Van Raam produces uniquely special needs bicycles and specializes in tricycles, transport bikes, scooterbikes, wheelchair bikes, tandem bikes, double rider bikes, and low step trough bikes (also known as comfortbikes). Each model is also available as an electric bike (Pedelec).
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I have been happy with my Easy Sport from Van Raam for 6 years now. Before that, I always cycled on a conventional two-wheel bike with coaster brake. Unfortunately, that changed eight years ago. I got more and more pain in my joints and cycling was more and more difficult. The moment of realisation came when I fell with my bike. This happened right in front of a car. The driver wasn’t happy with this and it became clear to me that cycling was no longer possible in this way.
In that time, I was diagnosed with CP (Cerebral palsy), a non-congenital brain disease that occurs before the first year of life. This condition is accompanied by spasm, which I can keep under control. This is a well known symptom for people with the CP disorder. Because you can keep everything under control, the diagnosis is usually only made at a later age. When the condition is diagnosed, your joints are often already partly worn out.
Because I was only 48 years during that time, I thought it was important to keep moving. So I searched for a solution. During this search, I first ended up at POM in Nijmegen. Pom provides solutions that facilitate the activities in daily life. They advised me to look for a recumbent bike. So I went to a bike store in Nijmegen and tried multiple recumbent bikes. After that, I went to the Support fair and there I got to know Van Raam. On that day I tried several recumbent bikes, but came to the conclusion that I liked Van Raam's bicycle the most. On the Van Raam website I saw several user experiences, nice to read, but I wanted to experience it myself. I noticed that I also found it quite exciting, such a new bike.
Because you can’t buy a bicycle at Van Raam, I went looking for a dealer. Eventually, this dealer became MSC Mierlo. This dealer is selling both new and used special needs bikes. In the showroom there was a green Easy Sport at the time and I bought it. I did check in advance if I had room for the bike at home. Because there was unfortunately no room in our shed, the bike is now under a roof of the garage.
There had to be made soms small adjustements to the bike, amongst others, foot fixation (so that my feet don't fall off the pedals), the comfort chair (this one is better for my back) and a holder for my walker. In addition, the bike is adjusted so that I can control everything mainly with the left.
When purchasing a modified bicycle, quite a lot is involved. It is also important to find a good bicycle mechanic who has knowledge of special needs bicycles. For me it was a real search in the beginning to find a good bicycle mechanic who wanted to make my bike. This was partly because my recumbent tricycle is large and therefore takes up a lot of space on the work floor. Eventually I found a bicycle mechanic in Weert (The Netherlands) who I am very satisfied with. If there is something wrong with my recumbent tricycle, I go to Hans Struijk and he makes sure that after one day I can use my bike again.
When the time came and the modified bike was delivered, I had to get used to it in the beginning. Sometimes I was afraid that car drivers might not see me, because you are sitting lower than on a normal bike. But after a while I started to get used to it and now I cycle a bit every day. Along the way, I notice that road users take me into account on a positive way. For example, I once stopped at a bus stop because my blouse got stuck between the chain. (By the way, that’s something you have to take into account with this bike. Wide clothes or long blouses/dresses are less suitable because they are easier to get between the chains.) While my husband was seeking help, a bus came to the bust stop. Oh, dear, I thought. But the bus stopped, the driver got out the bus and asked if he could help me. I liked that so much! People seem to be more understanding when you’re on a special needs bike.
That people are very helpful I also discovered during a holiday in Germany. My husband and I went for a bike ride in the woods and met a group of mountain bikers. They looked at my Easy Sport with amazement. After a while the group met us again and told us that there was a muddy path further on and they weren’t sure if I could get through it with my bike. They offered to ride along and to lift me over the path with my bike and all. Later it turned out that I could cycle along the path with my bike, but the gesture was very friendly.
By the way, the mountain bikers are not the only ones who look at my bike. Regularly I get positive remarks and questions about my recumbent bicycle with three wheels. People who are no longer able to cycle themselves and get into conversation with me, become enthusiastic to cycle again and would like to see what options are possible for them. I’m very happy with my bicycle and I couldn’t imagine myself without it. If I can help people with my story and convince them to cycle again, I feel very grateful!
Gitty Verbaal - Weert
Type: Easy sport
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