Hand Cycle

Robert Taylor and Bennie Erasmus from TT Engineering.

This is not their slogan as they are well aware that it belongs to another company, but Robert Taylor and Bennie Erasmus from TT Engineering in Brits live by this.

Their commitment to this motto is evident in their amazing engineering masterpieces. They have, for example, just manufactured the first off-road bicycle, or as it is better known, handcycle for quadriplegics, on home soil.

“Differently-abled people who need these cycles have always had to import them from other countries at the extremely high cost of around R120 000 per cycle,” Robert explains. “Although we have not calculated the exact cost of our cycles, they will be sold at roughly half the price.”

After thorough and ongoing research, they manufactured a cycle that is light, made 90% from aluminium, has a centering device and disc breaks all-round, which are just a few features which set these cycles apart from others and raise the bar. Robert tells that each individual is different and one needs to take into account the different needs of each one in order to know what angles to use, where the gravitational center of the cycle should be etc.

To test these cycles and give feedback every kilometer of the way, a quadriplegic cyclist will be riding one from Cape Town to Pretoria on 27 April to raise funds for a Cape Town school. Robert and Bennie will then know where to add the final, perfecting adjustments to ensure a product of the highest standard. “We will be in touch with Sandile who will tell us all the good and bad there is to know about the bike.”

A wonderful friendship was built between Robert and Bennie from when they met at a rugby game. Bennie plays wheelchair rugby for the Impala team. He became a quadriplegic after a bad vehicle accident a few years ago.

“I had been approached by the Leopards wheelchair rugby team to build wheelchairs for them, and the Impala team already had some players using my wheelchairs,” Robert explains. He is also the technical sponsor of the Impala wheelchair team, doing all the repair and maintenance on their wheelchairs at games and when travelling. He tells that he fixed 14 flat wheels during the league final which the Impala team won last weekend. “Working with differently-abled people opens your eyes because you see how much you have to be grateful for. The rugby players I sponsor play every game as if there is no tomorrow. They play hard.”

Building the wheelchairs and handcycles also takes more time and effort than meets the eye. Robert takes out a thick document from the IWRF (International Wheelchair Rugby Federation) and explains that there are strict measurements and criteria for the wheelchairs used in rugby games. “They get so strict with this in big league games that, should the wheelchair not be made accordingly, the player can be prohibited from playing.”

Robert and Bennie started talking at a rugby game and Bennie shared with Robert how many products quadriplegics want and battle to find. They discussed and brainstormed and shared ideas. “We now have a list of over 24 brand new, never seen or never manufactured in South Africa before concepts that we are working on.”

Robert had an interest in engineering while growing up and worked with his father, who is a qualified engineer. Now they are business partners.

“We invite anyone who is battling to find a product in South Africa to contact us and we will do everything in our power to manufacture it.” TT Engineering can be found on Facebook and for any information, Robert can be called on 076662210.


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