Welcome to Bicycle Colorado’s adaptive riding page! We’re excited to share resources to help you, your family or a friend get riding, or to help you be a more informed and courteous cycling peer. We hope you’ll reach out with any feedback, suggestions or questions by emailing us at info@bicyclecolorado.org.

 

On this page, we provide links to resources and opportunities for riders with disabilities and injuries, as well as older adults who want to learn about modifying how they ride. This page also serves as a resource for people who want to support other cyclists with different riding experiences.

 

A special thank you to our partners at Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) for their sponsorship to support the development of this resource and other equity initiatives at Bicycle Colorado.

 

Page contents:

Types and retailers of adaptive equipment

People with physical, learning, psychiatric, neurological and/or sensory disabilities or injuries, and/or whose bodies are changing with age, sometimes modify the traditional two-wheeled, leg-powered bicycling experience to meet their needs. Riders might modify two-wheeled upright bikes, ride adaptive devices like trikes or tandem bikes or ride with a partner who can help power or steer. They also might adapt their riding style so they can continue riding safely.

Adaptive bikes and modifications come in a huge variety. We couldn’t list every single adaptive bike here, since each individual has unique needs. However, there are general kinds and styles of equipment that are most common. This section goes over a few different kinds.

A group of people pose for the camera on a paved street with a building behind them. In the foreground is a person using an adaptive handcycle.

Above: Eduardo Aguirre rides a hand cycle at the Denver Century Ride.

Four people smile toward the camera. Two of them are sitting in wheelchair bikes, being piloted by two people standing behind them.

Above: Participants in the Cycling Without Age program and their wheelchair bike pilots.

Overall, bikes can be adapted with a variety of features that can be combined to provide the best use for any rider:

  • They can have two, three or four wheels. Three-wheeled devices are called trikes.
  • They can be recumbent, upright or prone.
  • They can be hand-powered, foot-powered, and/or electric powered. Many devices have e-assist options.
  • There are bikes for single riders, as well as tandem bikes and wheelchair bikes for people who want to experience a bike ride with a pilot pedaling from the back.
  • There are versions of adaptive bikes for general use or competition, and for road or pavement as well as off-road riding.

Additional modifications for bikes and trikes can include changes to the seating or braking, modified handlebars, modified pedals and much more. Work with a local bike fitter to talk about what would be best for you. The Organizations and Programs section also lists partners that adaptive riders may contact to ask for advice.

Types of adaptive devices and modifications

Recumbent

Recumbent bikes and trikes allow the rider’s back, neck and hips to be fully supported and resting against a full seat back and headrest.

Recumbent trikes, in particular, come in two standard forms: delta and tadpole. Both styles have full seats for riders who want more back support.

Delta trikes have one wheel in front and two wheels in the back.

A person rides a recumbent trike.
Source: Rad Innovations

Tadpole trikes have two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back.

A person riding a tadpole trike.
Source: Rad Innovations

Supine

Supine trikes are similar to recumbents, but the rider is lying almost flat on their back.

A person rides a supine trike on a paved trail with a pond in the background. We are seeing a profile shot of them from the right side.
Source: Top End

Upright

Upright bikes and trikes have seats similar to traditional two-wheeled bikes, without back support. The rider sits upright and unsupported.

Prone

Prone trikes allow the rider to lean forward and have their torsos supported from the front.

Quinn Brett rides a prone trike on a dirt trail. She is facing toward the horizon.
Photo: Quinn Brett rides her prone electric hand-powered trike.

Foot-powered

For those with leg function, many adaptive cycles can be powered by feet and legs, like traditional two-wheeled bikes.

Hand-powered

Handcycles are pedaled by a person’s hands and arms.

A person rides a handcycle trike on a paved trail.

Electric motor

Many bikes, trikes and other adaptive devices come with an electric motor, and can be e-assist or fully electric powered. These can be useful for people with muscle weakness or paralysis. Many older adults also find eBikes allow them to continue enjoying biking as their bodies change with age.

