My sister is disabled and she wanted me to try to find something I could use to pull her behind me when I go for a bike ride....I might have to look at an electric bike to be able to do that...but I am not finding a stroller for adults that would work. Is there a product on the market that would serve that purpose?
There are a lot of options that don't involve a passive trailer. Moving two people with the energy of one person means that hills are to be avoided. You'd struggle to get up an overbridge or short incline/ramp. So flat-land riding. Also, none of these bikes are going to be "fast" so expect to do 5-15 km/h at most.
My favourite is the armchair or chairbike.
- you can talk fairly easily
- passenger can see forward, rider can see passenger.
- Tricycle so that balancing is not an issue.
I've even seen this kind of thing with a full-on armchair on the front.
Caboose bike: more like the trailer concept, but the passenger can choose to pedal too.
- Uses your regular bike as the tow-tractor.
- Can be removed and bike used like normal
- the passenger can push the bike when the rider wants to stop.
- Much harder to talk while riding
- Cornering will feel weird with this.
If your sister is okay with pedalling, a tandem may be suitable:
If a saddle is not suitable, other styles of tandem exist like this, and it may be possible to disconnect the link chain if you don't want her pedalling.
Finally, there exist full-on "car, but bike" like this quadracycle.
- Fantastic forward view because you're on a seat not a saddle
- 4 wheels for stability
- Rain/sun cover and some even have a plastic front window.
- Heavy, expensive, and wide. You may get stuck on bollards or mantraps.
- Massive wind area so headwinds will be difficult and side winds could be scary.
- Looks vaguely like a car, but isn't.
I posted it as a comment, but may better to elaborate it further. I know the policies area against "shopping advice", but on the other hand, the question here is so niche, and is unlikely to be answered without ending up mentioning specific products (or be vague but not helpful) — an alternative would be to redirect to associations that can help, but it faces the same problem: the links are region specific, and may expire with time. Also, the associations may not be aware of the commercial offering, especially in regions that are not "bike friendly".
First the recommendation: I found one company that is making bikes for people with disabilities: Van Raam. Their product ranges seems to cover a wide range of disabilities (from the bike designed to carry a wheelchair, to lighter tricycles — mostly electric). It may be worth visiting one of their dealerships (North America and Europe). In term of prices, they in the same range as generic cargo e-bikes. It's not a endorsement, but they seem to the dominant player of this market.
I would rule out the trailer for an adult. Law of physics are what they are, bike trailers are passive and to accommodate a larger load, they must have an integrated braking system (in case of emergency braking, the trailer will have the tendency to flip, which adds difficulty of controlling a bike in a already complex situation). I'm not aware of bike brakes that can be connected to trailer brakes.
It's possible to fit adult rack seat on a longtail. Front loading cargo bikes (bakfiets or tricycles) can also be arranged to carry an adult, and it may be possible to adapt a front loading cargo bike for this use (some are sold as platforms - Urban Arrow Cargo/Tender to give examples, which give some flexibility). In terms of maximum admissible weight, it's no problem to carry adults, some are even fitted with benches, or can be. This might be a solution for lighter disabilities, and they can be useful in other situations, too.
But there some drawbacks:
- In markets where cargo bikes are sold, they are ultimately competing with cars, not with bikes, and are priced accordingly.
- Unless you go for the adaptation of a "platform bike" (adding cost to an already expensive proposition), boarding/disembarking may be very difficult for a person with heavy disabilities.
- Some cargo bikes are intended to transport goods, not people, so some builders may discourage passengers for liability or regulatory reasons, even if a simple technical solution exists.
I care for a severely disabled family member and this question makes me really happy.
It depends on your situation, how much money and time you have to invest in the "right" solution. Some of the other answers have highlighted ideal solutions - eg. a wheelchair-adapted front load cargo ebike. If that is remotely in the cards for you definitely go for it.
On the other, in my experience, 90% of the amazing experiences and memories we've had over the last 10 years have come because we were willing to just make it work with what we have.
I've built a number of bike carts and I think you could absolutely do this. Depending on your skill level, there are some bike cart diy kits that allow you to easily put together your own cart with custom dimensions using eg. 1" aluminum extrusions. They come with plastic angles and connectors, wheels, axles and the attachment point to the bicycle.
This makes it easy to build a structural frame and then all you have to do is put on a platform, chair etc.
For a person-hauler, I'd look to have a wide wheelbase - say 3', and a low center of gravity. I went to 4' on one cart and it was too wide to comfortably navigate the bike paths. But 3' should be fine.
Ideally the seat would be below the height of the wheel axles, maybe with 6" clearance from the road to. Also, forward/back balance is important - you want a slight tongue weight for stability.
The weight is managable if the terrain is pretty flat. Don't get going too fast because as mentioned elsewhere stopping can be dangerous. I have pedalled a 200lbs cart with some minor elevation changes.
Obviously a bike path or low traffic area is ideal.
