Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs

Working out how to cycle with your child when they’re not able to pedal a bicycle by themselves can sometimes seem an overwhelming task.

Cycle Sprog is here to help families understand the different options available. When children are babies and toddlers, there are plenty of choices, from front and rear seats, to trailers and cargo bikes.

However, as children get older, the possibilities (especially at a reasonable price) reduce as the majority of children move onto riding their own bikes.

For children with disabilities or other needs it’s not always possible to move onto a two-wheeled pedal bike, so what are the options as your child gets older (and heavier)?

With the help of members of the Family Cycling UK Facebook Group, here’s a summary of some of the ways you can continue to cycle as your child gets older.

There are two ways in which you can cycle with a child with special needs and disabilities; the first is for them to ride their own bike, and the second is for you to carry them on your bike.

Cycle Sprog is a reader-supported website. When you buy through links on this page we may earn an affiliate commission.

Balance bikes for older children with disabilities

Many children with special needs or disabilities struggle to transition to a pedal bike, therefore a larger balance bike can be really useful to them.

Some children will be able to use a pedal bike in time, so there are two brands that start off as a balance bike and then move to a pedal bike.

Kidvelo Rookie

Kidvelo have produced an affordable balance bike that can also be used as a pedal bike, should your child need it. They come in 14" and 18" wheel size and feature an upright riding style with a swept up handlebar, which can help your child maintain their balance.

These bikes have been proving very popular with children who have autism and cerebral palsy. 

Kidvelo rookie 14 balance bike to pedal bike - the best bikes for older children with disabilities
Kidvelo rookie 18 kids balance to pedal bike - the best bikes for older kids with disability

Kidvelo Rookie 14 details:

Price: £225

Age: 3 - 6 years old

Adjustable seat: 40 - 59cm inseam

Warranty: Lifetime on frame and fork

Buy Now


Kidvelo Rookie 18 details:

Price: £250

Age: 5 - 8 years old

Adjustable seat: 48 - 68cm inseam

Warranty: Lifetime on frame and fork

Buy Now

Black Mountain

Black Mountain bikes are a premium large balance bike at a higher cost, but go up to a 20" wheel. They have an innotive growing frame which means you can keep your child on the bike for longer as they grow.

They have an 18" wheel balance bike called the Black Mountain Kapel, and a 20" wheel balance bike called the Black Mountain HUTTO. But you will need to buy a conversion kit to use these bikes in balance bike mode.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs - Black mountain KAPEL bike
Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs

Black Mountain Kapel Details:

Price: £499

Age: 5 - 8 years old

Height: 110 - 128cm

Wheel size: 18"

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Black Mountain HUTTO details:

Price: £499

Age: 6 - 9 years old

Height: 118 - 134cm

Wheel size: 20"

Buy Now


Trikes and tricycles for older children

If your child can pedal but cannot balance on a two wheeled pedal bike, then a third wheel provides so much more stability when riding. This makes tricycles a popular choice, and there are a number of different style kids trikes, including this great BMX style tricycle - so cool!

Mission Cycles BMX Trike for kids with disabilities - adapted bikes for disabled children

The Mission MX retails for £639 from Mission Cycles.

It can be upgraded to a special needs version - price available on request. This comes with lumbar support, a 4 point harness, platform pedals with adjustable velcro straps, and a detachable parent handle. Additional modifications can be made on request.

Special needs BMX

For older kids and teenagers, the more mature looking Pashley Picador Tricycle (pictured below) comes in two frame sizes. The 15" is suitable for an inside leg of 25.5" to 32.5" (from approx 11 years) and the 17" frame for taller riders (27.5" to 35.5" inside leg).

Pashley Picador Tricycle - a good choice of bike for older disabled children

Adaptive kids bikes

If your child requires a more specialist bike, there are a number of retailers that stock adaptive kids bikes. There is an increasing range to choose from, with options including recumbent and handcycles, trikes, four wheelers, and bikes that are able to transport wheelchairs.

It's well worth checking out Wheels For All first, to see if there's a local centre near you where you can borrow before investing your own money.

A few of the main suppliers of adaptive kids bikes in the UK are Get Cycling and Mission Cycles. It's also worth checking out eBay and any local support groups for second hand options.

The costs of buying a bike suitable for children with a disability or additional needs can be high. Our article An introduction to inclusive cycling for kids of all abilities has details of where you can apply for funding support and find other useful sources of information.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs
Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs - cnoc 16 kids bike

Pedal bikes for children with disproportionate dwarfism

Finding a pedal bike that properly fits children with disproportionate dwarfism is difficult as bikes designed for average body proportions simply don’t fit. Islabikes offer a tailored version of their popular Cnoc 14 Small and Cnoc 16 models. They combine scaled-down componentry with a more upright riding position, better centering the rider's body weight for a more controlled, confident ride.

The two models are available online or can be ordered over the telephone on 01584 708 383.

How to carry an older child with a disability on your bike

There may be times where your child cannot use their own bike, or it may be inappropriate for them to use it for the nature of the journey that you're making.