Motorized trike attachment

People who use wheelchairs can use a trike attachment that connects to the front of their chair and lifts up the front casters, allowing the wheelchair to be turned into a sort of electric motorized trike.

A person using a scooter attachment on their wheelchair rides to the left of the frame.
Source: New Mobility Magazine

Single rider

Many adaptive devices are for one rider to power and steer on their own. They may ride with other people or receive some other assistance, but their device itself is separate.

Tandem

There are versions of tandem bikes that look like traditional upright two-wheeled bikes with one person in front and another behind. There are also trike versions with recumbent seats, with electric power, hand-powered and more. There are even tandem bikes where one seat is traditional and upright, and the other is recumbent!

Two people ride a tandem bike on a paved road next to a field. Two people ride an adaptive tandem bike. The person in front is in a recumbent seat.
Photo left: Michael Stone, a cyclist with low vision, rides a tandem bike with a pilot in the front.
Photo right: Two people ride a tandem in which the front seat is recumbent. Credit Rad Innovations

Wheelchair bike

Wheelchair bikes provide an opportunity for people who ride wheelchairs to comfortably enjoy a bike ride with the support of a riding partner. An upright bike with one wheel in the back is attached at the front to a wheelchair seat with two wheels, or to a wheelchair ramp. One rider pedals and steers from an upright position behind the person who uses a wheelchair.

Two people riding a wheelchair bike. One person pedals upright in the back, and the person in front is sitting in a two-wheeled chair attached to it.
Source: Van Raam

Retailers of adaptive devices

Colorado retailers

Angletech Cycles: Specializes in recumbent trikes and bikes, crank forward bicycles and folding upright and recumbent bicycles. Located in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Multisport: Provides bike fittings for any person riding any kind of bike or trike. Located in Boulder.

Reactive Adaptations: Offers a select number of custom, handmade off-road recumbent trikes and hand cycles. Located in Crested Butte.

Three people pose for the camera with their bikes standing on a dirt patch. The person on the right is sitting in an off-road trike.

Photo credit: Allen Beauchamp

U.S. businesses outside of Colorado

All Ability Cycles: The first dealer of Van Raam products in the United States, with a variety of upright and recumbent foot-pedaled trikes as well as a number of wheelchair bikes. Their Facebook page provides a lot of images and details on their products and talks about adaptive cycling. Located in Iowa.

Freedom Concepts Inc.: Focuses on children and young adults as well as adaptive bikes for all ages. They offer a wide range of customized upright, recumbent and prone adaptive bikes and hand cycles. They don’t have a physical storefront but products can be ordered online.

Rad Innovations: They work with individuals of all abilities and ages to build and adapt custom inclusive cycling and mobility products. They offer a wide range of customized upright, recumbent and prone adaptive bikes and hand cycles, tandems and more. They are based in Vermont but do ship nationwide and internationally.

Did we miss you? Please let us know by emailing info@bicyclecolorado.org!

Organizations and programs in Colorado for adaptive riders

A group of people parked on adaptive trikes in a line front to back on a paved trail.

A group adaptive biking activity with the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program. Photo credit: Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program

Activities

Achilles International Pikes Peak Chapter: This organization brings people together and provides free, weekly training opportunities throughout the year. They pair athletes with disabilities with volunteer guides to train in an environment of support and community. Located in Colorado Springs. Achilles International has chapters around the country.

Adaptive Adventures: Provides ongoing programs, camps and clinics for a lot of different outdoor activities, including cycling. People can participate in one-day experiential programs, single-day community rides, multi-day clinics and challenge rides. They have a fleet of hand cycles, recumbent foot-pedaled trikes, tandems and traditional bikes, coupled with a variety of adaptive equipment to make modifications. Located in Lakewood, but with events online and around the country.

Adaptive Sports Association: This organization provides outdoor, sport and recreational experiences for people with disabilities. Join their bike riding programming in the summer, and take advantage of the scholarships they have available. Located in Durango.

Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte: Provides year-round outdoor adventure activities for people with disabilities. In the summer, join mountain and road biking activities using a variety of leg and arm powered adaptive cycles. And, check out the Adaptive Mountain Biking World Championships! They have many other activity options as well. Located in Crested Butte.

Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center: Provides year-round outdoor adventure activities for people with disabilities. Join their biking activities in the summer. Their programs include camps and retreats, custom group programs and veterans programs. They have many other activity options, too. Located in Breckenridge.

Challenge Aspen: This organization provides year-round adaptive experiences for individuals faced with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Join a summer camp, register for organized or custom groups and more. Activities include adaptive biking and many others. Located in Snowmass Village.

Colorado Discover Ability: This organization provides outdoor, sport and recreational experiences for people with disabilities. Alongside other activities, they offer a “Get Back on the Bike” cycling program with their fleet of adaptive bikes and trikes, and programming just for veterans, too. Located in Grand Junction.

Cycling Without Age: This program brings together volunteer “pilots” to give rides on trishaws to older adults with limited mobility. There are chapters in Colorado in the following cities: Boulder, Colorado Springs, Durango, Englewood, Glenwood Springs, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Poudre and Rifle.

Eyecycle Colorado: This organization offers organized tandem rides for blind and visually impaired bicyclists. They recruit and train sighted captains for the front seat of the tandem bike and pair them up with a blind or visually impaired stoker riding in the back seat. Located in Denver.

Move United: A network of organizations for disabled and injured athletes and people who want to recreate outdoors. The site provides a listing of local member organizations, an event calendar and resources about adaptive sports and equipment.

National Sports Center for the Disabled: This organization provides outdoor, sport and recreational experiences for people with disabilities. They offer custom group activities for at least five people that can include biking. They also have a number of military veterans programs. They have two locations, one in Denver and one in Winter Park.

Sportsabilities (Colorado): An online resource for people with disabilities to find recreational, advocacy, support and adaptive sporting activities. They have activities sorted by state and by type of activity.

Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports: This organization provides outdoor, sport and recreational experiences for people with disabilities. Their summer activities include adaptive mountain bike clinics, but they offer a lot of other activities as well. Located in Steamboat Springs.

Telluride Adaptive Sports Program: This organization offers a variety of year-around activities for all ages and ability levels. These activities include road and trail riding in and around Telluride in the summer, fat tire biking lessons in the winter and programming for active military and veterans with disabilities. They have many other types of activities, too. Located in Telluride.

National, state park and local adaptive programs and resources

  • Great Sand Dunes National Park has a limited number of sand wheelchairs available for loan at the visitor center. The “Accessibility” section of their website offers details on the chairs and how to reserve them.
  • Staunton State Park offers a Track-Chair Program. The chairs allow access to three trails, each featuring gorgeous park feature including high grassy meadows, a wide variety of wildlife, geological and water​​​ features.
  • Check out your community’s parks, trails or recreation department website to see if they have an adaptive recreation or therapeutic recreation program, or other resources for people with disabilities using the parks and trails. Below are some recreation departments Bicycle Colorado has worked with:

 

Did we miss you? Please let us know by emailing info@bicyclecolorado.org!

 

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Foundations and grant programs for funding to buy adaptive equipment

A person poses in a tadpole upright trike on red rock in front of a red canyon.

Quinn Brett rides her e-assist off-road handcycle. Photo credit: Quinn Brett

Craig Marketplace: This is an online site to look for resold adaptive equipment.

Challenged Athletes Foundation: This organization gives grants for adaptive sports equipment, hosts camps and clinics for adaptive athletes, has an Operation Rebound program for military and first responders and more.

High Fives Foundation: Offers grants to people who have experienced an SCI, TBI or life-changing injury while participating in outdoor sports, but they do have a grant opportunity for those who were injured in other settings as well.

Kelly Brush Foundation: This foundation offers grants to individuals with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury to buy adaptive sports equipment and collaborates with partner adaptive sports programs to help people with spinal cord injuries try, learn about and own adaptive sports equipment.

