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Guest blog: A guide to cycling with special needs

Written by Fiona December 17 2013

My guest blogger Tom looks at the options for cyclists who have special needs. He writes: “Cycling is taken for granted as a cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly form of travel. There are hundreds of different bike brands and styles to choose from and in the end it comes down to personal preference and where you will cycle. For people with special needs, there are less choices, but the bikes that are available are inventive. Here we take a look at a few options.

Bikes for cyclists with special needs

Adapted Bicycles

If you suffer from aches and pains, it might not be life-altering, but it can certainly make cycling difficult. There are a number of different ways that a normal bike can be adapted to help you out.

Back problems can be eased by a more upright position; think about a longer stem, or a wider saddle. Aching wrists can be helped by using curved handlebars. Bad knees can be aided with either crank shorteners or pendulum pedals.

Also, if you feel like you might not be able to pedal for long distances without tiring, you should think about adding an electric-assist kit to your bike. Check out Electro-Drive for further details.


With training, you can get some serious speed on a handcycle. These are best used if you are missing lower limbs or can otherwise not use your legs. They come in three main types – wheelchair clip-ons (which are perfect for versatility), the Kettwiesel, which has a posture in between that of a wheelchair and that of a racing handcycle and the racer, which has a long wheel base and sits low to the ground.

Go Karts

Go karts for the disabled come in all shapes and sizes, and provide a much-needed shot of fun into getting around. Offering a unique blend of mobility and excitement, they’re a great option for anyone.

They’re good stress-busters and require very little maintenance.  They look cool and are easy to pedal. Also, they come in many forms – three wheels, four wheels, one seat, two seats, and even four-seater models! 




Trikes have three wheels, so they’re great for someone with balance issues. This has a second advantage – you can go as slow as you like without worrying about falling off. Upright trikes are incredibly popular, whether you have balance problems or not.

If you’re looking into getting a tricycle, you may want to think about investing in a recumbent bike. These are easy to pedal, and the laid-back seating position not only looks cool but it takes a lot of pressure off of your wrists and back.

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