There is a lot to consider when purchasing a bicycle trailer for your disabled loved one. Here we detail some talking points to consider before taking the plunge.
Trailer and Jogging Stroller combos are becoming popular as more families choose to drive their car less and make the jump to cycling and walking. It can be daunting trying to choose a trailer that will suit your family the best. We’ve spent many years working on and improving our special needs products so that they can be a great fit for most special needs individuals and families. In this post, we illustrate some points to be considered when purchasing a trailer or jogging stroller to use with your loved one. We’ve already taken these points to heart in our product design, and we hope you will understand why. Read on to learn more about how a jogging stroller/trailer can fit into your life.
Medical Use vs Recreational Use
Bicycle trailers and jogging strollers (or a combination of both) are not meant to replace your primary mobility equipment, but rather they can be a wonderful addition to the family to help your loved one enjoy nature, get some fresh air, and spend more quality time with family where they otherwise would not be able to.
Many of the families that purchase a WIKE Special Needs trailer are successful in finding an organization to assist with the purchase or reimbursement of their WIKE, despite it being a purely recreational product. Our suggestion is to look for charities or organizations in your area, specifically pertaining to your loved one’s disability or diagnosis (ex: If your loved one has Angelman Syndrome, reach out to an organization that assists families touched by Angelman Syndrome). It also never hurts to reach out to your insurance company to see if they cover these types of items (you never know if you don’t ask, right?).
How big/max size/max weight of person?
This can vary widely between manufacturers. The ASTM standards for bicycle trailers state that a bicycle should pull no more than 100lbs in a trailer. This is the industry standard that bicycle trailers conform to in North America. A trailer with a higher weight capacity, for example 150lbs, does not mean that it is unsafe or non-conforming, but you must make an adjustment to your cycling style. Taking turns more slowly, ensuring you use extra care when cycling on uneven terrain, and reducing speed are both things you must do to make sure you and your loved one are safe on the road. The person in the trailer will appreciate the extra care, as their ride will be smoother and more stable. WIKE’s Special Needs trailers can carry individuals from 40” to 70” tall, from 50lbs to 150lbs. Height should be the main factor considered, followed by weight. While weight limits are still essential and not to be ignored, it is very important that the individual’s head does not extend above the frame of the trailer. All WIKE’s bicycle trailers for transporting people feature a built-in roll cage. The two canopy hoops that make up the top of the trailer act as a roll cage in the event of a trailer rollover. This is where the height limit comes into play – if their head is touching the fabric in between the two hoops, the likelihood for a neck or head injury increases. It is important that your loved one does not exceed the height maximum for important safety reasons.
What if my loved one is severely disabled, non-verbal, or non-ambulatory?
The main factors that affect the usability of a special needs bicycle trailer or jogger are: height, weight, muscle tone, and general awareness (for safety reasons). Height and weight are often the easiest factors to confirm. Minimum and maximum height and weight information are available on our website or user manual. You should be able to find this information on the product pages of any other product you are researching as well. You will also want to consider if you will often need to bring an oxygen tank, a day bag for snacks and medicine, or any other important items you may need with you – will it all fit into the trailer or storage pockets? In a WIKE trailer, there is plenty of room around the footwell, under the seat, and in the back pocket for extra items you will need during your cycling adventures.
Muscle tone and general awareness is where extra attention may be needed. Ask yourself these questions: Does your loved one sit up on their own? Are they able to hold their head up while riding in the trailer, with a helmet on, and for a prolonged period? Can they stay seated towards the back of their seat reliably, or do they tend to lean/slide forward? Does my loved one need additional leg room to accommodate muscle spasms or kicking? These are some questions that you may want to answer before choosing the product that is right for you and your loved one. If you are unsure, please reach out to your occupational therapist or family doctor and/or call us for advice. We are happy to spend time with you to make sure that the trailer will be a good fit for you and your loved one, you can get in contact with us here.