Triumph Foundation: This organization offers grants for people with spinal cord injury to get necessary adaptive equipment, make home modifications and maintain therapeutic activities.

Two Angels Foundation: This organization provides support for children with disabilities and their caregivers by helping families purchase adaptive bikes in Colorado.

 

Did we miss you? Please let us know by emailing info@bicyclecolorado.org!

 

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Getting around town

A person riding a handcycle rides toward the left of the frame. They are towing their wheelchair with bags on it behind them.

Topher Downham tows his wheelchair and bags with his handcycle. Photo credit: Topher Downham of City of Boulder OSMP

  • Know the ADA rules about Other Power Driven Mobility Devices – “State and local governments (Title II) and businesses (Title III places of public accommodations) must allow persons with mobility disabilities to use other power-driven mobility devices in their facilities unless a particular device cannot be accommodated because of legitimate safety requirements.”
  • If you are riding a lower-to-the-ground adaptive device, add a flag to make your profile more visible to other riders.
  • Ride with front and rear lights—go to Bicycle Colorado’s Rules of the Road page for more information on riding safely and legally

 

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Adaptive riding and recreation

Two people ride a tandem bike on a paved road next to a field.

Michael Stone, a low-vision bicyclist, rides a tandem bike with a partner.

  • If you are riding a lower-to-the-ground adaptive device, add a flag to make your profile more visible to other riders
  • Ride with front and rear lights—go to Bicycle Colorado’s Rules of the Road page for more information on riding safely and legally.

How to find accessible trails

  • COTREX, the Colorado Trail Explorer, is a free web and mobile application that allows you to discover public trails across Colorado. Select the “Wheelchair Friendly” option to filter for accessible trails. Additionally, note a trail’s “surface type”, which can be seen at the bottom of each trail page; to see if it is a surface suitable for you and your device.
  • The City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Accessible Trails and Sites PDF booklet offers information on where and how to find accessible trails in the area and what you can enjoy on those trails. This document is a PDF.

Accessible bike events in Colorado

Adaptive Mountain Biking World Championships: Hosted by the Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte, this event offers three days of riding and racing. Categories range from advanced to recreational. Takes place in Crested Butte.

Denver Century Ride: Ride any type of bike, trike, handcycle or tandem on one of four road routes in and around the city of Denver. Choose from a 25-, 50-, 85- or 100-mile route. Takes place in Denver.

Pedaling 4 Parkinson’s: Riders with Parkinson’s disease are encouraged to participate in the Tandem Bike Project, where they register as stokers who sit on the back of the tandem and get paired with a tandem bike captain. Single riders with PD who would like support but do not want to ride a tandem bike may choose to have a companion bicyclist ride along with them. Takes place in Lone Tree.

Pedal 4 Possible: A charity ride benefiting Craig Hospital patients and programs. P4P features courses for all skill levels (10K, 30K, 50K, 100K and 100 Mile). Around 400 cyclists participate, including inpatients at Craig, a rehabilitation and research center for people with brain and spinal cord injuries. Takes place near Louisville.

Note: Many rides will allow adaptive cyclists, but they may not have a designated category for “adaptive”. Cyclists can always reach out to the race/ride coordinator to see if their course is accessible and if they are allowing adaptive riders.

 

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Considerations for other riders and decision-makers

Not an adaptive bike rider, but want to be a more conscientious and courteous bicyclist or decision-maker?  Here’s what some of our friends in the disability community have shared:

People ride on a dirt trail. In the foreground is a person riding a recumbent trike. Further in the background there are more people riding recumbent trikes.

How to share paths and trails

  • Treat adaptive or disabled riders as equals who have the same right to use the trail as you.
  • Remember that other power-driven mobility devices can go places a regular bike is not allowed. These devices include power chairs and adaptive electric-assist devices.
  • Offer assistance if you feel a rider is struggling but don’t assume that they need it. Remember that some adaptive riders may take more time, particularly going up hills.
  • Be aware of others who may have a lower profile on their adaptive device.
  • Give plenty of warning when passing.