The good news is, there are options for you to carry your child on your bike with you, and these are some of the recommendations we've had from parents with children who have special needs or disabilities.

Child seats for older children

Most child bike seats are designed for kids up to about 4 years in age, but it is possible to get several seats for older children.

The Yepp Junior Budget is designed for ages 5-10 years (max weight 30kg) and comes with foot stirrups and a fairly good chest strap.

Mum Kez told us “Our son has ASD and dyspraxia so I always looks at safely holding him into his seat as our first priority. The Yepp is a nice sturdy seat and is easy to fit.”

Several things to consider when using a seat with an older child are your ability to handle the extra weight (especially on hills) and the impact the child will have on balance and stability.

Kez again “At 21kg my son really changes the balance and stability of the bike. It’s fine on off-road cycle routes, but on the road can be tricky, especially when there’s a lot of potholes”.

The Yepp Junior Budget retails from £65.

Another possible choice is the Bobike Junior Seat which has similar features.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs - rear bike seats for kids

Charlotte's Tandems - try for free

Charlotte's Tandems is a charity that loans out (free of charge) tandems, trailers, and tagalongs to people with disabilities or additional needs. They have options for children aged 4 plus and over. The loans are administered by volunteers around the country, so this could be a great way of trying out family cycling with your child.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs - cargo bikes are great for riding with children who have a disability or special needs

Cargo bikes

Cargo bikes are another good way of transporting children of all ages.

I'm not going to go into details here about cargo bikes, suffice to say they are at the other end of the price spectrum to rear seats, and are a brilliant way to get around with your kids.

Check out this article for more information on cargo bikes.

Whilst child seats and cargo bikes are a great option (and are a very popular way for parents to transport older kids in countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark where cycling is a mainstream method of transport), they have the disadvantage that the child is not partaking in the cycling themselves – they are merely a passenger.

Some kids are happy with that, but others will want to get involved.  So, what are the options available if your child can’t make the transition to a two-wheeled pedal bike?

Trailer bike or tagalong for children with special needs

For some children a trailer bike or tagalong is a great option. They have the freedom of pedaling whilst being pulled along behind an adult bike, and can coast along when they get tired. There are a number of different options available, although most tend to just have a regular bike seat.

If your child needs more support, it's worth looking at the two different models of the Weehoo bike trailers, which are suitable for up to age 9 (80kg). The lower spec is the Weehoo iGo Turbo and the higher spec is the Weehoo iGo Venture (pictured below) which comes with a rack and large panniers for carrying everything you need on your trip out.

Foot straps on the pedals and the adjustable 3-point harness with chest buckle help keep the child secure during the ride. Hand grips give children something to hold on to and the sprocket and chain are enclosed to keep little fingers grease free and away from harm. Canopy and rain cover accessories are sold separately.

Remember that you’ll need to be able to balance the bike and trailer bike when you get off to then help your child out, which is why you'll note the bike stand in the picture above. You can also buy a kickstand for the Weehoo trailer.

There is also a two seater version available if you need to transport two children by bike.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs
Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs

Tandems for children

There are a number of exciting tandem options where you can steer your child whilst they sit either in front or behind you.

These are far more common in the Netherlands, where they are a popular form of family cycling, and it's possible to rent various tandem options from the regular bike rental locations throughout The Netherlands.

If you think this type of cycle may suit your family, options include the Buddy Bike, where your arms go round the outside of your child. Your child is nice and close to your body, providing comfort and reassurance. It's a great experience for both child and adult.

More traditional tandems have the riders further apart.  It's possible to have your child either in front or behind you, but for communication reasons many parents prefer their child in front.

Onderwaterfiets tandem, which is available with one adult and one child seat, or a single adult seat with two child seats in front for those with more than one child needing transporting.

The Hula Co-Pilot allows the adult to steer from the rear. is a Dutch second-hand marketplace (a local equivalent of eBay) and is a great starting point to look for suitable options (often at a very reasonable price) - this is the link to their tandems page.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs
Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs
Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs - tandems are a great way to cycle with children who have a disability or special needs

Trailer trike

With a trailer bike or tagalong there is only a single wheel touching the ground. This means they may feel rather wobbly, especially at speed.

This can prove problematic for some children, plus as mentioned additional assistance may be needed with the mounting and dismounting process.

An alternative is a trailer trike, which has two wheels to give a good level of stability for the child being towed, and won’t tip over when you come to a halt.

One popular option is the Mission Piggyback Trailer Trike, which comes in a 20” and 24” wheel version. It can be fitted with an adapted seat with a backrest, side supports and a seat belt for children who require additional support.

Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs

However, please do be aware that a trailer trike is connected to the lead bike by a universal joint so it is not restrained from tipping on cornering.

You can't see what your child is up to, and they may be tilting their weight at just moment you take a curve.

This does not happen on a single-wheeled trailer, which tilts with the lead bike.  So, please only use trailer trikes only if you remember to take corners very carefully.

The Mission Piggyback Trailer Trike is available at Mission Cycles.

If you have found a way of cycling with your child which is not included above, please do let us know in the comments section below.

