Cycles for People with Disabilites

zsun.jpgI spent part of an excellent afternoon recently at a recumbent cycle shop. Recumbents are a great alternative for many people who love cycling, but who can’t, for one reason or another, use conventional bicycles.

cat.jpgRecumbent cycles allow the rider to sit in a more natural, and comfortable, position — as opposed to leaning over, or into, the handlebars — and let legs stretch out in front instead of dangling. Recumbents are kind to spines, and a recumbent with underseat steering can be an advantage for people with arm or hand issues. Recumbent trikes offer stability for people with balance problems, or for those who worry about falling.

tertri.jpg“Comfortable”, in the case of recumbents, does not mean stodgy. These cycles can go anywhere and do just about anything (and more!) than the familiar two-wheeler. And the trikes? These are not your grandmother’s (or even your mother’s) trikes — they’re sleek and geared to take on hills wherever you find them. I’d never ridden a ‘bent until my recent test drives; the experience was exhilarating and very much like the joy of riding a conventional cycle.

Recumbent Bike Rider is like a ‘bent lover’s candy store. I think I saw at least one version of every recumbent I’ve looked at on the Internet. Rob, the owner, is low-key and accommodating; he spontaneously mentioned that he’s discovered that his customer base is much wider than the recumbent enthusiasts he first encountered when he opened the shop. He’s now dealing with a much broader population, and is customizing models for people with disabilities. If State College is within striking distance, and you have particular cycling requirements that a recumbent might address, you might want to look Rob up.

In general, your chances of finding a bike shop willing to fit a cycle to your personal needs may be greater if the shop sells recumbents. You’re a little more likely to have discovered the kind of enthusiast who tinkers more; recumbents require a little more effort to assemble than your standard two-wheeler.

Top recumbent from RBR (Sun’s website is unusable)

Yellow recumbent from Catrike

Touring Trike from WizWheelz

Update: After a series of unpleasant emails from Sun representative Joe Z., I will not recommend Sun products to anyone, and definitely won’t be buying one myself. If you’re interested in a lower-priced recumbent, I’d urge you to wait until spring, when Sun is expected to have a great deal more competition as newer, less-expensive models from other companies join the field.

In retrospect, I’m glad for the contact. Before a major purchase, especially when product support may be an issue down the road, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the company ahead of time. If you’re treated poorly as a prospective customer, you can bet that customer service will only be worse after you buy.

Recumbents can’t be serviced at just any shop; if you need parts or assistance and you end up dealing with a manufacturer who isn’t committed to customer service, you’re really stuck. My recent experience with Sun puts it firmly in that category.

One reply on “Cycles for People with Disabilites”

I had a great experience with Rob over the course of a few months as we worked to fit my son (CP) with a Hase Pino semi-recumbent tandem.

I have since gone on to buy two recumbents of my own from him, become a shop regular, and started helping other disabled cyclists myself.

For those located more on the west coast, Lightfoot Cycles is an excellent resource for custom adapted cycles.

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