In terms of general awareness, the design of some special needs’ trailers will necessitate the answers to the following questions: does the person riding in the trailer understand that they can be hurt if they touch the moving wheels/spokes (in the case of an open-sided trailer)? What if they try to grab something outside the trailer when it is in motion? What if your loved one suddenly tries to get out, will they be safely and securely fastened into the trailer/stroller with a 5-point harness? Will the trailer tip over if they are moving around too much? If they have hypertonia or involuntary muscle spasms, are they going to have enough room and stability to fully stretch out? Does your loved one have any recurrent sensory issues that being in a trailer or stroller (covered or uncovered) may trigger? If you are unsure, or need extra confirmation, again these are all good questions to ask your occupational therapist or family doctor.
It’s better to be safe than sorry as many special needs products do not have return or exchange policies, but don’t worry – WIKE is not one of them. Check out our return policy here.
Many special needs products come with additional features or have add-ons available for purchase after the fact. These can be seating cushions, different types of harnesses, extra wheel attachments, and even outdoor covers and carrying bags. Many companies choose to have these available as extras, as in not included with purchase. Some companies even have rainscreens and safety flags as extra, chargeable, add-ons. The rainscreen and bug screens are arguably the more important add-ons, so that the occupant can stay dry in the rain, be protected one from bugs and dust, as well as prevent your bike tires from flinging stones into the trailer (read: at the person in the trailer!). WIKE trailers come with everything you need to get going, rain or shine. In a WIKE trailer, we’ve got you covered (literally): we’ve designed our trailers to be fully enclosed with waterproof material, with a tuck-away bug screen built-in. Our trailers also come with a rain screen, two bicycle hitches, a safety flag, as well as two different styles of harnesses right out of the box so that you have everything you need to get out the door and onto the trails. That being said, we do have many accessories that come in handy for most families, click here to have a look at the accessories we offer. You don’t need to worry about the weather in your WIKE – we’ve already done that for you.
Seating adjustment cushions are popular add-ons. They allow you to adjust the seated angle and position of the individual if they are not able to reposition themselves. They can also be used to add extra support to the head, neck, and chest area. WIKE trailers have a slight recline function with the addition of the Recliner Set or the Seat Wedge - your loved one will be reclined and relaxing in no time. The reclined position pushes the rider’s knees up, while pushing their hips forward, allowing them to recline in a comfortable position. This can also prevent the rider from sliding or leaning forward.
Many bicycle trailers nowadays can be turned into a stroller or a jogging stroller. These add-ons typically must be purchased separately. Some customers may only need a trailer, and some customers may prefer to have everything for biking, strolling, and/or jogging right off the bat. WIKE’s Large Special Needs Trailer is convertible from a bicycle trailer to a jogging stroller or a walking stroller with the addition of the add-on kits. The XL is not yet upgradable for walking, but don’t worry – we’re working on it.
It can be a real let down to receive the product and not have everything you expected, so it’s important to double check which components are included with the product you are interested in so that you are not missing out on anything your loved one may need (or enjoy!).
What’s so special about WIKE’s Special Needs Trailers?
We know that people come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities, so we’ve taken that into consideration when creating our Special Needs products. The Large and Extra-Large WIKE trailers have features that make cycling with your disabled loved-one a safe and fun experience for everybody. The first notable feature that separate our special needs products from our child trailers is the addition of two side zippers to the enclosed canopy.
This allows you to retract the canopy for easier transfers into the trailer from a wheelchair or other mobility device. Other trailers tend to have a smaller opening for entry, which can be very difficult to transfer into when you must carry the person over and into the opening of the trailer. The side canopy also prevents the rider from touching the wheels/spokes while in motion, on top of keeping them protected from the sun, rain, cold, and bugs. Both models of Special Needs Trailers (not to mention our children’s bicycle trailers) have a built-in roll cage, to keep the occupant safe in the event of a rollover.
The Large Special Needs trailer accommodates individuals measuring from 40” to 64” (5’4”) and weighing up to 125lbs. The Extra-Large Special Needs Trailer will fit somebody up to 70” (5’10”) and 150lbs. Both have a spacious back pocket, under-seat storage, and a waterproof canopy. We’ve designed them with your family in mind, so that everybody can get out and enjoy the best of what nature has to offer. Get in touch with us today and we will help you determine which special needs bicycle trailer is the right one for your family.