Cycling is not made more difficult by being in a wheelchair. All you need is the appropriate tool, which is a hand cycle for disabled. Those who need wheelchairs and have strong upper bodies can also participate, making it a very inclusive activity.

It is advisable to speak with your therapist or doctor about the best type of handcycle for you before making a decision. Choose a bike that you can pedal without pushing yourself or getting hurt, but that still gives enough resistance to give you a workout.

What is hand cycle? How does hand cycle work?

 A hand cycle is a type of human-powered land vehicle, which is powered by the arms rather than the legs as in a bicycle. The majority of handcycles have a tricycle shape with one steerable motorized front wheel and two coasting rear wheels. They are also known as handbikes even though they typically have three wheels.

Legally, a handcycle counts as a pedal cycle. Anywhere a pedal cycle is allowed, including on roads, cycle paths, and rights of way like bridleways is acceptable. It must have functional brakes, although there are distinct requirements for tricycles and bicycles whose seats cannot be lifted over 635 millimeters above the ground. It must have lights and reflectors if used at night.

Unlike a wheelchair, a handcycle is not officially recognized as mobility assistance. It has pedals so this means that you are not permitted to ride it on the pavement.

The cost of hand cycle for disabled is higher than that of regular bicycles. They are produced in smaller quantities by smaller businesses and are more complex.

Hand cycle for disabled
Hand cycle for disabled people.Source: RAD Innovation

Two common styles in handcycle

Delta trike style

The delta trike, which has one wheel up front and two in back, is the most popular design. Due to its simplicity and usage of a shorter chain, the front wheel is frequently the driving wheel. Better traction is provided, particularly uphill, by driving the rear wheels via a differential at the back axle so they can rotate at various rates when cornering.

You can construct a delta trike as a standalone vehicle or as a “clip-on” for a rigid-framed wheelchair. The cycle component—a chain-driven, steerable front wheel, brakes, and hand cranks—is provided by the clip-on component. The wheelchair’s seat and wheels are now in the back. Decoupling allows you to use your regular chair instead of a foldable wheelchair, which is convenient for commuting or going shopping.

Source: Bike On

Tadpole trike style

The tadpole trike is a different type of tricycle that has one drive wheel at the back and two wheels up front. Off-road handcycles use this more frequently since it offers more stability. Some have a semi-prone, leaning-forward position, a bucket seat, legs tucked to the back, and padded support for the chest. These are made for more challenging off-road conditions.

Source: RAD Innovation

Types of hand cycles for disabled

For people of all abilities, there are many distinct types of recreational handcycles. These handcycles are not the same as competitive handcycles and are intended for beginners. Various handcycle types include:

The various riding techniques take into account the rider’s skill level, the bike’s purpose, and additional elements like aerodynamics. 

Upright Handcycles

The delta-style trikes are known as upright handcycles. They allow for a simple wheelchair transition on a level surface. As the feet are placed behind the front tire, these motorcycles have very small turning radii and are quite agile. For shorter trips and rides around the neighborhood, this bike is excellent.

Upright hand cycle for disabled. Source: New Mobility

Recumbent Handcycles

There are two types of recumbent handcycles: delta and tadpole, with delta being more popular. These bikes generally provide significantly more stability and performance possibilities. Longer rides and more stable handling at greater speeds are made possible by improved body positioning made possible by aerodynamics and the placement of the crank. However, because these bikes are not stable, caution should be exercised when making sharp turns at high speeds.

Source: New Mobility

Handcycle wheelchair attachment

Wheelchair accessories that attach to handcycles are also available. This can be an excellent alternative for someone who would rather remain seated than using a handcycle specifically designed for that purpose or for someone unable to transfer. Additionally, this choice is portable and considerably smaller. 

Many riders will employ these add-ons in congested areas or in situations where a standard handcycle might not be permitted. Additionally, it is cheaper to start cycling this way. This kind of bike, however, is not intended for long journeys and has limited utility. 

The attachment-style bike is also available in models that support the use of an electric motor. The footrest down-tubes are where the handcycle is attached. Installing it can be challenging, but once

Source: New Mobility

Off-Road Handcycles

Off-road handcycles can be modified in a variety of ways, such as by moving the brake and shift levers to account for grip strength issues, arm or hand amputations, or other limitations. These handcycles can also make use of the adjustable grips and pedals mentioned above. Make sure the rider can use the braking system properly while modifying the pedals or grips. 

One of the crank pedals may have a braking mechanism built into some custom pedals and grips. There are three types of off-road handcycles: delta-style, tadpole upright (also known as recumbent upright), and tadpole prone.

Source: Reactive Adaption

Benefits of hand cycle for disabled

Wheelchair users may find it challenging to exercise in the conventional sense. They may have health problems, put on weight, and become depressed as a result of this. But all of that can be helped by hand-cycling for the disabled. Exercise delivered by hand-cycling releases endorphins into the body in addition to burning calories. They aid in the fight against depression. The secret to having a healthy body and mind is to stay active.

Additionally, handcycling is an outside activity. The sun’s rays absorb vitamin D, which supports mood regulation. Additionally, handcycling can be done in a group. Similar to many cyclists, handcyclists may discover communities to travel in. They might also like riding bicycles alongside their family, partner, or friends.

As was already said, handcycling promotes a person’s independence by allowing them the ability to travel and spend more time outside. Even though pulling a wheelchair is more difficult, many people still prefer handcycling because, once you get going on one, the gears help to ensure a smooth ride.

Find out more: 9 best outdoor activities for disabled adults.

How to ride a hand cycle for disabled

If you can normally transfer freely, you should eventually be able to get on a handcycle on your own. You might need assistance the first few times. The following are the steps to getting on a handcycle:

How to ride a hand cycle for disabled. Source: PA Centre for Adapted Sport

Safety and equipment: hand cycle for disabled

You should always use particular caution when riding any type of bicycle. Here are some pointers for maintaining safety:


Thanks to these benefits, cycling is a particularly good activity for people with disabilities. Hope you guys find out everything you need to know about hand cycle for disabled.