Back to the Future with Zara’s Trike

Last year, after much soul searching, we made the decision to end our Bader Braves Young Aviators Days programme following 12 hugely successful years and have, since then, been concentrating on our Bader Grants Scheme.

I’m shortly going to be publishing a recap of what the Grant Scheme achieved in 2023 but, before that I thought it would be nice to go Back to the Future with Zara’s Trike and feature one of our early and hugely satisfying grant involvements of the year!

In early March, David Bickers was introduced by Kiera Roche, founder of LimbPower, to Anna Eerdmans. Anna was one of a team of 2 Product Design students at Ravensbourne University who had been asked to design a suitable bike seat for hind and right leg amputee, Zara, so that she could resume cycling around Brighton following her amputation. It was hoped that DBF could offer support to the project through the Bader Grants Scheme. We were delighted to get involved with what promised to be a fascinating and challenging project with Anna and Chi, a talented pair of designers, determined that they wouldn’t give up until Zara was back in the saddle, pedalling around her home town safely and comfortably.

Finding the right seat for Zara, an illustrator, art teacher and mother of three, who had previously relied on her bike for transport, was a long and painstaking process, and the university project was done in conjunction with Fixperts, a free learning programme for schools and universities which connects students with their communities. (You can find out more about Fixperts via a link at the bottom of this post.) The project involved numerous discussions, ideas, experiments and prototypes and the willing support of professionals. It thoroughly tested the imagination of all involved and is a wonderful story about teamwork.

How do we bend a 25mm metal pole in a sweep curve? Any pipebender bends in an elbow shape and is often 19 or 22mm for plumbing purposes.

Because Zara has lost so much muscle and tissue as a result of her amputation, sitting on anything hard caused her huge discomfort. An early prototype was created from the idea of a seat where the right side could be inflated to a pressure that would feel comfortable for Zara. As you’ll see from the videos, this proved to be unsuccessful as Zara could still feel pressure from the front of the saddle. Thoughts then turned to an innovative hammock style seat tailored to fit and support Zara without pressure around her amputation. Prototype  seats were initially fitted to static bikes for Zara to try out before testing on a trike, the only bike giving sufficient stability to make it safe for Zara to ride, could begin.

Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
Prototype 3 – Pump saddle


Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
Prototype 4 – Hammock saddle

How do we know the exact connection to a trike, and more importantly can check the interaction of the seat with the trike if we don’t have a trike?

That was where the DBF came in…

Back to the Future with Zara’s Trike

Check out the videos below to see how this inspiring challenge unfolded. You will also find links at the bottom of this page.

* To see the heartwarming video of Zara’s Trike journey, please click on the link *


Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
Zara meets her Trike
Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
The result!

DBF was so proud and delighted to have been able to play a part in this wonderful story. To have been a small part of such an inspired team that worked so determinedly  to create a solution that would enable Zara to regain the freedom to travel around her home town in safety and comfort, is what the Bader Grant Scheme is all about.

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