In recent years, there are more options than ever for cyclists with disabilities and disabled cyclists who want to ride in “companionship”. This article will guide you in understanding the world of adaptive bikes, from adult trikes to motor-assisted recumbents. Additionally, it describes how to find funding for a free adaptive bike and safety equipment when riding the adaptive bike.

What is adaptive bike for special needs? What are bikes for disabled people called?

The easy answer for What is adaptive bike for special needs is that a bike help rider cycle easier, regardless of their disabilities. Also, an adaptive bike for special needs involves modifications to an existing two-wheel cycle or a need-specific bike or trike.

The best adaptive bike for special needs will primarily rely on your primary demand. A tandem, for instance, would be ideal for someone with vision impairment, whereas someone with balance concerns might find it difficult.

Similar to the above, a rider with lower body spinal cord damage would not be able to use a regular recumbent bike but could be able to benefit from a handcycle. Another reason people might wish to bike together is for cognitive or physical reasons.

adaptive bike for special needs
Adaptive bike for special needs. Source: Clarksvillenow

Benefits of adaptive bike for special needs

Many persons with disabilities may believe they can’t ride a bike or have few opportunities to exercise because of actual and perceived societal limitations, especially when participating in adventurous activities. Lack of opportunity can cause isolation, as well as various problems with both mental and physical health. Let’s explore the advantages of adaptive cycling for disabled adults.

Focus and discipline

Taking up something difficult or novel provides a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn. And if you have to learn how to ride a bike again, you’ll develop some valuable abilities along the road, most notably perseverance.

Learning new abilities may be extremely motivating and gratifying. Cycling may be a calming and soothing activity once you’ve gotten the hang of your preferred bike.

Why not learn more about orienteering with a disability if you want to expand on your new outdoor skills? Another activity that will help you improve your focus and appreciation of nature is this one.

A lot of benefits of adaptive bikes for special needs people. Source: Friendship Circle

Promoting physical well-being

There are several physical advantages to cycling since it motivates you to get up and move, including:

Supporting Mental Health 

In addition to the physical advantages, cycling can provide a wide range of mental advantages, such as:

Social connection

People who frequently feel alone might meet new, like-minded people and widen their social horizons by joining a bike club or visiting an accessible activity center. Using tandem or wheelchair bikes enables riders to collaborate and forge connections, making biking a more social activity.

When done with a family member, caretaker, or friend, cycling can be even more fun because you’ll share the physical labor while also fostering social relationships, teamwork, and trust.

Types of adaptive bikes for special needs 

Adaptive cycles come in a wide variety of designs since riders have a range of abilities.

Handcycles: Riders with movement issues in their lower limbs frequently use handcycles. They enable riders to move a three-wheeled bicycle forward by using their arms. Check out the article 101 Guides to handcycles for disabled people: Everything you need to know

Recumbent handcycle: The handcycle is raised off the ground by a recumbent model. Someone with less mobility would use it since it is simpler to transfer to. There are also handcycles that are more effective for competitive cycling and are much lower to the ground.

Source: Freedom Concepts

Tandem bikes: There are many other tandem bike configurations available, but the most popular is a two-wheeled cycle with a guide in the front. Two persons can ride a tandem tricycle side by side at the same time or at various speeds.

Source: Vanraam

Four-wheeled dual recumbents: For lower-extremity cycling, four-wheeled dual recumbents are the most comfortable since they keep riders seated and at ease.

Source: Input Mag

Three-wheeled recumbent: Three-wheeled recumbent cycles have a lower center of balance since they are closer to the ground.

Source: Icetrikes

Recumbent foot cycle: A recumbent foot cycle has one wheel in the rear and two in the front, similar to a tadpole. For balancing, the tadpole style is preferable. There are also delta-style recumbent foot cycles, which have two wheels in the rear and one in the front.

Source: RAD Innovation

E-bikes: usually referred to as electric bikes, are relatively new to the riding world.  For riders who would rather reduce the amount of pedaling required, an e-bike provides a motor-assisted ride that is fantastic. Additionally, powered cycles enable riders of all skill levels to log longer distances.

Source: Vanraam

How much does an adaptive bike cost?

The price of an adaptive bike varies based on the type of bike and the level of customization. Typically, the cost of an adaptive bike ranges from $100 to $5,000. The idea of purchasing an adaptive bike can occasionally appear difficult due to high prices.

There are various possibilities to think about if you need financial support for an adaptive bike, let’s dive in.

How to get free adaptive bikes? Finding funds for adaptive bikes

Medical Waiver Programs 

Waiver programs can be used to acquire an adaptive bicycle. The coverage and procedures for obtaining waiver funding vary by state. Before covering using waiver money, some states want the main insurer’s denial first, while others demand a doctor’s prescription with a therapist’s letter of medical necessity and evaluation for the equipment.

Many families have had success using a variety of medical waivers and working with their county’s department of health & human services, department of developmental disabilities, or other similar departments.

Charitable organizations and grants

Look for regional organizations that assist people with special needs. Start your search locally because most of the organizations that have received financing operate on a county level. Look for regional or state affiliates of well-known organizations like Easter Seals, Variety Club, and Make-a-Wish.

Charitable organizations might also provide financial support. Find chapters near you by using the links.

Numerous grants are available from groups that concentrate on assisting kids with impairments. These groups might offer grants or other forms of financial support for adaptive bikes. Check out for more at friendshipcircle.org

Fundraising in your neighborhood

Organizing a fundraiser or benefit for a child is a wonderful approach to enlist the assistance of the community. Make it your mission to raise the money required for the bike, shipment, assembly, and possibly even a helmet. Use letters, local media, fundraising events, and local television or radio to connect with your community.

Safety and equipment when riding adaptive bike for special needs

Safety Flags

Handcycles and trikes are typically low to the ground, like many other adaptive motorcycles. Use safety flags when riding on the road or in parking lots.

These bikes pose a particular risk in parking lots when automobiles are turning into or out of spots since they are lower than the majority of car windows.

Source: Getty Images

Helmets

Although this is obviously important for safety, some riders feel that they don’t need one because of the kind of riding they do or because they don’t like the way it looks. Although you’re lower to the ground with a three-wheel, accidents may happen, so you should always keep your head covered!

Leg Guards

People who ride handcycles frequently have a degree of paralysis or only partial sensation in their legs. For recumbent design bikes, leg guards are an effective preventative step to keep the legs away from the front tire during turning. This can shield the skin from severe burns caused by tire friction.

Padding

For these riders who have limited sensibility, you also want to make sure that there are no other places where their legs or hips are coming into touch with metal or moving parts, producing pressure below their threshold of feeling. To reduce the risk of developing a pressure sore, any contact points should be cushioned or a different bike should be sought out. As body parts may move while riding, it typically works better to pad the person than the bike. Body armor and pads for mountain biking, soccer, and hockey are excellent choices for safeguarding a client’s body while cycling, and they are frequently available secondhand at thrift shops.

Additional Safety Concerns

Any method of tying a person to the bike, including safety belts, click straps, ankle straps, taped feet or hands, can have safety repercussions. All of these alternatives are frequently employed to aid in maintaining a person’s position in a chair, to prevent a person’s legs from bouncing off a footrest, or to offer additional support. If the rider requires or wants this level of security, they should be used. Leave off these restrictions if the rider is not in need of them.

Conclusion

Adaptive bikes for special needs come in diverse sizes and forms and are made to accommodate certain specific mobility requirements. We’ve provided a definition of adaptive bikes, several examples of the most popular types, and information on how to obtain a free adaptive bike for disabled adults.