Finding an accessible bicycle for a child with special needs can take a little extra research. It can be tough to find bikes for children with disabilities at the local Walmart, but there are several options online. Before you decide, consider things like:
Hand propulsion: People who are unable to pedal a bicycle may need to power a bike with their hands.
Power assistance: Power assistance might be necessary for people lacking muscle control in their hands, arms and legs.
Wheelchair bikes: Individuals with disabilities affecting the lower extremities might require a wheelchair bike.
Problems with steering and braking: Children with certain disabilities might need an adult to operate the brakes and steering. Tandem bikes might be a good choice.
Here are some great companies that sell accessible bikes for kids with special needs, whether they’re toddlers or teenagers.
Freedom Concepts, Inc: This company has been designing bikes for over 25 years and caters to individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and visual impairments. Freedom Concepts designs bikes for everyone from young children (the Discovery line of bikes is a good place to start) to teens (the company’s Adventurer bikes are for people age 14 and up). The company even designs a line of tandems (two-rider bicycles), as well as a full range of accessible biking accessories.
Van Raam: This Dutch company has been in business since the early 1900s. But for the last few decades, the Van Raam company has specialized in creating bikes for “anyone who has problems with a standard bicycle,” according to the company’s website. Van Raam manufactures adult tricycles, wheelchair bikes, conventional tandems and side-by-side tandems. Their low-step bikes helps people mount their bicycles easier, and the Walking Aid “relieves the legs by supporting the costumer’s weight on the saddle.” Van Raam also manufacturers an electric scooter-bike. Customers can also custom-order a bike using the Van Raam configuration model to add accessories and modifications of their choice.
Quest 88: This company began manufacturing tricycles for children with cerebral palsy in 1989. Since then, Quest 88 has blossomed into a company that specializes in adaptive cycling for both children and adults. The company manufactures a large selection of bikes, including recumbent tricycles, tandems, handbikes and adaptive accessories. Quest 88’s founder is a Senior Orthotist.
Buddy Bike: The Buddy Bike is a tandem bicycle for children with special needs and their families. The Buddy Bike provides “safe family fun and therapeutic activity for cyclists with special needs… autism, Down Syndrome, sight impairment and other disabilities.” A comprehensive list of bike shops and organizations that offer the Buddy Bike can be found on its website.
Worksman Cycles: This company prides itself on offering affordable products, stating it “refuses to charge outrageous prices simply because the cycles are ‘specialty’ products.” It sells a hand-propelled recumbent tricycle for young cyclists with mobility issues in their legs, and the MICAH Special Needs Tricycle gives steering and braking controls to a caregiver in the rear seat. Worksman Cycles also designs several different tricycles for children and teens with balance issues.
Don’t let your child’s special needs stop them from enjoying the physical and mental benefits of a good bike ride. If you want to learn more about accessible cycling, check out Disabled Sports USA, where you’ll find everything from where to buy a bike to cycling leagues and related events.