We all need to play our part to beat coronavirus, but, in the meantime, does it have to spoil every pleasure in life?  Well, maybe not! 

Here at Tomcat, we’re taking coronavirus precautions very seriously and we’ve even taken a few dramatic steps of our own! Like removing all internal doors for example, so there are no handles left to touch – however, we’ve left the toilet doors in place by popular demand. Never mind, being an innovative company, we’ve installed swing bins outside each loo so we can open the door with a tissue then pop it in the bin. We’ve even gone as far as checking our thermos flasks for spiders and closing our kitchen. However, it wasn’t until I received an email from the secretary of the Cotswold Classic Car Club, that I realised just how intrusive this problem will be on every aspect of our lives.

My pride and joy is a red Ford Probe 24 valve sports car, which I renovated over 4 years and which sports a beautiful cream leather interior. The message of doom said that “Wheelnuts”, the Classic Car show and Gala in aid of St Roses special School in Stroud has been cancelled. Suddenly, the coronavirus became very personal because being an engineer, there is nothing I like better – on a bright and sunny, English summer’s day – than showing my car at a busy steam rally.

That got me thinking about what coronavirus must mean to people unfortunate enough to be confined at home, particularly those with a disability – and for what may be months on end by all accounts.

It seems a pretty dismal and dreary prospect to me. Even the young, fit and healthy among us are being advised not to use public transport or congregate in groups, and that got me thinking about how Tomcat could help the older age groups, vulnerable persons, or those with disability, and how – purely by chance – we may have designed the solution to this very problem, many, many years ago!

Confined to barracks!

Just for now, staying at home is not about keeping our over seventies or other vulnerable people under house arrest, it’s about keeping them at a safe distance from potential carriers. Because we don’t know who those carriers are, it is best to avoid all contact, and that is particularly true of commuting and public transport where close contact is inevitable.

But what if those vulnerable people were to take to bikes or trikes? Suddenly people in the “stay home” category would be able to get out and about in the summer sunshine whilst still avoiding the crowded places, cough’s and sneezes, and stuffy public transport with its bug laden, recirculated air. Surely, that must be a good idea! In Belgium it is even government policy.

The Guardian recently reported that, “bikes allow people to maintain isolation but provide important respite from being indoors.”

Furthermore, cycling gives individuals the choice to access the outdoors, and to maintain good health and, above all, mental well-being.

Health Benefits.

If you like that idea, let me tell you about the health benefits of a tricycle, because cycling really is one of the best exercises you can have, and with modern day power assist, it doesn’t have to be hard work.
We get much of our vitamin D from sunshine, whilst being outside in the fresh air increases our oxygen intake. This in turn boosts our immune system and cleanses our lungs by releasing airborne toxins. Fresh air helps our digestive system, blood pressure and heart rate too, not to mention giving us more energy and a sharper mind. In a nutshell: fresh air and exercise are good for you, but I’m sure you already know that!

Perhaps as important as staying fit and healthy during this tricky time of daily doom and gloom, is that a daily dose of fresh air and sunshine will lift your spirits, and give you a lot of pleasure into the bargain, and you can’t put a price on that!

So, if I’ve convinced you that a trike is a good idea and you would like an assessment – let’s see how we solve the “Self-Isolation” issue.
For over twenty years, Tomcat have been designing and building the world’s most innovative tricycles for all age groups. Requirements are often diverse and vary from simple balance problems to profound disabilities. Apart from the generic Dragon and Dragonfly, we have always custom built our trikes, and that policy is important for our customers because it enables us to truly understand an individual’s skills and difficulties – both physiological and practical. It ensures that our trikes are just what is needed and enables us to guarantee that if the product is not exactly as expected, you will be fully refunded.

Normally we would assess our customers through a home visit, but in these difficult times that is not really possible. Never mind because as I mentioned, we devised a system of remote assessment, some years ago, that is almost as good as the personal touch.

How our “remote” assessment evolved.

