Different types of cycle

There are lots of different types of cycles to suit everyone’s needs

Two-wheeled cycles

  • Many disabled cyclists ride a solo bicycle with no adaptations at all.
  • Some may find it easier to mount an open-frame, step through or ‘Lady’s’ bicycle with no top-tube to lift their leg over.

Folding cycles

  • A small-wheeled folding bicycle will usually have an open, step-through, frame.
  • The lower center of gravity may also be helpful.
  • Small-wheeled cycles often have lower gearing than a full-size bicycle (because the gearing has not been adjusted to compensate fully for the smaller wheel) and this may be helpful.
  • A folding bicycle has the advantage that it can easily be fitted into a car or carried on a train or bus.

Electric cycles

  • There are two types of electric cycle: a Pedelec, where the rider must pedal in order to activate the motor, and an e-bike, where the motor is controlled with a switch and can be turned on when required, whether the rider is pedaling or not.
  • An electric tricycle or an electric bicycle with a trailer can be powered with a car battery or similar, greatly extending the range, if the voltage is appropriate.

Female participant smiling while riding a go-kartGo-karts and quad bikes

  • These have four wheels and are designed for fun on a track or off-road setting, rather than on the road.
  • Great for balance support.

Hand Cycles

  • Who needs legs to cycle? Hand Cycles enable you to pedal or ‘crank’ with your arms and provide great exercise for the upper body.
  • Hand Cycles have three wheels and range from upright models with wheelchair-type seats to recumbent models with seating that is leaning back and lower to the ground.

There are hand cycles adaptations that can be fitted directly to regular wheelchairs.

  • Some are built with a combined drive so the rider can use both hands and feet, there are also a variety of tandem hand cycles.


  • Tricycles are great for balance, for cycling at a slow speed, and for regaining confidence after a break from cycling.
  • They are designed with two wheels at the back and one at the front, or the reverse. Many come with a rear basket so are a great solution for transporting shopping or luggage.
  • Tricycles are suitable for riding on even surfaces with few potholes.

Female volunteer riding a tandem with a female participant, female handcycling riding in the backgroundTandems and tandem tricycles

  • Tandems are great for sighted and non-sighted riders to cycle and balance the tandem together.
  • They can also be designed with a lower rear seat for a smaller rider, or with a smaller seat at the front which can be helpful for supervision.
  • Like solo tricycles, tandem tricycles are an option if one of the partners needs balance support or is unable to put a foot down when stopping.

Trailer/Tag-a-Long cycles

  • Trailer cycles attach to the seat-post of a cycle and carry a child, who can pedal to contribute to progress.
  • The adult rider on the cycle has control of steering and braking. Some models come with two wheels for extra stability if the child is unable to balance.
  • It is also possible to get an adaptation which lifts the front wheel of the child’s own cycle off the ground and converts it into a trailer cycle so that the adult has more control when cycling on road.

Side-by-side cycles

  • These cycles are great for back support, reducing pressure on knees and hips, and sharing steering and pedalling.
  • They have three wheels and riders sit next to each other, in an upright or recumbent position. They can be designed for one or both riders to pedal and steer.
  • Side-by-side cycles are intended for use on a track or off-road setting.
  • Available to use at Cycling for All sessions

Companion Cycles

  • Companion cycles have a wheelchair or a seat for a wheelchair user, and a cycle seat for somebody to steer and pedal.
  • They can be designed for a wheelchair to be clipped into a cycle frame, or carried on a cycle so that the user does not have to transfer.
  • They are generally intended for use on a track or off-road setting, rather than on the road.