Anyway, I hope you and your sister make some beautiful memories.
One product category that might work is electric bicycle rickshaws.
There are reasonably priced models and usually designed to seat two adults comfortably. They are not suitable for off-road use or high speeds, but reasonable speeds on paved roads work well.
(Image credit: Wikipedia user ВиКо)
This by Czech Republic based Benecycle, fits the bill: (From the company homepage)
I have no personal experience.
As far as I know, some of the recumbent trikes by Haase Bikes can also be used as a trailer. Personally I'm not sure about the weight distribution in this case.
You might look into contacting a metal fabricator (or maybe a machine shop) in your area to fabricate a custom trailer that would meet your needs. If there is any type of community bike group that refurbishes bikes in your area they may also be able to help or give good suggestions. I have no idea what the cost would be but I expect it would be much less than my other suggestion of a cargobike. :)
Some things to consider for the design:
- I would suggest basing the design of the attachment point off of a commercially available trailer (or buying/salvaging that part).
- Make sure the wheels, hubs, and bearings will be sufficient for the weight of the trailer plus the passenger, as well as the load forces experienced when accelerating, braking, turning, etc. (That is true for the attachment point as well)
- Make sure the weight of the trailer plus the passenger is not too heavy to start and stop comfortably. Regardless of weight, trailers are generally easy to keep moving once they've reached a cruising speed
- Ensure the trailer allows sufficient range of movement to navigate tight turns. (You never know when you might need to U-turn)
- Consider looking at commercially available trailers for useful features
Eg. Allowing the bike to fall over without tipping the trailer, easy attachment/detachment, brakes/chocks to hold the trailer when parked?, etc.
- But the trailer platform itself should be completely customizable to your needs.
(I'm not sure how a fabricator would feel about the potential for liability if their work was to fail but I hope they would be competent enough for a relatively simple project like this.)
Just passing along here that we have used a Blue Sky Cycle Cart built for disabled adults for many, many years for our 115-lb disabled daughter. We use a std bike to pull it (not electric). It's kind of a beast (which is to say, physically large) but it is the only trailer or other bike-riding technology we've found that allows her to step into the trailer without our having to lift her, and without getting over a wheel or hopping up onto a seat or anything like that. (She is able to step with assistance.) We bought ours more than 20 years ago and the company is still going strong. http://blueskycyclecarts.com/
Note: This suggestion is likely too expensive to actually be helpful.
Having never considered buying a cargobike myself I didn't realize how expensive they were (You would probably be looking at $8,000 - $10,000 USD). So a cargobike is probably not a suitable solution but it may be helpful simply to know that such a thing exists and is commercially available.
Some type of a cargobike or cargo tricycle might also work if you are willing to modify it slightly with some wood and/or padding to add a seat. They are often used to carry children (even 2 or 3 at a time) and they are also regularly used for deliveries, so the proof of concept is there for carrying people and heavier items. In fact, I have seen adults ride in the cargo areas (just not often since they usually prefer to ride their own bicycle).
There are several different styles and many variations depending on the specific model. They are generally designed with a platform or box either at the front or back (although the ones intended to carry children do have a purpose-built seat). You would have to find one that would allow you to attach whatever type of seat would allow both you and your sister to be comfortable and secure. That may be difficult since they are not designed with the idea of carrying adults in mind but I think is possible.
Some are available with electric assist which would make riding generally easier and controlled, increase your range, and allow riding over more varied terrain. Although, the capabilities vary from model to model.
This article has some good descriptions and pictures of various types of cargobikes.
The Youtube channel Active Towns recently released a video on cycling with people who can not (or no longer) cycle themselves.
It is called An introduction to Cycling Without Age and it shows a lot of scenes with Danish design trikes, by now from several sources, where the passenger is in front of the pilot, and there can be two passengers. In the video they call it tri-shaw.
Cycling without age have a website.
And there is also a link to a webinar, called Tedtalk, about the subject.
And a little search online gave me this page, from the Cycling Without Age website, where they show several options and give information on the builders.
I have seen the video but not followed the links, but I guess that they will be worth checking out.
In the comments on the video I have noticed several people sharing their experience in cycling with people with special needs.
My 123-lb disabled daughter needs maximum support in every way. My solution to bringing her along on bike rides is pretty much exactly what Adam Brown recommends in his answer. I have bought a powerful e-bike as well as a kit to make a custom trailer. My girl’s regular stroller is heavy duty and rated for transportation on moving vehicles, so it has plenty strong attachment points. I will use integrated harnesses to affix it to the trailer.
The two remaining make or break issues are weight rating and stability. On the first I plan on using thick, 1” square steel tubes rather than the usual aluminum, as well as adding a couple extra cross members. On the second, Adam’s suggestion of a 3’ wide platform is a good one, as well as not racing through curves and avoiding sudden stops.
I’m really looking forward to enjoying some time with my girl outdoors.