Tara Llanes combines high performance sport and small business success with adaptive equipment

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 02, 2022

Wheelchair basketball player sells adaptive mountain bikes


NORTH VANCOUVER – Nothing is going to stop Tara Llanes.

Llanes was a pro rider when a C-7 fracture and L-1 damage to her vertebrae paralyzed her lower extremities in a mountain bike crash in Colorado back in 2007. Her career highlights included four medals at the X Games.

Since then she has won national titles in wheelchair tennis and now is an established star on Canada’s women’s wheelchair basketball team. She competed at the 2020 Paralympic Games last summer in Tokyo and the 2019 Parapan Am Games in Lima.

But her success isn’t limited to the playing field. The 45-year-old Llanes is an entrepreneur in a business designed to help other people with a disability enjoy life in the great outdoors and seek adventure.

Llanes founded Tara Llanes Industries in 2014 which sells adaptive mountain bikes (aMTBs) to customers across Canada and in the U.S. Based in North Vancouver, she started the business after she determined there was a need for this type of equipment in Canada.

“When I was in rehab the first thing I wanted to do is get back out on the mountain,” said Llanes, just back home after a training camp with the national wheelchair basketball team in Colorado. “In 2007 they didn’t have the type of equipment that could do what I wanted to do.”

It wasn’t until she moved to Canada from the U.S. that friends of Llanes found Sport-On online and she had an adaptive bike shipped to her home.

“There were so many people stopping me on the trails to ask about it, but there were no Canadian reps selling them,” she recalled. “It seemed to me that British Columbia was the mecca of mountain biking and that there was a need and a desire, but no equipment.”

Llanes connected with the Polish founder of Sport-On, who was an amputee who competed in sit skiing at the Paralympic Games.

“I called up the owner and told him a little bit about who I was and the next thing you know I’m the Canadian rep for Sport-On,” she said.

“I knew nothing about starting a business, but I learned as I went. Sure enough there were tons of people that wanted to get outside with their family and friends and enjoy what B.C. had to offer. I initially started working with adaptive organizations in B.C., but then started branching out. I sell Sport-On aMTBs across Canada and in the U.S. as well.”

Llanes sells three-wheeled bikes which are ideal for gravel grinding, on the road, and all-mountain full suspension bikes with electric assist. There are various models to suit different requirements.

Listening to the various needs of her customers has helped improve the products of her aMTBs so the bikes can surmount any challenges both for the rider and terrain.

“Technology has changed through the years and gotten better,” Llanes said. “There are more ideas around aMTB and the equipment, which I believe helps us make an even better product than the years prior.

“Sometimes all it takes is to understand what works best and when it’s accessible for someone in a chair it will most likely be accessible for just about everyone.”

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