Vicair, part of the Invacare seating portfolio, has been producing pressure relieving cushions for wheelchairs for 25 years now and we believe that the newest SmartCells with a lifetime warranty are better than ever! The latest challenge is to see how a Vicair cushion will perform in an extreme activity… how about in the Dakar motorbike rally with a paraplegic rider?
Professional motorcyclist Nicola Dutto had won many races in his career including the Italian and European Baja Championship in 2008 and 2009. But Nicola experienced a spinal cord injury in the 2010 Italian Baja leaving him paralysed from his waist down. Despite this, a mere nine months out of his hospital bed, Nicola took part in the Baja 1000 on a Polaris Buggy, modified for his needs and announced that he would continue to compete on a motorbike. As you can imagine balancing on a motorbike as a paraplegic is a huge challenge, let alone competing in a cross-country rally! But in 2012 determined Nicola succeeded in becoming the first professional paraplegic motorbike rider – marking a point in history as he participated in the 500 km long Baja Aragon.
While most fully able-bodied professional motorcyclists would mostly stand when riding through rough terrain to avoid impact, shear and friction forces, Nicola Dutto is forced to sit while he races, which puts him at significant risk of skin breakdown around his buttocks. A suitable cushion offering him ultimate skin protection is essential for the intense environment that he races through.
Nicola met Vicair who offered to design a custom-made Vicair cushion so that he could use it as a motor saddle. In 2014, Nicola started using his newly-acquired Vicair cushion and finished races like the Baja 500 in Mexico, Vegas to Reno, as well as continuing to race on world stages like the F.I.M. Baja World in 2015, Best in the Desert in 2016 and Merzouga in 2017.
I’ve tried Vicair cushions for three years and I have tested it under all conditions without having any problems. Imagine the use on a motorbike which is 100 times more intense than it would be in a wheelchair. For me, a Vicair cushion is… the best system to avoid skin damage.
Nicola shares his experiences while managing a motorbike riding school for both disabled and non-disabled individuals with his wife Elena in Italy while also preparing for his ultimate goal – to participate in the Dakar Rally! Whilst Nicola uses a Vicair Active O2 in his wheelchair, he is now equipped with a new Vicair O2 cushion that is custom made for his tailor-made Dakar motorbike.
Follow Nicola’s progress through this prestigious 10-day contest - the 41st Dakar event in Peru from 6th January 2019. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Click here to find out more about the Vicair range of cushions available from Invacare.