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Special Needs Cycling

"Riding the Buddy Bike can be empowering for riders with special needs."

The Buddy Bike is an adaptive bicycle that provides adaptive outdoor recreation, therapeutic activity and educational opportunities to riders with cognitive or physical disabilities who may not be able to ride a bicycle safely on their own or who do not have the strength to pedal a bike alone. The Buddy Bike is a tandem bicycle (bicycle for two) that places the smaller rider in the front seat while the rear rider controls the steering. 

The Buddy Bike has been officially tested, rated and recognized as a product that is friendly for children of all abilities by AblePlay. The National Lekotek Center is the leading authority on play for children with disabilities. Parents may find this information to be useful in their search for funding for The Buddy Bike or another adaptive bicycle.


Therapists at the National Lekotek Center who tested and rated the Buddy Bike report that riding the same bike as the caregiver or teacher lessens the skills and the number of steps necessary to successfully ride a bike. The front rider has their own handlebars to feel like they are steering without actually having control of the bike and they can contribute to pedaling and propelling the bicycle forward. The rider seated in the front has an unobstructed view for maximum visual stimulation and tactile stimulation in the form of wind on his/her face. The seats are close enough for easy communication between the riders making it easier to keep the person with a disability on task without lagging behind, turning a different way or stopping on their own. Many of our customers state that their children are more alert and responsive after riding their Buddy Bike and that they feel that they fit in by being able to do what other kids do.


Children and adults with Autism, Down Syndrome, Aspergers, Fragile X, blind / sight impaired, hearing impaired and cognitive disabilities is able to keep up with family and friends when riding in a group so they are no longer left behind. Recent studies are showing that riding a bicycle can reduce tremors in patients with Parkinson's Disease.


Potential therapeutic benefits of riding The Buddy Bike:

The National Lekotek Center tested and rated The Buddy Bike in 2008. They found that the therapeutic benefits for individuals with special needs who ride the Buddy Bike may include:

  • Provides physical activity which directly combats obesity.

  • Strengthens core muscles for stability.

  • Improves balance and exercises reciprocal leg movements.

  • Improves motor planning and gross motor skills.

  • Provides visual and tactile stimulation.

  • May improve full body sensory awareness.

  • Helps improve attention and assists children in focusing on cognitive tasks presented after by providing riders with proprioceptive input.

How Cycling Helps Children with Autism

by Siegfried Mortkowitz, 4/11/29

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