Rifton Adaptive Bikes

Rifton Adaptive Bikes are what our Physical Therapist suggested for Parker when I started talking about Parker learning how to ride a bike.

Last May the PT brought out a smaller sized Rifton Adaptive Bike for Parker to use since there was nobody else using it.

This summer will be different.  Parker’s taller (the kid is growing UP like a weed!) and ready for the most popular Rifton bike size.  So the bikes the District has need to be available for the summer adaptive P.E. class kids.

Being able to ride a bike is a goal we set for Parker.  At $1,300 dollars a Rifton Adaptive Bike is squarely out of our budget.

I’m coming to the pros (YOU guys!) to ask how you taught your child with special needs to ride a bikeDid you invest in a Rifton?  Were you able to rig up something that worked just as well at a fraction of the cost?

Rifton Adaptive Bike

When I asked our PT what made a Rifton Adaptive Bike worth three months of groceries, she said a lot of  it was the where the pedals were placed on the bike, the fact that the bike is lower to the ground making it possible for Parker to get on it by himself easily and safely.  A guide bar on the back of the bike would allow me to steer or give Parker a break from peddling for a minute or two.  There are also velcro straps on the pedals to make it easier for a child to peddle with.  AND there’s a place for the oxygen tank!

It would be awesome to have all of these options on a bike.  But let’s face it.  People have been teaching their kids with Down syndrome to ride a bike for a long time.  And I bet they didn’t all have fancy wheels on which to do it.  I mean if worse comes to worse I can duct tape Parker’s feet to the pedals, right?  heh.

I’m coming to the pros (YOU guys!) to ask how you taught your child with special needs to ride a bike.  Did you invest in a Rifton?  Were you able to rig up something that worked just as well at a fraction of the cost?

While Rifton Bikes are totally cool looking, I know there have to be other strategies to help a kid like Parker learn how to ride a bike.


About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. I will be following the comments with interest because I would love to get an adaptive bike for my son but I am not sure the money would be worth it. If I spent that much I would be probably be forcing him to ride every spare second he had just so I could feel I got my money’s worth.

  2. Here’s Angela’s bike. It’s not an adaptive bike, but one that can be bought from any bike store. Axel is riding it now too. http://tinyurl.com/cwkr36j

  3. Ok, well that was the wrong link. LOL Here’s the correct one!

  4. Shawen did Lose the Training Wheels twice, but never would go fast enough to get be able to balance. I wasn’t able to help him much – don’t have the arm strength. The whole process has them starting too late as far as I’m concerned, but whatever – we gave up. Last summer we just bought him an adult trike. It’s nothing special. I think we looked at one like Leah linked to, but it was out of our price range. The one we have is fine for him, but he is much older and bigger than Parker and doesn’t have an oxygen tank to worry about. He likes it. It works. Not sure that it would work for Parker, though. We did put it off for a long time, but he really wasn’t ready for it until now anyway. We still will have to keep it locked up this summer because he’ll just take off if we don’t watch him like a hawk -

  5. Tamara, that’s where we’re at with Angela. Our neighborhood is not conducive to bike riding (lots of steep hills, even our driveway is very steep and dangerous for a kid on a bike.) If Angela got it out of the garage she’d have to first survive going down the driveway. Angela’s bike has a “mom brake” on the back which was great when she was first learning to ride, but now that she’s figured out she’s faster than me, I’m screwed. Last summer we would take her to the school track (which is fenced) and turn her loose. She’d ride five or six miles before she wanted to go home.

    • Our neigbhorhood is awesome for bike riding. We live in a circle and everything is level. Parker loves being outside and being active and I’m just thinking NOW is the time to get him really going on a bike.

  6. Can you tell me the name of this bike? We have lots of bike stores around here! Thanks!

  7. Marci says:

    You might look at no pedal balance bikes to start with. Here is an example of one:

  8. Frank dude says:

    We have a RIfton. AMAZING and awesome to watch our kiddo ride daily. We are getting ready to upgrade even. Our tires need to be replaced, we need a taller seat. We should have one in a few weeks! Now the biggest problem is, getting rid of our small one.

  9. Hi Tammy and Parker,
    We can empathize with you since adaptive trikes are often an item insurance won’t cover, although they are extremely beneficial for motor and social development as well as just plain fun. This resource may be of help in figuring out funding for a Rifton bike: http://www.rifton.com/adaptive-mobility-blog/funding-assistance-for-adaptive-equipment/ You might specifically try contacting your local branch of Variety the Children’s Charity (their link is near the bottom of the page). You should start by findin the location nearest you. Tell them that the Pittsburgh branch (http://www.varietypittsburgh.org/MyBikeProgram.asp) has delivered hundreds of trikes to kids in the greater Pittsburgh area, and the program has been a great success. If you run out of other options you might try contacting that branch directly through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/varietypittsburgh
    Hope this helps.
    the Rifton Team

  10. Alex has a rock-n-ride trike (though if he keeps growing he’ll be too big for it at the end of this summer. He also has a Strider Balance Bike.

    The question is, what’s your goal? A big wheel is what finally got Alex pedalling at school. I am a fan of balance bikes, if there’s a good chance your child will be able to balance & pedal a regular 2 wheeler. But rather than the adaptive bike, I’d start with a local bike shop and see what other options there are.

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