Tomcat’s first and signature innovation was Carer Control™, a “Rear Steering and Braking” system that enabled a parent to fully control a tricycle for their disabled child. It revolutionised the industry and was in demand throughout the UK and abroad. Our most remote order was in 1991 for a child in Chernobyl, neurologically affected by radiation sickness. Obviously, it is impossible to visit customers in such far flung locations, therefore, we devised a very effective system for assessing customers remotely, even those that have profound difficulties.

Using all the tools in the box.

In the early days we developed a very simple paper questionnaire in several languages, which was followed in 2015 by an online questionnaire with drop down responses to simple everyday questions.

These days our assessors can also use apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime, if a customer is OK with that method. However, we still complete the online questionnaire as it is such a proven tool and provides us with an essential record of a customer’s initial skills and abilities. That is important because changes may be needed over time, and responding to changes is an important part of our customer service.

What product is best suited to this present crisis.

That will depend upon your requirements but for most over seventies and vulnerable people, The Silver Bullet will be the most suitable model. If a customer has more complex issues, there are many other options that we can discuss. If you would like to know more, visit https://tomcatuk.org/disability-bikes-adult-teenager/tomcat-silver-bullet/, but here are a few of the key features.

About the Silver Bullet.

You could think of the Silver Bullet as a bicycle with three wheels – with an 8 speed Shimano Hub gear, and optional power assist, of course!
Except that a bicycle can’t normally be taken apart in a few seconds, popped in the boot of a car then transported to somewhere you’d far rather be, like a park, cycle trail or local beauty spot where it can be just as easily re-assembled. So long as you use your trike to keep a safe distance from others – it really doesn’t matter where you choose to cycle.

An annotated CAD drawing of the E-Bullet. Title reads: Tomcat E-Bullet Trike. Labels read: Swivel, sliding and removable seat mechanism (optional); Quick Release, Two Piece Frame; Foldable handlebars - for easier transportability; Self-Centralising Steering System; 5 or 8 Speed Hub option; Quick Release Wheels; Easy to Remove Battery Pack.

The strength to Cycle.

If you are concerned about your strength, or you want to take your Bullet on a long journey, then power assist is a great feature to take the hard work out of cycling. A powerful 250watt motor can accelerate you to a “pull away” speed of 4 miles per hour, then when you start to pedal, there are six power setting to take you to the legal limit of 15.5mph. The Tomcat Silver Bullet is the only truly transportable, power assisted trike available today.

Additional Features.

If you are concerned about your balance or co-ordination, then the Bullet has some fantastic features to help you. Its comfortable seat is at a natural sitting height which swivels to the side for easy access. It slides very easily too, which gives you more space to get on and off and allows you to easily adjust your riding position.

Impressive transport features.

We believe that simple transportability is everything, which is why we designed the Silver Bullet to be assembled, or diss-assembled, in under a minute. Please Click here to watch the assembly video. The Silver Bullet’s transport features include: a quick release two-part frame, folding handlebars, removable seat, removable drive wheels and removeable rear mudguards. At just 19kg for the standard 8 speed model, the Silver Bullet is very manageable as well as practical.

Safety Features.

The Silver Bullet has some great safety features too, like a differential drive for equal power distribution to both rear wheels; self-centralising steering for light and positive steering response and powerful braking on all three wheels. A 140-decibel horn, front and rear LED lights and a safety flag complete the safety package.

A Trike for many years to come.

If you are longing to bring a bit of normality back to your life, then please do give Tomcat a call and let us help.

We would assess the best health and social solution for you, using either our online questionnaire, phone apps, photos and videos or a combination of any of those options.  From our assessment we can provide you with an obligation free quote that will not change unless you request a feature change yourself.  Once we receive your order, we will build and dispatch your trike, either by courier for you to set it up yourself, or for one of our field assessors to call.  He will demonstrate the machine and all its features and answer any of your questions, all at a safe distance of course.  There is also a setup video that you can watch at any time to help you set things up, yourself, or just to refresh your memory.

Let’s get our lives back on track and let’s make it a cycle track…!