December 2, 2005: Design Meeting with Page Product Design- Creation of Design Challenge Document

(Editor’s Note:)

Subject: [MorphingHandcycle] Meeting notes and Challenge description

Date: December 2, 2005 5:29:18 PM EST


We had a great meeting yesterday at Bill's office.  Bill, Rory, Jamie
and Graham attended.  We accomplished the main goal of creating a
draft definition of the problem (in the form of a challenge
description).  We also began the brainstorming which gives us a jump
on the feasibility analysis (Phase II).

The initial draft of the challenge statement is posted in the files
section of the group.  Bill has additional information from the
meeting in the form of an audio recording and pictures of sketches and
people etc.  Bill, please let us know if you can post those on the
yahoo group.

The next steps of the process will be to take some time (approximately
2 weeks) for everyone in the group to check the challenge statement:
make sure that it makes sense and see if we have left anything out. 
Jamie will go over it with Matt and Mike and PPD will do more
brainstorming on vehicles that could accomplish all the important
tasks identified so far.  Bill and Rory, please continue your
brainstorming also.  

I would suggest that we check in (possibly conference call) in a week
or so to review the challenge statement and brainstorming progress. As
you brainstorm, please record results in a format that can be posted
on the group.

As brainstorming progresses, we will keep track of the ideas generated
and then at some point have a session to initially choose which ones
get taken to the next level (computer models, small scale rough
physical models, research into mechanisms etc).

Comments / suggestions welcome


Here is the Design Challenge Document:

Problem Specification: Definition of the challenge
We feel that the following set of tasks cannot currently be adequately addressed by any single assistive device.  The lives of many people with disabilities can be greatly improved if a device can be created that can allow the user to perform all of these tasks with relative ease and is otherwise pleasing to the user.  The winning solution will be able to complete these tasks in the least time, though other factors such as comfort, ease of use, overall versatility and “I want that!” will also be taken into strong consideration. The tasks below are presented as part of a typical day.

Essential elements of the vehicle not explicitly described in the challenge tasks:
Must have the “magic / I want that” factor in hand cycle mode;  People should want to use it because it’s a good handcycle that happens to be able to also bring them into tight indoor spaces such as restaurants and bathrooms.
Suggested vehicle weight: 30-40 lbs;  less is better if other requirements can be met.
Must be able to carry crutches in all modes.
Must be able to change a flat tire w/o assistance.
Should be easy to maintain (for example by using traditional bike components wherever possible)
Should be easily loaded into and out of a car (i.e. can be done by a person with a disability without assistance)
Must transition from one phase to another with “reasonable” effort and no assistance.  Morphing should take less than 2 minutes in either direction.
Must accommodate an “easy access” bag large enough for everyday items – similar to a bag that can carry a laptop computer.  Bag placement should not unduly impede other vehicle operations.

The Challenge:
Transfer from a regular wheelchair into the Morph inside a house.
Open the door.
Leave the house (fit through the doorway 26 inches wide).
Load morph into the back of a minivan.  This may involve the use of crutches so the user can get then into the driver’s seat of the car.  Drive to nice cycling location.
Unload the Morph from the car and transfer into the Morph.  Stow crutches.
Climb and descend a10% grade grass hill 100 feet long.  (for example to get from a parking lot to watch a game at a soccer field)
Back up in handcycle mode to maneuver.
Cycle on roads for approximately 6mi.  Roads will be hilly, windy, rough and include stop signs. Rider should be able to achieve up to 30 mph.
Get to the post office: Open door, go inside.  Back up and turn 180 degrees in a 4 ft radius.  It is allowable to back up a maximum of 3 times to execute the turn.
Get keys & mail out of bag and back into bag.
Reach up to unlock mail box and check the mail.  Reach up to a height of 58 inches.
Pay cashier, (counter 38 inches high).
Go down the sidewalk and into the bank.
Go up a 6 inch curb and down an 8 inch curb.
Go into the grocery store & maneuver to any part of the store.
Use an ADA bathroom efficiently including handwashing.
Shop for 2 bags of groceries, reaching up to shelves 65 inches tall.
Transfer 10-12 items from shelf into basket.
Unload basket and Check out.
Transfer bags from checkout into basket.
Cycle back to car, Go 6 miles up to 30 mph with groceries on the vehicle.
Repeat car load/unload procedure and drive back to house.
Proceed through the door and into the house. 
Transfer back to regular wheelchair.

