Many manufacturers today have designed hand powered recumbent trikes, or hand cycles. Handcycles are now a regular sight on the streets. The front wheels are driven by standard gearing, powered by hand cranks. Brake levers are mounted on the handholds. This allows the rider to more easily use their torso to help propel the cycle. The entire crank assembly and the front wheel turned together, allowing the writer to steer and crank simultaneously. Some designers use two front wheels and a single rear wheel, while others use lean-steer designs. A hand cycle is not a wheelchair.


Handcycles come in a variety of styles, which make them accessible to people with disabilities. There are also hybrids between hand cycles, a recumbent bike and a tricycle.

Fork steer hand cycles represent the majority of hand cycle sold. They work well for both low and high-level spinal injuries, with adjustable footrests, seat angle and come with a variety of gearing. They can be used for racing, recreation or touring.

Lean steer writers turn them by leaning into the turn. There is a longer learning curve and they are significantly less stable at high speed. The liens tier system is similar to mono skiing as you use your whole body to steer the hand cycle. They work well for lower level injuries. There is one other type of lean steer hand trike which has two steering rear wheels and one non-steerable, powered front wheel with handholds offset at 180 which are similar to petal cranks, which can be operated with only one hand making it easy to write uphill.

The off-road is different from other hand cycles in that there are two wheels in front and one behind. It has a lower gear ratio range. This gives a cycle the ability to tackle steep slopes and permits hand cycle mountain biking. The wider tire makes mountain biking possible also.

Hand cycles have been used for touring, and to better accommodate this, some manufacturers incorporate mudguards and cargo racks. As handcycles evolve they become progressively lighter and they are become better gearing for long climbs.