Bicycling is a great activity for senior citizens to stay active and healthy. EBikes can help seniors get over challenging hills, manage headwinds, and keep up with the grandkids! If you're a senior citizen considering an eBike, there are some special considerations you should be aware of before buying.
Make sure your feet can reach the ground
The saddle on an eBike should be at an appropriate height for efficient pedaling. It's better for your knees and joints. One some bikes, riders may find that their feet can't reach the ground from the saddle when the saddle is at an appropriate height.
This can be a concern for seniors when starting and stopping, who may prefer to reach the ground with their feet for comfort and control. If this is an issue for you, make sure to select an eBike with a relaxed seat tube angle, such as the Denago City Model 1 line. This design allow you to have the proper leg extension, while reducing the distance to the ground.
More powerful motors are needed when more assistance is needed
EBikes come with a variety of motor options (measured in Watts). The more powerful motors produce more torque, which helps you start from a dead stop, get over hills, and power through headwinds.
If you just want an occasional boost on flat ground, lower-power eBikes (250-350 Watts) may meet your needs.
If you plan to ride on hills, tow your grandchildren in a trailer, or other places where more power is needed, consider an eBike with a 500 Watt motor (or more) instead.
Choose an appropriate speed
Modern eBikes can be designed for a range of top speeds. There's a time and a place for going fast, but many modern eBikes designed for performance may be overkill for casual riders.
It's wise to select an eBike model with an adjustable speed limiter - if your eBike is too fast for you, you can turn down the speed limiter, and the motor will stop running before you reach too high of a speed. Denago's City Model 1 eBike, for example, ships as a Class III eBike capable of 28 MPH, but can be "turned down" if desired for seniors who prefer a slower ride.
Selecting a model with an adjustable stem is an easy way to make your eBike more comfortable. These allow you to vary the angle of the stem, which connects the handlebar to the bicycle frame. Using common hex keys (such a tool is included free with the Denago City Model 1.0 eBike line), the rider can raise or lower the handlebar to suit their preferences.
Consider a step-thru frame style
Step-thru or "low step" bicycle frames aren't just for women, they're ideal for any rider who wants a lower standover height.
Seniors may have poor hip flexibility, making it challenging to throw a leg over the saddle. A step-thru frame allows the rider to simply "step through" the frame when starting and stopping.
Step-thru frames dramatically reduce standover height, so they're also ideal for shorter riders. If you can't comfortably stand over the top tube of a traditional bicycle frame when stopped due to a short inseam, consider a step-thru version as an alternative. Example step-thru eBike.
You may want an eBike with a throttle
EBikes have two modes - pedal assist and throttle. An eBike with pedal assist turns on the electric motor to help you only when you are pedaling. On an eBike equipped with a throttle, in contrast, the electric motor can propel the eBike when the rider is not pedaling - just press or twist to engage the throttle.
EBikes equipped with both pedal assist and a throttle are ideal for seniors. They can be ridden with the motor turned off entirely (for maximum exercise), with the electric motor providing additional assistance while the rider pedals, or on throttle, while the rider is not pedaling.
Throttle eBikes are ideal for riders rehabilitating an injury that prevents them from climbing steep hills. For example, if you've had a knee replacement, you may be able to pedal on flat ground, but not on a steep hill. Just use the throttle on the hill and resume riding normally when you reach the top.