Handcycling is a great sport and can be a great way to exercise. It can be either recreational or competitive and the reason people love the sport so much is that you can ride alone, with friends or family or be part of a big cycling community.
First, ask yourself, "What are my goals?" Or, "Why do I want a handcycle?" If you want to get an aerobic workout and ride for fun with family or friends you might want to start off with a recreational handcycle because they are low maintenance and usually less expensive. If you want to compete or are thinking about eventually doing triathlons or any racing, then the competitive models are best for you.
Many new athletes wonder which is better for them: wheelchair racing or handcycling. The attached articles written by legendary Ernst van Dyk explains the benefits and challenges of each sport. He is one of the best athletes in the world and has excelled in both sports.
Handcycling Competition and classifications:
Handcycling is defined by athletes who have lower limb impairment that necessitates use of a hand-operated cycle.
There are five classes of handcycling.
H1 is the classification for quadriplegics/tetraplegics with severe upper limb impairment to the C6 vertebra.
H2 is the classification for quadriplegics/tetraplegics with minor upper limb impairment from C7 thru T3.
H3 is the classification for paraplegics with impairment from T4 thru T10.
H4 is the classification for paraplegics with impairment from T11 down, and amputees unable to kneel.
H5 is for athletes who can kneel on a handcycle, a category that includes paraplegics and amputees.