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From prototype to business start-up, with the help of Innovation Factory, AREA Science Park’s incubator 

The first motorbike licence for a multi-amputee

13.09.2012 -

The proud holder of a full driving licence, he is now able to ride a motorbike safely despite having had his hands and legs amputated: a real achievement for 45-year-old Fulvio Marotto, a motorbike enthusiast from Treviso. He is the first person with serious limb disabilities to pass his driving test and convince the vehicle licensing authorities that he really is able to ride a motorbike without posing a danger to himself or others. This achievement, which is also highly significant for many other people with severe motor disabilities, has been possible thanks to the ingenuity of Marotto himself. A mechanic by trade, he has designed and patented a series of driving and braking solutions which can also be used by non-disabled motorcyclists.


The solutions, designed and fitted to his motorbike by hand (for now), are based on a new gear synchronisation system which also regulates clutch pressure, allowing for quicker gear changes. The system, potentially also suitable for use by professional riders when racing, also avoids power loss during the gear change, making for a more fluid, safer drive - and also quicker for those on the racetrack. This makes the motorbike easier to control, and enhances its road hold. The new braking system on the rear wheel also rebalances the ratio between right and left bends. The series of innovations is completed with new hand adapters, which enable a safe, modular grip. The grip contains a control system that governs various controls including the accelerator, brakes, indicators, lights and horn. With this system, an amputee can manage up to 9 mechanical, electrical and electromechanical controls more easily, using driving gestures more efficiently compared to the traditional method. A video on Youtube shows how the devices work (, but anyone wanting to see the modified bike close up can do so tomorrow, Friday 14 September, at Palazzo Franchetti in Venice, during the Arscientia event.


By combining his creative talent with his experience as a mechanic, bodyshop and materials technician, Marotto has successfully overcome a serious and sudden multiple amputation caused by an untreated bout of pneumonia 9 years ago, by inventing and testing, first-hand, innovative solutions that could improve the lives of many. His next step is to industrialise the results of his creations by setting up a company, thanks to the support of Innovation Factory, AREA Science Park's business incubator. Apart from the motorbike solutions, various prototypes have already been designed, particularly for sports equipment used in cycling, windsurfing, canoeing, skiing, skating, golf and tennis. For years, Marotto has not only ridden a motorbike: he is also keen on skating, skiing, canoeing, cycling, driving, and sledging using the lower-limb prostheses he has designed and patented himself.


"This is a new chapter in the life of disabled people" is Marotto's view. "When I began thinking about motorbikes again, nine years ago, this was absolutely unimaginable. Driving without legs or hands was out of the question. My biggest challenge has been to beat the bureaucrats: my bike was ready after three years' work, the rest of the time was needed to convince the authorities that my solutions were valid, and safe".


Fulvio has had to undergo many tests and examinations in order to obtain his licence. First, a committee of vehicle licensing engineers carried out a study of the new mechanical adaptations and devices. He was then granted a hearing before the Ministerial Transport Commission, during which he underwent a five-hour theory and practical test, after which he received a certificate granting him his special licence. The biggest problem to overcome was the absence of a law allowing a person with multiple amputations of the lower and upper limbs to ride a motorbike. Finally, just a few days ago, he underwent a medical check-up and received the green light.


Marotto is keen to underline that "Essential input to this project came from Yuri De Col, of Fretor in Pieve d'Alpago, and from Innovation Factory who will help me with the industrial development of my work. Last but not least, a crucial contribution came from Patrizia Ghedin, who was the first person to believe in my project and ideas". Fulvio, a tenacious, determined man with an infectious smile and lots of energy concludes "Now I'm seeing what I dreamed of in my hospital bed coming to fruition. I'm doing everything I used to do before the illness ".