How To Choose The Best One For You – Forbes Health

There are plenty of bike options that can accommodate older riders and their varying levels of skill, fitness and mobility. No matter the style you ultimately choose, Wayman recommends practicing on a stationary bike before you hit the open road to help boost your cycling confidence and get you used to the mechanics of a bike, including the sometimes-tricky act of mounting and dismounting.

Electric-Assist Bikes (E-Bikes)

E-bikes work much the way traditional pedal bikes do, but they have the added bonus of an electric motor that can assist you when you need it—for instance, when you want to navigate up a hill, keep up with a group or just to give your tired legs a break. You still have to pedal an e-bike, but depending on the “assist” level you choose, you can pedal and ride with less effort. Research in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine suggests e-bikes don’t provide the same intensity of exercise as a pedal bike, but you can still get a decent workout while riding one.

E-bikes are a great choice for any older adult who worries about maintaining the stamina needed to complete a bike ride or ascend a tough hill. On the downside, e-bikes can be heavy (many weigh about 45 pounds), expensive (ranging from several hundreds to several thousands of dollars) and, because of their weight and speed—they can travel up to 28 miles per hour—can poses additional dangers.

Erik Moen, a Washington state-based physical therapist and national authority on bicycle biomechanics and injury prevention, recommends that individuals interested in e-bikes receive instruction on how to use them before taking them on the road. “For people who have limited fitness and strength, e-bikes can be a great assist,” says Moen. “But if all of a sudden you’re on a bike that can go 20 to 28 miles per hour and you don’t have the skills required to handle that speed, there can be problems.”

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Cruisers

As the name implies, cruiser bikes—also known as beach cruisers—are made for casual cycling. With wide tires, wide seats and tall handlebars, they’re ideal for older adults looking for a stable yet comfortable ride. They’re great for wheeling around town or running errands. But all those features that make the bikes stable also make them heavy. If you plan to transport the bike anywhere, make sure you can lift it before buying.

Cruisers are best used on flat trails, says Moen. “They’re not good for long distances [or going uphill] because of their lack of gears and their weight,” he says. “The heavier a bike is, the harder it is to start from a stop and generate momentum.”

Cruiser bikes can also be hard to navigate around tight turns due to their long wheelbase, says Laurie Williams, a League of American Bicyclists-certified instructor who teaches biking classes in the Washington, DC area. And with a top speed of about 15 miles per hour, Williams says you won’t break any land speed records on a cruiser.

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Adult Trikes

Remember the tricycles of your youth? Adult trikes operate under the same principle. They’re three-wheeled adult-sized bikes that, like cruiser bikes, are built for the casual cyclist looking for comfort and stability. Trikes are a great choice for someone new to biking, as they don’t require much skill to ride.

The three wheels give the bike a solid, balanced feel—perfect for riders concerned about falling—and some come with gears so you don’t have to worry about getting up hills. However, these bikes aren’t built for speed or off-roading. And thanks to their boxy design, they’re heavier, more difficult to transport and take up more room than a traditional bike.

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Recumbent Bikes

A recumbent bike allows you to cycle in a semi-reclined position, with the bike’s pedals in front of you instead of underneath you. This bike style is a great choice for anyone who needs back or neck support or wants to reduce pressure on their knees. Some recumbent bikes also come equipped with hand cycles instead of traditional foot pedals, so you don’t have to use your legs at all to propel the bike. Because you’re low to the ground, you’re apt to feel more stable. However, that low profile can diminish your visibility to others, so be sure to equip your recumbent bike with a safety flag.

“Recumbent bikes allow you to ride on roads and trails, and because of their extra width, riders notice that drivers give them a much wider pass than they did when they rode a regular bike,” says Williams. Some recumbent bikes can be folded, but they can still be difficult to transport due to their weight.

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