November 15, 2005: Move With Freedom Name Established

(Editor’s Note: )


Subject: Move With Freedom, Inc.

Date: November 15, 2005 6:06:31 PM EST



Rory and I came up with a name, and available domains...


Move With Freedom, Inc.


I got the .com, .org, and .net domains.


I set up a very basic website:


Publishing is complete. Please see Publish Details below for more information.

You probably can't wait to go and visit your new Web site. Don't be alarmed if your site is not immediately available on the Internet, it can take between 24 and 48 hours for your domain name (your Web site name) to be circulated, or broadcasted, across the Internet.

Publish Details
Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 6:04 PM
Status: Complete

October 21, 2005: Rory Note to Page Product after Online Meeting

(Editor’s Note:  Our first meeting was at the Warner Research offices in Cambridge on September 28, 2005 . This email is a followup from Rory.)

Subject: Re: Fw: industrial design - Morphing Handcycle project

Date: October 21, 2005 2:15:10 PM EDT

Hello Matt, Jamie, and Graham,

I am pleased that the Webex connection with Bill has you energized with the morphing handcycle project.  I was unable to be on the connection at the time.

Your email exchange expresses enthusiasm for the project.  That is exciting for me.

For a number years Bill and I have had an ongoing conversation about the creation of morphing vehicles.   i.e. A handcycle which could be made more compact and function like a wheelchair - when you arrive at a destination.

Our ongoing conversation continued just the other day when we were at a conference in Boston.  We came out the building using wheelchairs and needed to head down the road to another site for an evening event.  As we were wheeling along, I expressed to Bill, "Now,  if we were on our morphs ! ! . . . .   My joking, yet serious comment, had the intent that the chairs we were in, would morph into a handcycle or other vehicle which would lend itself to cruising down the road,  . . . . then we would arrive at our destination  . . .  and they would "morph" back into a chair and we would enter the building and have the maneuverability of a well designed, sporty vehicle.

Bill's first design for a handcycle, the New England handcycle, circa 1980, has more maneuverability than a majority of handcycles being produced today.  The "lower, longer profile ", "longer distance" handcycles have become more popular. Most have a very wide turning radius, larger footprint, and less maneuverability in smaller and tighter spaces.

I have done a fair amount of long distance handcycling and most of those handcycles work well for that primary purpose.  Though I often found it frustrating to be out on a handcycle and be unable to enter the door to a convenience store to purchase a drink or something to eat, or enter an office building, or any space which did not permit wide turns, have wide aisle, etc

I believe a vehicle can be created which will provide more accessibility to folks who use both chairs and handcycles.

I am excited by the possibility of working together because you come recommended and the examples of your work on the web site suggest that this kind of design project might be a good fit.
Should we have the opportunity, I look forward to working together.

Rory McCarthy

At 09:49 PM 9/28/2005 -0400, you wrote:
----- Original Message ----- From: "Matthew Page" <>
To: "Bill Warner" <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 5:52 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: industrial design

Hi Bill,
It was very good to connect today. We're very energized after the meeting, and will get a proposal to you asap!
Bill Warner wrote:


Lets do 4pm. I'd like to conference in Rory McCarthy, who is the idea man behind this project.

Let's have everyone call 617 303 2477 at 4pm. I can conference from there.

Also, at least for part of the discussion it might be helpful be able to share computer screens.

