Hand-cycling, mechanical and physiological effects

Which influence have different riding positions in competitive para hand-cycling? A new study will provide athletes and coaches among others with increased knowledge of the pros and cons with various positions used in competition in parasport and, not least whether they entail relatively similar conditions for the athletes or not.


Para hand-cycle is a competition tool used within the national and international parasport association. Depending on the physical impairment of the athletes, this often implies limitations in the choice of riding positions on the hand-cycle. Therefore, a number of different sitting positions exist among the competitors, not always from an aerodynamic and physiologically perspective, but based on the physical conditions of the athlete.

Hand-cycling is a unique sport, where riding positions differ significantly from the positions adopted by traditional leg-cyclists. However, hand-cyclists currently rely on advice derived from studies of leg-cycling aerodynamics and physiology, since there is no information currently available for hand-cycling. In most para-sports, competitors are to be classified on the basis of similar physical impairment so that they can compete on the same conditions as possible.

The experiments will be carried out by hand-cycling on the treadmill in the wind tunnel at Sports Tech Research Centre. The treadmill that can be tilted, uphill and downhill, to simulate reality-like course profiles and an advanced climate function allows for studying how outside forces affect the athletes in a realistic standardized test environment.

Participants for the experiments include male and female athletes, both able-bodied and impaired.  All participants will perform different sitting positions to see which influence the cycling positions have on the performance, including physiological tests and measurements like VO2, heart rate and lactate when hand-cycling uphill and downhill.

The project is part of Mid Sweden University's joint effort in parasport and combines successful research in both technology and physiology through the collaboration between the research centers Sports Tech Research Centre and the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre.


The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of different cycling positions specific to competitive para hand-cyclists on aerodynamic resistance, power output, gross efficiency, work economy, heart rate and lactate.

The result is expected to contribute to the development of para hand-cycling and form the basis for development of training, racing and rules within the sport.


Mid Sweden University:

And Clemens Frühwirth, master student, University of Applied Sciences Vienna.

Project period



400 000 SEK


Östersund municipality


Sports Tech Research Centre and The Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre at Mid Sweden University.