CYCLING WITH YOUR OWN MUSCLES, DESPITE A CONDITION
Our MISSIon

It is our mission to help anyone with a disability stay fit and healthy. We want to use technical innovation to enable individuals with physical impairments to regain their health, fitness and independence. We will ensure that the BerkelBike is always a great solution for individuals who have difficulty moving parts of their bodies. Using great product design and the latest in FES research we will train the whole of an individual in order to keep them in the best shape and condition possible.

Our VISION

Research shows that being wheelchair bound causes a rapid decline in overall health and shortens life expectancy. This is due to important muscles groups in the body being inactive, which causes the body to become weak. It can be very difficult for people in this situation to regain their health and fitness, in a lot of cases it isn’t even possible to train in their own homes. BerkelBike BV would like to change this.

You can cycle with the strength of your body, using arms and legs

The BerkelBike can be powered by either arms or legs and even both at the same time. Even if you are paralyzed. This means that the rider will be getting a much greater workout than only using one set of limbs. This is the only outdoor cycling system capable of this.

Electrical stimulation allows paralysed legs to actively cycle

BerkelBike makes it possible for impaired individuals to ride a bicycle again using power from their own muscles. The electrical stimulation will utilize paralyzed leg muscles so the whole body is involved with the cycling, so no engines are required anymore.

Maintain your body health and overcome physical restrictions

It can be difficult for wheelchair users to keep their bodies fit and healthy. Often people with spinal cord injuries or neurological disorders cannot move certain limbs or muscle groups. The BerkelBike can train these muscles again and help to keep the riders fit through cycling.

About BERKELBIKE

The users of our bikes are people with limited or no function in their legs. In addition, we have plenty of customers who simply have problems keeping their balance or even have no impairment at all. Our products have become an integral part of their daily life. Many of them thought that they could never again cycle with their legs.

The BerkelBike is a combination of handcycle and recumbent bike driven by the power of both arms and legs. If you have limited or no use of your legs, this propulsion system will enable you to support the movement of your legs with the strength of your arms and shoulders. We also offer a more conventional tricycle, the EasyLegs. Like the BerkelBike, it is characterized by its low weight, great stability, and the fact that it can be customized in length, width, seating height, and angle.

Our bikes are available as a complete tricycle that can be taken apart for ease of transportation or as a one-wheeled device that can be connected to your own wheelchair. Also, if you suffer from paralysis, they can be equipped with our Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) system, enabling you to include your paralyzed legs in the movement.

Rik Berkelmans About BerkelBike

” When I was a student at the University of Nijmegen, I once read an article over people with spinal cord injury receiving Functional Electrical Stimulation. This electrical muscle stimulation was used to restore muscle and organ function, as well as prevent indirect medical complications associated with paralysis. The article described a paralyzed person sitting on a stationary bike equipped with a stimulation device that evoked muscle contractions in legs and buttocks. In doing so, the electrical impulses were coordinated in such way that a cycling motion was generated.

By reading the article, it also became clear that patients had to come to a special laboratory on the university campus to get such treatment. I immediately thought to myself that this technique should be made accessible for people in their homes. During the following years, I carried this idea with me as I continued studying and later working at the university.

Because of my studies in toxicology and exercise physiology I have always been aware of the consequences of spinal cord injury. Paralysis is not only devastating in itself but also accompanied by issues like severe muscle and bone wastage and decreased blood circulation, which can result in tissue problems. Furthermore, if you cannot move your body enough, there will be a greater risk of heart and vascular disease.

FES offers a solution to such problems, especially when combined with cardiovascular exercise. The problem, however, was that appropriate stimulation devices were rarely seen in rehabilitation centers let alone in the homes of those who needed them. My idea was to combine the FES technology with a compact stationary bike or a tricycle to enable the user to train at home or even outside on the road.

When my relationship ended in 2000, and I was living alone again, I suddenly had the time to further develop my idea. I recognized that there had already been attempts to construct a bike with FES technology in six different countries. However, the restricted distance that could be covered by the power of functionally stimulated muscles alone made all earlier attempts rather worthless. To support the movement of the stimulated muscles and get more out of the training, I decided to combine FES technology with a tricycle propelled by leg as well as arm power.

