A more empowering alternative to the walker or mobility scooter, the Alinker is a walking trike designed for those that need a bit of assistance getting around but want to do so under their own steam. The curvy vessel provides needed support and takes the load off the lower limbs, while allowing the rider to remain upright and move forward under his or her own power.
Barbara Alink, a Dutch designer now living in Canada, created the Alink in response to her aging mother, who swore off the idea of ever using something like a walker or scooter. Alink decided that the "mobility aid" was in need of a refresh, reasoning that even the very term was uninspiring.
Instead of focusing only on the physical requirements of those needing mobility aids – emphasizing the disability, as Alink sees it – she set out to make something designed from the perspective of the end user, something that would be enjoyable to use and downright cool. She had pretty good timing since bikes, trikes and other forms of personal mobility, including non-pedaled walk/scoot bikes like the Levicle and Fliz, are pretty trendy right now.
After speaking to potential users, Alink came up with a design that even her mother would approve of. It's a three-wheeled bike with a radically arched aluminum frame connecting the two 16-in front wheels with the 8-in rear wheel. An adjustable seat is mounted toward the middle of the dropping tube.
The user sets the seat at a comfortable height and uses it to support their weight while walking. Not only does the Alinker allow for a more active, independent commute, it keeps the user sitting upright at eye level, where he or she can speak and engage with others more naturally.
The Alinker uses standard bicycle hardware and is designed to work with most standard bicycle accessories. It has a rear-wheel brake with cable running through the frame, which folds up at a joint just in front of the seat, creating a compact, shield-shaped package designed to slide in the trunk. The rear wheels are mounted via quick-release axles so they can be removed easily during transport and storage. The entire package weighs 26.5 lb (12 kg) and supports users up to 265 lb (120 kg).
Alink says that she's found an audience in The Netherlands, where the Alinker launched via crowdfunding last year. Users include those with physical conditions who have used the Alinker as a means of strength and conditioning, as well as those that have used it as a means of getting more generally physically active than they were using other mobility devices.
Alink is now working to launch the Alinker in North America and is hosting a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The Alinker is being offered in three sizes for different height/measurement users, starting at pledge levels of US$1,777, which is $200 off the retail price. There are also lower pledge levels for those that want to support the project but don't want to buy a unit. The campaign has already surpassed its $30,000 goal with a full month left.
Alink explains her journey toward launch in the 3.5-minute video below.
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