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Unsurprisingly, riding a motorcycle is a much more physical activity than driving a car or truck. Exponentially so when compared to a vehicle with an automatic transmission. However, many people without excessive physical strength ride motorcycles, from 800-lb Harley-Davidsons to 200+ horsepower Ducatis. That said, can you ride a motorcycle with one leg? Or do you need four limbs to ride?

You can ride a motorcycle with one leg, but it will require adjustments

No, motorcycle riding isn’t reserved for riders with four limbs. Instead, amputees and folks born without two arms and two legs can prep a motorcycle for their riding needs. That said, riding a standard ICE motorcycle requires both hands and feet. As such, prepping a bike for riding using one leg is a bit trickier than adapting a sensible sedan with an automatic transmission. 

For starters, the modifications required to prepare a motorcycle for a one-legged rider depend on which leg the rider is missing. On a typical motorcycle, the gear shifter is situated on the left side of the motorcycle as you sit on it. Conversely, the rear brake is on the opposite side; the right side as you straddle it. So, if you’re missing your left leg and want to continue riding with your prosthetic limb, you’ll have to make modifications to the shifter.

A person rides a motorcycle through a corner.
A motorcycle rider leans into a corner | Kesu01 via iStock

According to Dr. Jeffrey J. Cain of the Amputee Coalition, “Riders with a below-knee (BK) prosthesis can modify the shift lever by adding a heel extension to allow changing gears by both pushing down with the heel and pushing down at the toe position.” What’s more, riders could also relocate the shifter to the right side of the bike. Moreover, there are push-button, handlebar-mounted, options today as well.

Conversely, if the rider has a dexterous enough prosthesis, they may be able to work the rear brake on the right side. However, amputees who want to take the guesswork out of their motorcycle rides can modify the rear brake. For instance, Dr. Cain says riders can mount another handbrake option. That, or they can opt for a BMW ABS model or similar bike with connected front and rear braking.