Adaptive Bikes

” Learning to ride a bike is such an important rite of passage and delightful means of independence.”

So says the author of and I could not  say it any better myself.  Doing research for a bike for Little Ding, we’ve learned a thing or two about adaptive bikes. Here are some of the adaptive bikes and trikes that I’ve come across that are available for both kids and adults.

Standard Kid’s Bike with Adaptive Elements

Standard kids bikes can be adapted with larger pneumatic ‘training wheels’ , larger seats, and even pedals weighted to always remain flat. The folks at the The Bike Rack/Project Mobility told us that they can adapt a kid’s bike with wheels as larger as 24-inches – larger than that and the center of gravity is too high – time to go to some sort of tricycle.  See the photo below or see this post for a few more pictures of the adaptations to Little Ding’s first real bike – we had it customized so he could move from riding in the Burley to riding a bike.  While we got the wheels and brackets at The Bike Rack, this website –Fat Wheels – also sells the pneumatic ‘fat’ style training wheels and brackets like the ones we added to Little Ding’s 1st adaptive bike. They sell versions that can be added to kids bikes as well as adult bikes. (Scroll down the page to the info on conversion kits to see what the most recent changes we’ve made to his bike (summer,2012).

Walk Bikes

Similar to the balance bikes that are popular now for toddlers, these bikes are pedal-less bikes that allow riders to sit on the bike and propel themselves with their feet. These bikes are available for kids and adults, and come in BMX or hybrid styles.  A local manufacturer has started making and selling these bikes. Check out JoRide Bicycles for more information.

Conversion Kits

There are conversion kits  that can turn a standard kids bike into a 3-wheel tricycle. There are a few sites out there that sell the parts, like  We ended up ordering a trike converstion kit from them, had them ship it to the great guys at Comrade Cycles, dropped off Little Ding’s bike, and they took off his old Fat Wheels and added the conversion kit, and it’s a totally new, and very rad trike.

Kidical Mass Ride

First Kidical Mass ride on the new configuration.

Upright Adaptive Trikes

These types of bikes generally can be customized with different seat backs, seat belts, special handlebars, etc. Here’s a post I wrote about a couple of trikes made by Freedom Concepts,  here’s a review of one of the Rifton trikes, and here’s a few photos and info about the AmTryke.

Rifton Adaptive Trike

Rifton Adaptive Trike

Tandem Bikes (2 and 3-wheel)

There are a variety of tandem bikes out there with a variety of configurations for two adults, adult and child, a standard rider combined with a recumbent rider, or a standard rider with an adaptive rider.

  • Buddy Bike is one style that puts a child or younger rider in front on standard upright bike.
  • Bilenky Bikes makes a custom tandem (called the Viewpoints) that has a regular upright rider in the back and a recumbent rider in front.
  • Freedom Concepts makes a very sturdy tandem trike which puts the driver in back, but allows for an adult in front.  The front seat is adjustable and comes with a seat-belt if needed, as well as adjustable positioning for the feet to accommodate a wide variety of riders.
  • Lightfoot Cycles makes a Tandem Trailer which allows a standard cyclist to pull a recumbent rider behind them and the recumbent rider can pedal
  • Van Raam makes one tandem called the O-Pair 2 that pairs a standard upright bicycle in back with a ‘spring-loaded’ wheelchair in front that can be detached from the bike. They have another tandem called the Velo Plus 2 that combines a standard upright bike in the back to a platform in the front, for riders who want to use their own wheelchair. Both tandems can be equipped with electric or gas-powered motors.
Van Raam O-Pair 2

Van Raam O-Pair 2


Yes, really! A side-by-side Recumbent!

  • Blackbird designs makes the bike you see below, which can be customized with a storage platform, and electric motor. Blackbird also sell a conversion kit so you ca combine your own two recumbent bikes and un-combine them when you want to ride solo.
  • Just Two Bikes also makes a side-by-side recumbent – called the Social – and a tricumbent – or 3-wheeled recumbent bike.
Blackbird Quadripent Side-by-Side Recumbent Bike

Blackbird Quadripent Side-by-Side Recumbent Bike

Upright Recumbents

There are also some bike makers who have built bikes that resemble recumbent-bikes with their full seat backs and low step-over, but still are higher up off the ground than traditional low-to-the-ground recumbent bikes.  I call these types of bike “Upright Recumbents” because they look like recumbent bikes, but are not so low to the ground.

  • Versa Trike – The Versa Trike folds up, and has full upright handlebars in front of the bike similar to those on traditional bikes.
  • TerraTrike makes a recumbent they call The Rover that is also higher up off the ground (they compare it to an office chair) ,with a fully adjustable seat and frame, disc brakes, and can be loaded onto standard bike carriers. It’s also pretty affordable.
  • Sun also makes both an upright two-wheels-in-the-back sort of trike, like the Versa, as well as the more standard lower-to-the ground model with two-wheels in the back.  Here’s my review of both Sun bikes.

Versa Trike

Traditional Recumbent Trikes

These are similar to the two-wheel recumbent bikes you often see around town.

  • Hasebikes makes trikes like you see here, down low, with steering on the sides, and the two wheels in back.
  • Sun, as mentioned above , makes their lower-to-the-ground models in both styles-a  two wheels in front as well as two wheels in back.
  • Lightfoot Cycles makes a variety of recumbent trikes
HASE Trix Adaptive Recumbent Bike

HASE Trix Adaptive Recumbent Bike

I’m sure there are a few other great bikes that I’ve neglected to mention on this page. If you make or sell a great adaptive bike that’ s not listed here, drop me a line at and I’ll add you to our list!