My engineer is about 2 months post shoulder surgery for right rotator cuff repair. He still can’t put any significant weight on the arm. His main exercise is his stationary (spinning ) bike in our basement, but he was finding that sitting upright the whole time was uncomfortable. Leaning forward as much as would be needed to use the good arm to hold the normal handle on the bike was risky. So, he made himself a handle extension out of PVC pipe!
Here is a list of supplies that he used, most of which were just odds and ends of PVC pieces left over from other projects:
- 1.25 inch PVC pipe
- PVC T-joint to fit outside/around 1.25 inch pipe
- PVC elbow to fit outside/around 1.25 inch pipe
- PVC bushings (cut off pieces of 1.25 inch pipe) to fit inside the open ends of T-joint
- old broom handle
- duct tape
- old bolt from a bucket of bolts
- sand paper, coarse grit
- drill press
- PVC pipe primer
- PVC pipe glue
First, he sat on the bike and put his hand out in a position that felt like it would work for the handle. With a table saw, he cut the extending piece of PVC pipe, that piece that would be connected to the T-joint to create that length. (He “made” me use the hand saw when I made the PVC pipe chicken pen…) This piece was glued to the to the T joint on one end and the elbow on the other. The actual handle, that he would hold onto, was made by gluing a pre-cut scrap of PVC pipe into the other end of the elbow. It could be shorter, but working on all of this with only one functional arm doesn’t inspire unnecessary cutting.
The open section of the T-joint almost fit perfectly over the inner handle of the spinning bike. At first, it was too big, which made it too loose to be a support. So, he glued a PVC bushing inside each end. The T-joint has ridges in it that prohibit putting a solid piece of pipe all the way through it, but in order for it to not rock back and forth, it needed something to keep it evenly on the handle.
This modification made the opening just a bit too small. Trying to sand the inside of the bushings was the next step. He cut off the end of an old broom handle. Then, he located an old bolt from his legendary bucket of old bolts and nails. He used a drill bit in his drill press to make a hole in the cut circle end of the broom handle. The old bolt was screwed into the drill press so that he could use the power of the drill press to get it into the broom handle. He left the broom handle -bolt combo in the drill press.
Once this was finished, sand paper was duct taped to the outer cylinder of the old broom handle. The sand paper was long enough to wrap around the broom handle and cover the duct tape. The bushing ends of the PVC pipe were put over the sand paper rod and the drill press was turned on.
It still was taking a long time to sand down, but he did it just enough so that it fit tightly onto his bike handle. Oddly, when he used it once on my bike, which is the exact same model, it was enough tighter that it sheared off thin threads of rubber when it was removed. On either bike, it did just what he had hoped, giving him more stability and a better angle for riding. It is not strong enough to put his full weight on, though. It is more a matter of balance. It could be made out of steel, but that would mean using threaded pipe or welding, which was too much work this time. He points out that it could be painted like we did with the adjustable greenhouse lights PVC bar.
His injury was a combination of a 20 year old hit-the-ground-while-catching-a-softball impact, followed up with unusually intense ultimate Frisbee last December. But I have heard of cyclist crashing and having the same injury, so this idea could come in handy for frustrated recovering cyclists, too. No one likes to be injured, but it is nice to find ways to make the process go more smoothly.
(Two PVC pipe projects are mentioned and linked to in the text. Here is another using PVC pipe to make an underwater timer.)