That was the birth of the BerkelBike, a combination of handcycle and recumbent bike driven by both foot pedals and arm crank. In that way, weak legs could be supported in performing the pedaling motion and a full body workout was created.”

THE REALIZATION PROCESS

“I wrote up my ideas in 2000 and sent the sketches to three institutions to get a subsidy. Back then, I was still working at the University of Nijmegen and finding the means to finance further development of my idea had top priority. Then, a few months later, I won the “Millenniumprijs”, a Dutch advancement award, with the first technical drawings. The first prototype could be built.

In 2002, the prototype was awarded the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award. It was then when I decided to quit my job to work on the project full time and not much later I founded the company BerkelBike BV. Further funding followed, and further prototypes were built. On top of this, it was now possible to conduct a first clinical trial to investigate the effects of the BerkelBike. Ten people with a thoracic spinal cord injury participated in the study that was carried out in cooperation with the Sint Maartenskliniek rehabilitation center and the medical faculty of the Radboud University Nijmegen. During a period of 16 weeks, it was measured how the training with the BerkelBike affected their body condition.

The results were promising! Not only was there an increase in muscle mass and blood circulation in the legs of the participants, there were also clear signs of improved oxygen uptake and metabolic activity when compared to training with a standard handbike.

Finally in 2005, the time had come to present the first sellable version of the BerkelBike at a press conference in the Sint Maartenskliniek. Soon after the market introduction, the BerkelBike was awarded the Kittz Innovation Price and named best medical device of the last two years.”

BERKELBIKE – THE COMPANY TODAY

What started as an idea to help people with spinal cord injury turned out to be useful for various medical conditions. By now, hundreds of people in over 20 countries suffering from more than 20 different diseases are using the BerkelBike.
Also people of whom you wouldn’t expect that they could benefit from the BerkelBike, have come to appreciate the propulsion system and the overall flexibility of the product. For example, who could have imagined that today, a legless Afghanistan veteran would describe the BerkelBike as an integral part of his daily life.

The flexibility of our products has become an essential part of our identity as a company. We strive to make it possible for everyone to use our bikes, no matter the disability. Therefore, we offer a great wealth of accessories to adjust the bike to your special needs, and we have undertaken plenty of individual adaptations in cases where our accessories weren’t enough. From anti-decubitus cushioning and dog baskets to controlling the bike without the use of your hands, just give us a call and we will do everything in our power to find a solution to your situation.

The development of the BerkelBike and the BerkelBike FES system was made possible in cooperation with Flevobike, Nijland Revalidatie Techniek, Syntens, JWA Systems and Brainquiry R&D. Special thanks go to Peter Claus and Ben van den Dolder.

PATENT: UNITED STATES PATENT NUMBER: US 7,293,623 B2

Meet the BerkelBike team

Rik Berkelmans

CEO / Inventor of the BerkelBike

Rik studied Sport Science (exercise physiology) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and Chemistry (toxicology) at the Radboud University Nijmegen. He resigned his PHD at the university to research FES and to develop an exercise possibility for spinal cord injured and founded BerkelBike BV.

Bjorn Jurcka

Operational Manager

Bjorn studied Industrial Engineering & Management: specialization Logistics at the University of Twente. He also has 6 years experience in transporting people, mainly with a disability. After graduation he did community service during traveling in the USA, Europe, Japan and Thailand.

Calvin Visee

Online Marketeer

Calvin studied Communication: specialization Digital Media at Rotterdam University. He specialized in online marketing, digital media and content production. Besides his study he has his own company, where he helps companies to create brand experiences for customers.

Dianne Berkelmans

Customer Support

Dianne Berkelmans is the sister of Rik. She has finished an automation study and an international logistic study. At BerkelBike she is responsible for logistics, automation, tradeshows and the newsletter of BerkelBike. She is working for BerkelBike, since the start of the company.