Motor-trike for disabled bikers heads for the US

The UK manufacturer of a motorcycle that can be driven from a wheelchair has streamlined its production, and is now on course to break into the US market, thanks to help from the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

Martin Conquest has signed an agreement with MobilityWorks, one of America’s largest providers of adapted vehicles for individuals with disabilities, and is now building demonstration vehicles to US specifications for MobilityWorks' 55-strong dealer network.

Called the Conquest 1200 and designed for those with disabilities from the waist down, the the 109bhp, twin-cylinder vehicle is a motor-tricycle with an automated access ramp that allows the driver to board by manual or electric wheelchair, which is then locked in place. It also has a fold-down passenger seat, and is priced at £29,480, or £32,500 in US spec.

It uses the front-end of a standard BMW 1150, which is welded to an aluminium frame with two rear alloy wheels. Conventional steering, a reverse gear and limited slip rear wheel differential provide all the required functionality and control from modified handlebars, while a streamlined fibreglass body gives the Conquest a highly unusual presence and style.

"We are very excited about what the Conquest means to our customers,” said Bill Koeblitz, president of MobilityWorks. “For the first time ever in the US, people with disabilities will have the option of driving a motorcycle from their wheelchair. This new level of freedom is unsurpassed, and allows our customers to live their passions, and to live without boundaries.”

Martin Conquest said that advice from the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the North West helped it improve cost-effectiveness and introduce new processes that reduced production time by 20 per cent. It also assisted with the introduction of operating procedures that reduced product rectification times and thereby speeded pre-delivery inspections by 30 per cent.

“The impartial advice from MAS was invaluable in not only helping us increase our production, but also in enabling us to secure this prestigious international contract for our company,” said Graeme McFarlane, the company's managing director.

Once the initial run of 57 demo vehicles for the US is complete, a new US company called Mobility Conquest will take over production for that market. McFarlane said that Martin Conquest’s Manchester factory would carry on producing the Conquest 1200 for the UK - where it is approved by Motability for inclusion in its Hire Purchase Scheme, so disabled drivers can use their disability allowance as part payment for the vehicle - and the rest of the world.

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