Easy Riders

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mark Roberts won’t lie. Earlier this year, after he agreed to become president of Mobility Conquest, the U.S. distributor of the Conquest, a wheelchair-accessible motorcycle, he worried.

“The motorcycle costs about $57,000, which is pretty expensive,” said Roberts, the former vice president of sales and marketing for Vantage Mobility International. “I thought, ‘Are people going to embrace this?’ But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many people are reaching out to us who used to be motorcycle riders and want to reconnect with their passion, or people who always wanted to ride.”

Mobility Conquest, which has its roots in the United Kingdom, distributes the Conquest through 35 dealers—not car dealers per se, but mobility equipment dealers that also sell wheelchair-accessible vans. It has sold 29 of the motorcycles so far.

Basically, from the engine forward, the Conquest is a BMW R1200RT motorcycle; from the engine backward, it’s a trike with a ramp. To ride the motorcycle, users just roll up a ramp, lock in (much like they would in a wheelchair accessible van) and take off.

“People assume that because it’s for people in wheelchairs that it goes slow—ummm, no,” Roberts said. “It goes zero to 60 in seven seconds. Not that we want people to do that. But we do want to give them the experience they miss.”

Roberts has been touring the country with the Conquest, hitting bike shows like Daytona Bike Week and disability shows like the Abilities Expo.

“The fun part for me is the look on people’s faces,” Roberts said. “They’ve always heard that they could never do this again. This one gentleman was a motorcycle policeman in Forth Worth, Texas, and what happened was, he was shot in the line of duty and he hasn’t’ ridden a motorcycle in 20 years. He said, ‘I miss it every day and now I can ride again.’”