Christian Bagg grew up riding mountain bikes and snowboards in the Canadian Rockies. At 21, Bagg broke his back in a snowboard accident; the break damaged his spinal cord. For two years, Bagg couldn’t walk and his legs would violently tremble and shake, until a doctor suggested they completely sever his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down. Bagg agreed and immediately set about building an active life again from a wheelchair.
He’d been studying to become a machinist when he was injured, so he decided to employ his new skills to figure out a solution to regain the ability to do something he’d always loved—ride a bike in the mountains.
Bagg began fabricating prototypes for a bike/wheelchair combination in his basement during his off hours. His day job is helping build hardware for oncologists at a cancer treatment center in Calgary, Canada. Tinkering comes naturally to Bagg. He produced dozens of prototypes for his chair, beginning with simply attaching mountain bike wheels and tires on a conventional wheelchair, just to get the feel of pushing around in the dirt. After years of effort, he finally hit on sculpting pieces with a 3D printer.
This development kicked his prototype creation into hyperdrive. Bagg soon began perfecting the most difficult part of his design, stabilizing the chair/bike so that it could take roots and rocks at high speed.
Finally, a couple years ago, he’d ended up with a three-wheel design, with two articulating front wheels, and a big, meaty rear tire all powered by a 3,000-watt electric motor. After two decades off the trails, Bagg was back, ripping through trees, having fun in the mountains again.
“Every time I go out, I change something that doesn’t exist to try and make it better—and more fun,” Bagg said in an interview. “It didn’t even occur to me that I would be invited on a regular bike trip again.”
PBS NewsHour recently profiled Bagg and their video interview can be seen here.
Below is a great little video of Bagg explaining how his bike works, and shredding a gorgeous trail.