Riding Your Bike:
a Pastime for Every Child
- Find Out Why Bicycling Is a Wonderful Pastime for Kids of All Ability Levels
- Learn How to Choose the Bike That Will Accommodate Your Child’s Needs
- Consider the Details: Head Control, Age, Strength and More
- Get Great Gift Ideas for Kids Who Need Extra Support When Biking
- Read That There Is Help Available to Make Choosing the Right Bike Easier
We've all heard the expression "It's as easy as riding a bike." But the idea of a special needs child steering, balancing and pedaling a bike can seem out of reach for some; especially when he or she may be unable to walk unaided or hold his head up without support. The good news is that now, more than ever, riding a bike is inclusive, and even easy, for children and adults with special needs and challenges.
If you or someone you know hasn't enjoyed
the fun and freedom of cycling in the great outdoors because of a
disability, read on to learn how technology has advanced the application
of bicycles to the point where everybody can cycle. Regardless of
ability, there is a bike out there that you or your child can ride;
there's even a bike that you can ride together.
You may be asking yourself:
For starters, riding a bike is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air of warm days, as well as the sensory experiences of wind in the face and freedom of movement. For all children, biking boosts feelings of confidence, self-esteem and independence. Biking alongside friends and family makes for a wonderful social outing. And let's not forget that pedaling a bicycle with your hands or feet helps children gain mobility, balance and fitness abilities. The simplest answer to the question of why we bike is that biking empowers us to feel strong and happy.
To find the right bike for your child, contact us at YellowBrickRoadShop.com and speak with our knowledgeable team of customer service representatives. Or start your search by asking yourself the following simple questions:
Does my child possess strong head and trunk control?
If your answer is no, then you should consider purchasing a bike with back- and headrests, seat belts or safety harnesses, as well as external adult control options such as steering and pedaling.
One of the most supportive bikes on the market is the Duet Cycle, which features a wheelchair attached to a bicycle for maximum accommodation. Allow your child to experience cycling first hand as an upfront passenger, while a responsible adult powers and steers this bike from behind. While the wheelchair rider may not be pedaling per se, he will still feel the wind as the bike moves, and gain a sense of social inclusion by getting to participate in this great pastime.
Another option for kids needing maximum support is the Bike Trailer. An affordable accessory, this trailer attaches to any bike and allows adults to pull a child weighing up to 75 lbs. along for a relaxing ride. Featuring a 3-point safety harness with chest buckle and an adjustable seat, the trailer also allows children to participate in the fun by pedaling too.
The Discovery and
The Adventurer 2000 tricycles were designed for children and adolescents with challenges ranging from simple balance difficulty to Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. Easily portable, these tricycles support the neck and trunk of the rider while allowing a responsible adult to help steer and power them from a walking position at the rear.
While these options position adults in front of or behind a disabled rider for supervision and support, a socializing alternative is available with the
Side-by-Side tricycle, in two speeds or with electrical assist. While
strong neck support is necessary to ride the Side-by-Side, disabled riders
have the option of pedaling or relaxing while sitting next to a responsible
companion rider. With independently adjustable seats and optional accessories
such as the
Surrey Canopy and Safety Seat Belt, Side-by-Side is a great way
to engage a disabled child in the social aspect of adventuring outdoors on
smooth terrain. Not only do riders get to take in the sights together, but
they can easily hold pleasant conversation when seated beside one another.
Is my child old enough to start riding a bike?
After the first six months of infancy, it's never too early to learn the basics of cycling. But not all children are able to mount a bicycle seat or balance without assistance, somewhat hindering their feeling of independence. That's why there are beginner and learning ride ons that enable children to learn to ride bikes from a very early age.
If you have a young child who is just starting out, consider purchasing an easy-to-mount learning bike, or even working with a stroller than converts to a tricycle over time. For instance, the Smart Trike Recliner offers maximum cost-efficiency by serving as a stroller for children ages 6 months to 2 years, as a handled tricycle for beginning riders, and finally as an independent tricycle. The benefit of the Smart Trike for its rider is that he learns to identify the stroller and tricycle as his own, and parents can gradually adjust the amount of control they exercise over the tricycle while increasing their child's independence.
Another learning bicycle is the Quadrabyke for ages 3 to 6. Convertible from a four wheeler bike to a tricycle and then to your child's first two wheeler, Quadrabyke features highly efficient band brakes and wide wheels for extra stability. For children needing a little help developing their balance skills, the Wooden Training Bike is minus pedals allowing for riders to simply focus on their seated equilibrium. This bike accommodates beginning riders weighing up to 80 lbs.
The Little Ram tricycle features "no step" mounting, adjustable handlebars and slip-resistant pedals for that rider looking to graduate to full yet safe independence. It comes in three sizes and offers safety accessories like Upper Trunk Support, Lower-Back Belt, Hand/Wrist Straps and Lateral Supports.
Is my child strong enough to mount a bike and propel himself forward?
Many of the adult-assisted bikes already mentioned are perfect for children lacking strength or endurance. But this can hinder a child's feeling of independence. That's why there are multiple bikes on the market with low to the ground frames and bars as well as electrical assistance that empower children to cycle independently. As described, the Duet Cycle, Side-by-Side and Bike Trailer make for excellent cycling accommodations when riders need to relax as passive passengers. Read on for alternatives to adult-assisted cycling.
If your child possesses minimal leg strength or mobility, consider purchasing a Hand-Driven Mobility Trike. Hand cycling has become an increasingly popular sport with paraplegic athletes in recent years, and there's no reason not to start building upper body strength at a young age when this tricycle offers many safety supports. Turning stop motion helps prevent tipping, and seat with full buttock/back supports and seat belt are easily adjustable for maximum positioning accommodation. The Hand/Foot-Driven Trike allows for passive or active leg exercise by enabling the rider to pedal with hands, feet or both through synchronized hand/foot operation.
The Electric Port-o-Trike, for adolescent and adult riders weighing up to 215 lbs., includes a hand and coaster brake, backrest, seat belt, and weighted pedals as well as a power system that enables riders to engage the motor with a thumb throttle.
Not looking for hand or electrical assistance? Consider building your child's stamina on the Port-o-Trike or the Developmental Youth Trike with low centers of gravity for easy on and off, adjustable seats and rear baskets. In both cases, the frame folds in half for easy transport, making these the perfect adapted bikes for going along on family car trips. For the wheelchair-bound rider possessing moderate leg mobility, the Low Rider Recumbent Trike, with seat a mere 18 3/4 inches off the ground, offers easy transfer from wheelchairs and positions riders in a legs-elongated position for reduced back strain. The affordable Just 4 Me Trike is another low to the ground tricycle that's fully adjustable, and it accommodates riders up to 198 lbs. For added fun, the Just 4 Me comes with stickers allowing creative riders to colorfully customize their very own adapted, yet enabling, ride on.
Today's selection of bicycles can accommodate any rider including those with spinal injuries, physical difficulties and cognitive challenges. In addition to finding an adapted bike to suit a disabled child, there are a myriad of accessories available to augment an off-the-shelf bike, such as the extra-wide comfort seat, youth helmet and more.
Don't become overwhelmed by abundant options when trying to find the right bike or accessory. YellowBrickRoadShop.com can provide you with the information you need to easily and successfully get your child cycling right away. Call us at 800.265.6900 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
Have fun out there, bicyclers! And remember to wear your helmets!