Winnipeg builder offer increased mobility with homemade e-trikes

Click to play video: '‘Everywhere I couldn’t go before’: Increased mobility with homemade e-trikes'
‘Everywhere I couldn’t go before’: Increased mobility with homemade e-trikes
WATCH: Jared Funk rides an adaptive e-tricycle, hand built by his friend Cain Hashimoto. Hashimoto has built several custom adaptive tricycles out of his basement – Jun 13, 2024

On a Monday afternoon, Jared Funk and Cain Hashimoto zip around the Forks on their e-tricycles. Along winding gravel paths, up grassy hills, down cement stairs; there are few places the friends can’t go.

“We do all the trails around here, all around Winnipeg, the Trans-Canada Trail,” said Funk. “Haven’t done mountains yet — but ‘yet’ is the key word on that.”

Their trikes differ from most other e-assisted bikes and trikes on Winnipeg streets. Each has an elaborate suspension system, custom-designed and built by Hashimoto in his basement workshop. Funk’s trike seats him feet-first and features a wrist-operated braking system; as a C5 quadriplegic, the modifications allow him to more easily operate the trike.

“It’s a big opening for freedom for someone with disability,” Funk said.

Funk and Hashimoto met at an open house at First Steps Wellness Centre. Hashimoto had another custom-built e-trike with him, and he and Funk began talking about how the suspension could be adapted to go on a wheelchair.

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“We met one day, and a couple of drawings later, you know, he calls me, he said, ‘Hey, come down and check this out,'” said Funk. “Long story short, after a couple of back-and-forths, we came up with this other design here, and Cain put it together, and next thing you know, I’m able to go everywhere.”

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Hashimoto had previously built custom trailers so he could pull his wife, who is also a wheelchair user, and young child behind him on his bike. When they were inquired about a custom adaptive bike, the cost and the long wait deterred them. Hashimoto figured he could build one himself, and then began designing and building more complex suspension designs in his basement, using a mix of parts ordered online and modified at home.

“I have a broken vice. I have a small little tiny broken drill press. I have some hand files, a hacksaw, but will equals way, right?” he said.

Hashimoto says he’s built seven different bikes and trikes with suspension since. Each is modified to fit the rider’s needs, using materials available to him; Funk’s bike has a back brace from a kiteboarding setup.

“I even rolled it once, and this thing kept me in like no problem,” Funk said.

Funk is a former Team Canada wheelchair rugby player, and was looking for a new sport after retiring from the game.

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“They say, ‘Oh, you’re using an e-bike.’ Yeah, well, you try holding on to this thing when you’re going down hills and, you know, stabilizing your body and your arms,” he said. “It’s a good workout too.”

Funk also enjoys riding with his family. He used a hand cycle before he got the trike from Hashimoto.

“Before my bike, I was trying to wheel hard, catching up to my son, and now he’s got to pedal hard to catch up to me,” Funk said with a smile.

“It’s been an eye-opener for me to go places I couldn’t dream of going because of my disability,” he said. “Wheelchairs can’t get a lot of places, and this thing can get in those places.”

Hashimoto posts some of his builds on social media and YouTube, and says he’s been contacted by people asking for custom builds. But as a one-person operation with limited resources, he’s not able to build full-time. The trikes he does make, though, come at-cost to the rider.

“We’re not a nonprofit. If anything, I’m a lost profit,” he said. “I’ve sort of focused on the adaptive part because that’s where my heart is.”

Still, the cost of parts alone can range in the thousands — but Hashimoto and Funk say it’s still cheaper than some high-end bikes.

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“If you stick a handicap sticker on anything, it it’s like 50 per cent more,” Funk said.

“My family, my wife and son, we can go on all the trails and do something as a family. And the dog loves it, too.”

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