even though it is an activity which is sometimes overlooked in the development of many NDIS plans. Electric trikes and bikes for those with mobility issues fall under the Assistive Technology budget within NDIS support packages and can go a long way in enhancing participants’ health and wellbeing,” Mrs Schelfhout said.

“I turned my attention to developing e-bikes and e-trikes after seeing how easily people with a disability could adapt to them,” said John Schelfhout, co-founder of Easy Cycles.

“Being electric, the bikes and trikes are easy to operate and can be ridden effortlessly just by a twist of the throttle, or light pedalling. The bikes allow those with disabilities to feel more independent and have exercise and therapy whilst enjoying life outdoors,” Mr Schelfhout said.

Andy Howard is just one of many Easy Cycles customers whose life has been changed through their product offerings to those who thought they may never ride again. “I am an incomplete C3 quadriplegic who enjoyed cycling with my two daughters before my accident. When I was recovering in the state rehab ward I made a list of the essential design features on a bike for me to be able to go and cycle with the kids again.”

“I needed a tricycle with a comfortable high seat, a seat backrest, pedals with straps, electric power assist, a locking handbrake, easy to squeeze brakes etc. I thought I would never find a suitable one, until I was put in touch with Easy Cycles who told me about the Easy Rider made by Van Raam in Holland. I went down to the shop in Fremantle here in W.A. where they let me try out the trike. I still didn’t really believe that I would be able to get on and off it, pedal, steer and stop, but within 5 minutes of seeing it I was on it and cycling, turning and stopping.”

“I now have my own Easy Rider at home and not only is it great to be able to go out with the kids, I am also getting stronger and fitter every time I use it. Being able to get around under my own steam (mostly!) and having that feeling of freedom is fantastic!” Mr Howard said.

“John’s venture into e-cycling for people with a disability began in 1972 when he expressed an interest in riding across the country. Sadly, it was put on the backburner for more than 30 years until 2007 when John and I finally made the 4120 kilometre, 31-day trek between Burns Beach in Western Australia to Bondi Beach in Sydney. The following year, we joined another couple to sell e-bikes in Fremantle and then developed our own Ryder brand in 2009,” Mrs Schelfhout said.

“By 2014, our business, then known as Ebikers, had expanded to include being an agency for other brands and in 2016, Marie and I became the sole owners when our partners retired. From here Easy Cycles was formed to provide a range of quality products from multiple brands servicing the disability sector,” Mr Schelfhout said.

“Easy Cycles has also joined forces with Bicycles for Humanity to provide bicycles, so we can restore them and donate them to remote Aboriginal communities and underprivileged countries. Additionally, we host an annual charity ride to raise funds for Bicycles for Humanity’s activities.”

“Our work in the disability sector has given us much joy over the past 15 years in business. The opportunity to help change peoples’ lives and give more freedom to those in the disability sector has been a real privilege. We work closely with Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists so that their clients have the chance to explore the awesome world of electric bikes and trikes. Seeing the joy on peoples’ faces as they move on the electric bikes is priceless,” Mrs Schelfhout said.

Easy Cycles is a Platinum Sponsor at the 2023 Developing Australian Communities Disability Connection Expos in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. They have a display at each expo and encourage Occupational Therapists, NDIS support coordinators and planners and people with an interest in e-biking for people with a disability to stop by for a chat.

Further information about Easy Cycles’ work in the disability sector can be found on the Developing Australian Communities website.

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