I have an account on Webex, and I've schedule a meeting.  Go to
before the meeting, and have it download the software. It takes a few minutes. Works on Internet Explorer on PC's. Works on Netscape 4.7 (!) on Macs.

    Topic:  Morphing Handcycle
    Host:  William Warner
    Date:  Wednesday, September 28, 2005
    Time: 4:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00, New York)

Looking forward to our discussion.

-- Bill

September 21, 2005: First Contact with Page Product Design

(Editor’s Note:  Mike Augspurger, who builds off-road handcycles, and has worked with Bill Warner over the years, recommended Matt and Jamie Page of Page Product design as a way to make the Morph ideas real. The email below was our first contact.)

Subject: Fw: industrial design

Date: September 21, 2005 3:21:58 PM EDT

Hello Matt and Jamie,


Mike told me about your design company.


I'm interested in working with you, and would like to talk.


We have a bunch of files in the yahoo groups area that you could look at. Do either of you have a yahoo member name?


Please let me know, and lets talk soon.


-- Bill


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 2:58 PM
Subject: industrial design




PPD is located just off of Interstate 91 in Western Massachusetts. We are 45mins from the Hartford International Airport, and 1.5hr from Boston.

Page Product Design, Inc.
221 Pine St.
Suite #430
Florence, MA, 01062
413-586-7132 (phone)
225-410-0051 (fax)

July 13, 2005: Early Issues: Modeling People in 3D

(Editor’s Note:  Early on we struggled with how to have good human models that we could work with in 3D. Srini Vasan runs a 3D animation company, and offered to model Bill and Rory based on the measurements.  If you join the Yahoo Group, you can download the XSI model from the link in the email below. -- Bill)


This email message is a notification to let you know that
a file has been uploaded to the Files area of the MorphingHandcycle

File : /
Uploaded by : vasan <>
Description : XSI Model of Bill Warner

You can access this file at the URL:

To learn more about file sharing for your group, please visit:




HOW TO PLAY THIS FILE: This is a frame-at-a-time Quicktime movie. When you hit the black triangle play button, it will play just one frame. Click on the button again to go to the next frame. Or, grab the slider and move through the animation as you wish.

(Editor’s Note:  Here you can see we began to work on the issue of how to stow the front wheel, and what to do with the cranks.)

June 27, 2005: Early Design Work - Diagram of Rory's Measurements


(Editor’s Note: We began to use a Yahoo Groups mailing list for the project. Many of the messages that discuss the early history of the project are in that group. I may create some guest account so anyone can look at all the email messages. For now, if you’re curious, just join the group on Yahoo Groups. We’re not currently using it, but may get back to it as a tool.  -- Bill)
The link to the site that proposes this diagram is:

Subject: [MorphingHandcycle] Morhpinghandcycle Measurements.PDF

Date: June 27, 2005 9:43:23 AM EDT

Attached are Rory's measurements.
Srini - can you add Mike Augspurger to this Yahoo Group
His email is  
Mike is the expert frame builder that Bill referenced in his first email on this project.
Thank You.
At 02:34 PM 6/23/2005 -0400, you wrote:


Yahoo! Groups Links
•To visit your group on the web, go to:
•To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
•Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


Yahoo! Groups Links
•To visit your group on the web, go to:
•To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
•Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


Just a few days later, after more discussions with Rory, we began to look at how the machine could stow the front wheel, and remove the pedals.

(Editors Note from Bill: This actually began a difficult foray into asking too much of the design. We wanted it to be a handcycle and a wheelchair. Later, after much time and pain, we removed the wheelchair function and got back to the roots of the design which was truly a “Morphing Handcycle” Interestingly, now there is a new project, just beginning, for a Morphing Wheelchair that will apply the morphing mobility lessons that we learned, but now to a wheelchair rather than handcycle-centered design.)



As Rory and I talked about the idea, it seemed doable. This animation just used snippets of photos from the existing Bobby Hall handcycle, and with frame at a time animation in Powerpoint, you could see it morph.

