Bicycles

Varibike lets you pedal with your legs – and your arms

Varibike lets you pedal with y...
The Varibike in action
The Varibike in action
View 20 Images
The Varibike's setup allows riders to cruise along using leg power only, arm power only, or a combination of both
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The Varibike's setup allows riders to cruise along using leg power only, arm power only, or a combination of both
The Varibike weighs 15 kg (33 lb)
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The Varibike weighs 15 kg (33 lb)
A rubber-sheathed chain drive connects the arm cranks to the main drivetrain
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A rubber-sheathed chain drive connects the arm cranks to the main drivetrain
The newer FR3 model adds separate freewheels to each arm crank
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The newer FR3 model adds separate freewheels to each arm crank
Along with the arm cranks, the Varibike also has a set of quite narrow flat handlebars
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Along with the arm cranks, the Varibike also has a set of quite narrow flat handlebars
The base FR2 model of the Varibike features a 7005/7020 aluminum frame, and components such as a Shimano XT rear derailleur (there’s no front derailleur), a Ritchey Pro V2 seatpost, and Schwalbe BigApple 28 x 2.00 tires
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The base FR2 model of the Varibike features a 7005/7020 aluminum frame, and components such as a Shimano XT rear derailleur (there’s no front derailleur), a Ritchey Pro V2 seatpost, and Schwalbe BigApple 28 x 2.00 tires
Steering looks like it could be a little ... unusual, but is reportedly achieved simply by leaning one's body into the turns
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Steering looks like it could be a little ... unusual, but is reportedly achieved simply by leaning one's body into the turns
On the F3 model, the arm cranks can be used in “Synchron Style,” in which they stay side-by-side to produce a sort of rowing motion
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On the F3 model, the arm cranks can be used in “Synchron Style,” in which they stay side-by-side to produce a sort of rowing motion
According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs
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According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs
The Varibike in action
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The Varibike in action
The Varibike's setup allows riders to cruise along using leg power only, arm power only, or a combination of both
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The Varibike's setup allows riders to cruise along using leg power only, arm power only, or a combination of both
The Varibike weighs 15 kg (33 lb)
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The Varibike weighs 15 kg (33 lb)
A rubber-sheathed chain drive connects the arm cranks to the main drivetrain
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A rubber-sheathed chain drive connects the arm cranks to the main drivetrain
The newer FR3 model adds separate freewheels to each arm crank
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The newer FR3 model adds separate freewheels to each arm crank
Along with the arm cranks, the Varibike also has a set of quite narrow flat handlebars
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Along with the arm cranks, the Varibike also has a set of quite narrow flat handlebars
The base FR2 model of the Varibike features a 7005/7020 aluminum frame, and components such as a Shimano XT rear derailleur (there’s no front derailleur), a Ritchey Pro V2 seatpost, and Schwalbe BigApple 28 x 2.00 tires
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The base FR2 model of the Varibike features a 7005/7020 aluminum frame, and components such as a Shimano XT rear derailleur (there’s no front derailleur), a Ritchey Pro V2 seatpost, and Schwalbe BigApple 28 x 2.00 tires
Steering looks like it could be a little ... unusual, but is reportedly achieved simply by leaning one's body into the turns
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Steering looks like it could be a little ... unusual, but is reportedly achieved simply by leaning one's body into the turns
On the F3 model, the arm cranks can be used in “Synchron Style,” in which they stay side-by-side to produce a sort of rowing motion
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On the F3 model, the arm cranks can be used in “Synchron Style,” in which they stay side-by-side to produce a sort of rowing motion
According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs
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According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs
The Varibike in action
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The Varibike in action

Earlier this year, we heard about a proposed arm- and leg-powered bicycle known as the 4StrikeBike. At the time, we knew that if it were to reach production, it would be facing some competition from the existing Raxibo Hand-Tret-Velo. Now, it turns out that another arm-and-legger has also recently hit the market – it's time to meet the Varibike.