A big thank you to Pam, Kez, Willow, James, Bart, and Matthew from the Family Cycling UK Facebook Group for the inspiration for, and help with, writing this post.




I am looking for your advice, please. I have a 13 years old son with disability who learned how to ride a 4 wheeled bike and really enjoyed riding it (children’s bike in fact with 2 wheels and 2 balancers), now he’s grown out of this bike, but he is still quite small (1,34m). I feel like I need a 16” 2 wheeled bike with balancers that can be removed later so I could still teach him how to ride a 2 wheeled bike later, but just don’t want to put him off the new bike as It would be difficult for him to learn to manage on 2 wheels from the start. I also hope to get a bike with larger wheels that would be more steady and allow him to keep better balance when learning to ride on 2 wheels. Would be really grateful for your suggestions/comments, please.

Many thanks!


Penny Millar

Hi Elena
Many thanks for your comment. Great to hear that your son is enjoying cycling and ready to move on to his next bike. It might be worth having a look at our Big Balance Bikes for Taller Children post, which might have some suitable options, however we’d recommend joining the Family Cycling UK page on Facebook. You’ll find many cycling families on there, including those who have children with disabilities, they’re very inclusive and supportive and would be able to advise with first hand experience. We hope this helps. Best regards, Penny


Dear Penny,

Thank you a lot for your kind reply! This is very helpful, I will definitely have a look at your suggestions.

Kind regards,



Hi there, I’m looking for any ideas at all on how to take a heavy 3 year old with me on rides, I’m only an occasional rider, Weekends and evenings if possible depending on the kids ? my 3year old has a mild learning difficulty, Can’t ride very far and tends to fall over himself alot whilst on his balance bike, I find it very hard using reins whilst riding on my own bike with him as he’s not a fast mover but a bit of a runner and just has no road sense at all! I’m wondering if it’s worth the money to buy a good trailer but witch one? As he would need it upto a bigger weight limit with him not having much of a clue how to ride a pedal bike yet and it may take some time for him to do so I think, A rear bike seat is just no good for us iv seen them bouncing around allover whilst I’m out and worry too much about them, Help please!

Penny Millar

Hi Jennifer
Thanks for your comment. It does sound like a trailer might be a good option for you and your son. As we haven’t reviewed all of them ourselves, we might not be best placed to answer the question based on your specific needs, however we would recommend asking your question on the Family Cycling UK page on Facebook. With a large community of cycling families, someone with first hand experience may be able to help. An organisation worth looking at for more information and advice is Charlotte’s Tandems. I hope this helps. Penny

wanda ferguson

I really like the last bike picture with the young boy and the big wheels. Could you please tell me the name of the bike and who carries the bike. Thanks

Penny Millar

Hi Wanda
It’s a Victor Recumbent Trike from Quest 88, however, the photo is 18 months old, so they may not have this exact model anymore. The link to their webpage is here, it’s worth contacting them direct to see if they still have this model. Good luck! Penny

Sean Tyson

Hi where can I get the bike seat with lumber support from I’ve looked on eBay ect but can’t find them

Penny Millar

Hi Sean
Are you referring to the MX 16″ Tricycle? If so, they are available through Mission Cycles, if you click on the link in the post, it will take you straight to their page. If you are looking for just the seat itself, I would contact them to see if they can advise if this is available independently. I hope that helps? Penny

Katie king

My son is 14 and weighs 34kg, hes recently acquired a brain injury and requires head and trunk support, any suggestions?


Hello Katie – thanks for getting in touch. I’m not the best person to help with a question this specific, so suggest you contact a specialist supplier of bike, as listed in the post. There is a really good Facebook Group called Family Cycling UK which is a great place to pose questions – there is usually someone there who has the answer, or knows someone who can help. They can be found at
Hope this helps

Charles James

Hi Neil, I have something similar to the Mission Piggy Back Trailer Trike for sale. It was used by my son who has cerebral palsy. It’s called the Add-1 and was manufactured by Neatwork. If you are interested I can send you the full spec. and photos.
Best regards,


Hi Charles, could you send me the details please. My son has cp and can’t go his trike so looking at the mission trike tag along. But it’s too dear.
If you could mail me please

Neil Raw

Hi could you give me some advice on your products pleas. I am looking for a tagalong type bike or possibly a trike to be used on Forrest roadswith 24 inch wheels for the older child/young adults aged between 10 and 18 wjo habe special needs.

Kind regards

Neil Raw.


Hello Neil
Thanks for getting in touch with Cycle Sprog. We are a website that discusses family cycling – we don’t actually stock the products. If you select the most relevant looking product from those highlighted and contact the manufacturer or stockist directly then they will be able to help you. Every child has different needs, and every family has slightly different requirements as to where they’ll be riding – terrain, gradient etc, so they’ll be able to provide specific advice for your circumstances.
Two helpful organisations are Cycle Projects Wheels For All and Charlotte’s Tandems – their websites are worth a look for more information and advice.
Hope you find the perfect bike for your family. Karen

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