It’s pretty amazing to see that the eventual Morph 2 prototype came back to the this basic idea.

Press the black triangle on the Quicktime control bar above to start playing.

May 11, 2005: Rory McCarthy Very Early Email about “Transforming Wheelchair”

This is one of the earliest emails I could find about the Morph. Julian Groeli worked with Mike Augspurger at One-Off.



Subject: Re: Fw: transforming wheelchair

Date: May 11, 2005 11:28:45 AM EDT



Hello Julian,

Over the years, when Bill and I have been out handcycling (on a Hall handcycle, though the circumstances would be the same on a Top End / Invacare or Freedom Ryder handcycles)  I wished it would be possible when we got to a destination  - to enter a building or home - by converting or morphing the handcycle into a more compact, maneuverable, wheelchair-like vehicle which could allow the rider more accessibility to more places - more interior spaces and more exterior places with tight maneuverability.   Handcycles, like the ones I noted above (road bikes designed for longer distance and faster speeds) usually have a wide turning radius and lower seating position. This design is not optimal for other activities and mobility.  Thus the intent to have this morphing vehicle - "Morphing Mobility! "

The desire has been there to have / design / build a morphing handcycle/wheelchair for some time and as Bill noted - our intent is to develop one.

We should get together and discuss the possibilities.


Rory McCarthy

Bath, Maine


At 06:35 PM 5/10/2005 -0400, you wrote:


----- Original Message -----

From: "Julian Groeli" < 

To: "Bill Warner" < 

Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 10:58 AM

Subject: Re: transforming wheelchair



If possible I would like to help with the design and engineering of

this vehicle. This would extend from early concept development through

to a complete CAD model in SolidWorks for prototyping.


Currently I would like draw up a kind of spec sheet to detail all of

the required characteristics of each mode of operation (Turning Radius,

etc.) and the means of transformation (quick release, lever action,

etc.). This will help us find relationships and illustrate where our

most serious challenges will be.


The next stage would be to come up with a few concepts of how the

vehicle could transform, and to mock them up in CAD to see how they fit

together. This would then give us the preferred direction, that would

then be further refined for prototyping and testing.


I would like to talk more about this with you and with everyone else

involved to get to know the team.




On May 10, 2005, at 5:32 AM, Bill Warner wrote:




The bike wouln't have the mountain bike mode.


Three modes:


Upright handcycle ala New England Handcycles (blue bike on loan to

Mike) Racing bike, ala Bobby Hall...low, legs in frontWheelchair mode - somehow get rid of drive mechanism.


The world of transforming vehicles of any sort is quite small. Most

never attempt this because a special purpose vehicle is so much better than a

general purpose one.


However, if you can only take one vehicle with you, and you can't get

out of it, then a vehicle that can transform, even though it would be much

heavier, makes sense.


searched for "transforming bicycle" ...  Shows a rear

wheel approach that would allow slow speed stability, but titlt cornering!


One design that does transform is the folding bicycle. A little

different because it is active only when unfolded, and when folded, it just sits

there. Nevertheless, instructive:


Julian... what would you like to do on this project? Its not very well

formed yet, but the intent is there!


-- Bill


----- Original Message -----

From: < 

To: "Bill Warner" < 

Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 10:44 AM

Subject: transforming wheelchair


 Dear Mr. Warner


 My father-in-law, Charlie Brenner, just told me about your project to

 develop a transforming wheelchair. I understand that your ideal

 solution would encompass the roles of a wheelchair, a mountain bike

 and a street bike. While working at One-Off I was also thinking of a

 similar design, except without the "street-bike" mode. Either way,

 this presents a substantial design challenge, but the resulting product

 would make a world of difference.


 I would like to learn more about your project, and would welcome the

 chance to contribute to the design and engineering process.


 Thank you,

 Julian Groeli