As with the other two bikes, the Varibike features both a traditional leg-powered drivetrain, and a handlebar stem-mounted set of cranks that the rider turns with their arms. That arm power is transmitted from those cranks down to the main drivetrain via a rubber-sheathed chain drive. This setup allows the rider to cruise along using leg power only, arm power only, or a combination of both.

According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider's maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs. Of course, using all four limbs would also provide a more complete work-out.

Along with the arm cranks, the Varibike also has a set of quite narrow flat handlebars. Riders can switch to them in situations where they want a little more stability, or just feel like changing to a more upright position. Additionally, the shifter and brake levers are located on them.

According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs
According to the Varibike company, a study conducted by the University of New Mexico indicated that a rider’s maximum power output could be increased by over 30 percent when using both their arms and legs, as opposed to only their legs

Steering looks like it could be a little ... unusual, but is reportedly achieved simply by leaning one's body into the turns.

The base FR2 model of the Varibike features a 7005/7020 aluminum frame, and components such as a Shimano XT rear derailleur (there's no front derailleur), a Ritchey Pro V2 seatpost, and Schwalbe BigApple 28 x 2.00 tires. It's priced at €3,999 (US$5,350).

The newer €4,499 ($6,019) FR3 model adds separate freewheels to each arm crank. This allows them to be used not only in the traditional opposing configuration, but also in "Synchron Style," in which they stay side-by-side to produce a sort of rowing motion. Additionally, riders can just leave them both pointing forward, to serve as a set of aero bars.

The company informs us that both models tip the scales at 15 kg (33 lb). They can be seen in use, in the video below.

Source: Varibike

Varibike-pedal with arms and legs for more speed and a full body workout. Eurobike 2013

23 comments
Jon Smith
Umm... No thanks I'll stick to my tradition bike.
Slowburn
I think it is an attempt to improve the average intelligence of the human race.
Dvorák Bence
More chance to loose balance..
zevulon
i'd use this bike if it worked upside down.
Alonzo Riley
I want one hooked to my jaw, the most powerful muscle in the human body, for a bit of speed assist. I'd also save on chewing gum.
Keith Reeder
No handlebars, erratic steering input caused by the rider's hands going up and down, AND negative caster angle? They might want to licence the design to EXIT as a suicide machine...
Maelduin
Do you use your extra octopus arms for signalling?
Scion
I'd have thought the hand cranks wouldn't add a great deal. The maximum power a person can output is likely limited by their aerobic threshold. As in there is only so much oxygen a person can intake and burn for energy and the legs can probably use all of it faster than it can be produced. Pedaling flat out for any length of time will result in you running out of breath because your muscles are burning all of what you take in plus a little more (anaerobic energy production). Adding the arms to the mix will relieve some of the work from your legs but I don't think you'd have any more energy to give. It would be like connecting a second engine to the same fuel pump in a car. Only so much petrol can be pushed into the engine regardless how many engines you have. Though I suspect for short bursts you could gain a boost due to anaerobic energy production. This would probably only be of use to people who have not trained their legs for cycling. Or maybe there is an efficiency to be gained by sharing the load over more muscles?
NZRalphy
Oh come on, what is the point and what is wrong with a regular bike? Studies may prove there is more power available in the lab - but studies didn't prove this is unsafe. The 'bars' are way too narrow to be stable. What will someones reaction time be when moving from the cranks to the bars in a panic situation? What are the chances someone will miss the bars when letting go of the cranks and will imbed their teeth into the bars/cranks? What will the best way to go down a hill and this should be written into the owners manual? Not being negative but I have "safety" tabs on my front forks because some bozo couldn't work out a simple quick release - how do you think this bike will fare?
Ryan MacDougall
US$5,350 and it doesnt get disc breaks or have shocks. Lastly at 15 kgs that's quite heavy. No thanks, stupid concept let the free market concept decide its fate!