With the right specialist cycle or adaptation, cycling is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. Here are some solutions to common issues.
Bikes enhance our mobility. That’s just as true if you have a disability as if you’re able-bodied, probably more so. While many off-the-peg bikes won’t be suitable, in some cases all that’s needed is a particular component or adaptation. Other disabilities are better catered for by a specialist cycle. Exactly what you’ll need will depend on you and your disability. Consult an inclusive cycling specialist such as Wheels for All or Get Cycling for more details.
There’s no minimum vision standard required to ride a bike, unlike driving. For safety’s sake, you must be able to stop within the distance you can see. Choose a bike that won’t be troubled by an unnoticed pothole, such as mountain bike or hybrid with stable steering and wide tyres. If you can’t see well enough to ride by yourself, you can still ride a tandem with a sighted companion.
Fit a rearview mirror to each side of the handlebar. They’re available for flat and drop handlebars. Some, like CatEye’s BM-45 pictured, will fit either. The Garmin Varia is a rearview radar for bikes that provides a visual warning of traffic approaching from behind.
Whatever the cause, the solution is a tricycle. Good quality upright trikes start at around £800. They’re not all ‘shoppers’. There are folders, racers, recumbents, fat trikes with off-road tyres, and electrically-assisted models.
This might be caused by motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or a stroke. If cycling independently is an option, a semi-recumbent tricycle with a supportive seat and electric assistance like VanRaam’s Easy Rider is a good solution.
Short arms/no arms
No need to look for a custom model: you can configure a Hase Bikes Kettwiesel to suit. The Kettwiesel is a semi-recumbent trike available with an extra long handlebar for those with hands, and with shoulder steering for those without. You can also specify: a knee brake; a coaster brake operated by pedalling backwards; electronic gear shifting, using buttons; and automatic gear shifting.
Use of one arm
On a bike, cycling one-handed is easier in a fairly upright position and with stable steering. You can add a steering damper to make control easier. A recumbent tricycle with two wheels at the front is an excellent solution for one-handed cycling too. Whichever option you choose, brake and gear controls need to go on the same side of the handlebar. There are dual brake levers that operate two brakes simultaneously, and also single-unit brakes with independent twin levers such as Hope’s Tech 3 Duo. For the drivetrain, a hub gear such as the Shimano Alfine 11 or Rohloff Speedhub works well, as does a wide-range 1x setup.
Use of one hand
As above, except you may be able to rest your weak/damaged/prosthetic hand on the handlebar for steering, so can likely do without the steering damper.
There is an option to be mobile: the Boma 7.5 All Terrain is a battery-powered quadricycle that can be specified with head and chin control (rather than the hand controls pictured).
The solution is a handcycle, a recumbent or semi-recumbent trike that you ‘pedal’ with your hands. You can get a dedicated handcycle or a clip-on for your wheelchair. Electric assistance is useful for hills and for starting from a dead stop.
One leg, no prosthesis
Pedalling a normal bike is possible with one leg, although you’ll want a clip-in pedal or a toe-clip so that you can pull the crank all the way around. A fixed-wheel makes this easier but is only really suitable for the flat; you want lower gears when you’re pedalling with one leg. Getting on and off a bicycle with top tube is awkward with one leg. It’s easier if the bike has a low step-over, like a so-called women’s bike or a small-wheeled bike such as a Brompton. A dropper seatpost makes mounting/dismounting easier.
Pedalling is quite feasible with a prosthetic leg, particularly if it’s below the knee. Clip-in pedals will keep your cycle-shoed prosthetic foot connected to the bike, but you’ll need to get used to putting your good foot down first; leave the tension springs looser on that pedal. If you have two prosthetic legs, a trike is a better solution – especially a recumbent one.
Limited leg mobility
If you can’t get your leg over a top tube easily, choose a bike without one – either a step-through or a bike with small wheels. A dropper seatpost makes mounting/dismounting easier. If the problem is that one or both knees don’t bend enough, you need to be able to pedal with less leg bend. That’s achievable with swing cranks or shorter cranks.
Being unable to cycle independently doesn’t mean being unable to enjoy cycling. Wheelchair bikes allow a wheelchair passenger to join an able-bodied cyclist for a ride.
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