If you’ve been interested in getting a bicycle for exercise or leisure, chances are you’re already aware of how easy it is to get overwhelmed with choices. It seems like there is an infinite number of bikes, each with different features that may or may not be good for seniors.
Fear not! In our guide to the different types of bikes for the elderly, you’ll not only learn about their strengths and weaknesses, but we’ll also help you decide which bike category is perfect for you!
Types of Bikes for the Elderly
Don’t worry, you won’t be riding something that looks like a kid’s tricycle. Three-wheel bikes for seniors do have three wheels, but they’re built with the same quality and style that normal bikes are. The extra wheel in the back provides great stability and lets you exercise with a drastically reduced risk of falls.
These bikes are great for seniors who want to get from A to B or get low-impact exercise but have balance issues or other concerns that make using a regular bike a bad idea. They’re leisurely, simple, and safe - just don’t turn a corner too fast!
The word “recumbent” refers to the position of lying on your back; recumbent bicycles position you that way. You’re reclined, leaning with your back into the seat, with your feet in front of you rather than beneath you. This makes using a recumbent bicycle one of the safest, least impactful forms of exercise for seniors.
These bicycles are low to the ground and may take some time to get used to; however, once you figure it out, you’ll be cruising along without knee pain, balance issues, or back pain!
Sometimes called “stationary” bikes, these are the bikes you’ll always find at the local gym or rec center. Exercise bicycles are made to give people a way to get their heart rate up, as well as strengthen their legs and lungs, without having a high impact on the joints.
If you need a way to stay heart-healthy but have concerns about your bones and joints, an exercise bike is right for you. They have adjustable tension levels that you can use to get the exact amount of resistance that feels comfortable. Many exercise bikes also have programmed exercise routines that simulate the feeling of riding on the road!
Over the last decade, the cycling world has seen a lot of innovation in a new category of bicycle: e-bikes. Powered by lithium batteries and electric motors, e-bikes make it easier than ever to get from place to place. There are two types of e-bikes: “electric assist” and “full-electric”.
Electric-assist bikes will only use the motors while you are actively pedaling, making each push twice as effective- you can ride farther, faster, with less effort.
Full-electric bikes don’t require you to pedal, and speeds are controlled by a throttle on the handlebar. Both types of e-bikes give you an efficient, simple way to travel. They’re especially useful when you need to ride uphill; just pedal like normal and let the motors do all the work!
Comfort bikes are made for leisurely rides on Saturday mornings. They have extra padding in the seat, a frame that doesn’t require the rider to swing their leg up and over, and sit lower than more serious mountain bikes and road bikes. Riding comfort bikes means that you won’t be hitting top speeds or riding on rugged trails, but rather enjoy a nice cruise on a park sidewalk or bike lane.
One great advantage of a comfort bike is the price. Because they’re made for simplicity and comfort instead of performance, they’re usually much more affordable than any other type of bicycle for seniors!
Road bikes are all about performance. They have thin tires, lightweight frames, and many different gears for intense road racing and touring. If you’re a senior who still has a need for speed, a road bike might be the choice for you.
These bikes are expensive and made for expert riders, so seniors with intense medical concerns should avoid them. If you’re still in decent shape and looking for a good way to exercise, though, getting a road bike gives you an exhilarating and adventurous way to stay healthy!
These bikes have a lot in common with comfort bikes, although they have more versatility. Ideal for exercise, running errands, and enjoying the sunshine, cruiser bikes have thick tires and sturdy frames that make them great on any surface. Many cruiser bikes also have a platform over the rear wheel that you can attach a storage basket or even saddle bag to.
If you want a “jack of all trades” bike, we suggest choosing a cruiser bike. They’re affordable, long-lasting, and will do almost anything you ask them to. While they’re not great for high speeds or mountain trails, they can handle just about anything else.
Similar to road bikes in that they are built for performance, mountain bikes are specially designed bikes made to help people withstand the impacts of riding on rocky, steep trails. These bikes are typically heavy and feature suspension on the front and rear wheels. Most seniors will find mountain bikes to be too complicated and heavy for their purposes, but they’re great for those with strong joints and a taste for adventure! (Check out some of bicycle clubs for senior mountain bikers.)
Sometimes referred to as “low-entry” bikes, a step-through bike has a frame that dips in the middle, making it much easier to step into and mount. These bikes don’t force you to hike your leg up over the frame to mount the bike, lowering the risk of hip soreness and injury. If you have hip problems, these bikes are the best for you.
Major Brands of Bikes for Seniors
With a 100-year-plus history, Schwinn is synonymous with cycling. They make bikes of all kinds and all price ranges.
If you need an affordable, dependable bicycle, Schwinn is the way to go. For three-wheel, cruiser, and comfort bikes especially, it is hard to beat Schwinn in terms of price, comfort, and performance!
This manufacturer has a lot in common with Schwinn but is known more for performance and quality than comfort or price. Trek bikes are still fairly priced, but they usually cost several hundred dollars, if not more.
If you are a senior who is in fairly good shape or has more adventurous plans for your bike than afternoon rides, Trek is the best brand for you! They make excellent road bikes, mountain bikes, and “hybrid bikes”, which are very versatile and comfortable.
Aventon makes electric bikes exclusively. They are middle-of-the-road in terms of price (though electric bikes are always expensive), but they outperform their competitors almost 100% of the time. If you want an electric bike that is comfortable, easy to use, and takes you from point A to point B without making a fuss, Aventon bikes are perfect for you!
No matter what your level of fitness or cycling interests, there is a bike that fits your needs. Take care to make sure that you purchase a bike that is a match for you. What type of bike will you choose? Do you have more questions about the specifics of a certain bike category? Feel free to leave your comments below!