What decision-makers should consider

  • Ensure sidewalks are accessible by prohibiting obstructions, making them wide enough and constructing curb ramps at intersections and crossings.
  • Step up education for trail users, bike path users and motorists about navigating safely near adaptive and disabled riders.
  • Ensure large turn radii on trails so that three-wheeled and/or wider devices can make the turns.
  • Consider slope and cross-slope: make sure trails aren’t too steep or have too much of a side-slope that could cause bikes to go off trails.
  • Clearly mark directional trails.
  • Mark trails, roadways and bike facilities that are not accessible.
  • Ensure that trails are wide enough at gates for larger adaptive devices to make it through.
  • Communicate trail, sidewalk or road construction and closures ahead of time.
  • Ensure alternate routes for closures have suitable hard surfaces, with no dirt or mud.

For the bike industry

  • Make adaptive cycles and equipment more visible and available at shops, expos and events.
  • Learn about various adaptations that your customers or event participants may need or use.
  • Get trained on how to help people find correct equipment for their needs.
  • Advertise to agencies who work with or support non-typical riders to encourage their members or clients to attend events.
  • Make ride entry welcoming and inclusive.
  • At events, provide accommodations like specific fields and groups.
  • Gather and provide information about adaptive cycles and organizations from adaptive programs and riders.

Stories about adaptive riding

Pedal 4 Possible is a ride for everyone

Pedal 4 Possible is a fundraising ride for Craig Hospital, longtime supporters of Bicycle Colorado’s work to make bicycling safer and more accessible for everyone in our state. Craig Hospital specializes in helping people experiencing brain injury and spinal...

What’s the deal with adaptive eBikes?

Quinn Brett is a Program Analyst with the Wilderness, Outdoor Recreation and Accessibility divisions in the National Park Service (NPS). She is also a bicyclist with a disability. A former Climbing Ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park (RNMP), Quinn took a climbing...

How a visually impaired bicyclist adapts to change

Michael Stone is a bicyclist, a Triathlete, and owner of Colorado Multisport, a bike shop in Boulder. He’s also legally blind with a degenerative eye disease. Michael is a public speaker, and talks about living with adversity and uncertainty, and is a member of...

Denver Century Ride offers fun and approachable urban routes for all kinds of riders: Q&A with participant Eduardo Aguirre

The Denver Century Ride (DCR) on June 20 brings together bicyclists of all ages, experience levels and abilities to explore the city on five supported routes, from a family-friendly 10-mile route to the 100-mile “century.” After the ride, participants are encouraged...

Bicycle opens new avenues—and much more—to para-cyclist Clara Brown

Oh my gosh. It has totally changed me as a person. It sounds corny, but it’s true. I can’t imagine life without biking at this point. Those words come from Clara Brown, a 23-year-old para-cyclist training for the summer 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games at Colorado Springs’...

35-year-old Portland, Oregon resident Michael Trimble was born without arms. In this video, he talks about his experience riding his modified bike.

In this video, people with different disabilities talk about why they like to ride.

Leo Rodgers lost his leg 13 years ago, and now rides a traditional upright bike with no pedal or crankarm on the left side.

Additional resources

Craig Hospital: This hospital provides specialty rehabilitation and research for people with spinal injury and brain injury.

Engaging Students with Disabilities in Safe Routes to School: This publication provides information for Safe Routes to School staff, volunteers, or program leaders on how to plan and develop a program that considers and meets the needs of students with disabilities. Families can also get involved.

Veterans Affairs: There are a number of programs around Colorado and around the country for adaptive sports, run by or administered by the VA.

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What did we miss?

Help us improve this page by sending us an email with feedback at info@bicyclecolorado.org!

This Adaptive Riding page is sponsored by QBP. 

We are grateful for QBP’s support to help us continue our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. For their second year, QBP is the sponsor of our 2020-2021 RIDE Advisory Board and this year will also be sponsoring ongoing DEI stories, events and learning. Learn more about QBP’s commitment to racial justice and actions to advance equity and their Equity and Diversity Internship Program

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