When electric bicycles started hitting the market, some self-proclaimed cycling purists ran their mouths about how it’s not “real” cycling anymore and how they might be dangerous in traffic and on dedicated bike paths. But the numbers, sales figures and safety-related results speak the truth: the popularity of e-bikes is on a steady rise and for all the good reasons. Below you’ll find a basic outline of how beneficial e-bikes might be for a senior (non-)cyclist and a short starter list of recommended models.
First let’s look at the e-bike popularity and how it started. This article reports that between 1995 and 2009, when the first wave of this trend hit, the number of American cyclists aged 60 to 79 rose by 320% and that “the recent boom in electric bicycle technology is creating more opportunities for older Americans to consider biking as a mode of transportation.” Furthermore, it mentions that a certain Seattle-based e-bike company found out that 82% of its customer base fell between the ages of 45 and 84 in 2018. Things have gotten even better since then. A recent Forbes article claims that the majority of adult bikes sold in the Netherlands in 2019 were e-bikes and the newest numbers from last year claim that the “popularity of electric bikes is skyrocketing” by up to 73%, with older riders being the most avid buyers. This is a trend we can get behind.
But there’s much more to this topic than just commuting, riding outdoors or staying fit. Multiple studies (unsurprisingly) prove that loneliness and feelings of abandonment and social isolation decrease the general quality of life, senior citizens being an especially vulnerable group. A study published in Journal of Applied Gerontology, ‘Reducing Isolation and Loneliness Through Membership in a Fitness Program for Older Adults: Implications for Health’, clearly demonstrates the effects increased activity and group participation have on the overall wellbeing and self-rated health. The ideal combination of socialisation and fitness seems to come hand in hand with getting an e-bike.
You don’t have to stress about your abilities or perceived lack of strength, which can bring about fears of being left behind by your riding group or simply not being fit enough and having the stamina to keep up or to commute your daily route – which may further result in feelings of shame, one of humanity’s strongest deterrents. E-bikes are great at tackling the aforementioned, as demonstrated in the informative short video by this gentleman here, including how good it feels when you meet riders a third your age on an uphill climb and, to their bewilderment, “just pass them up and leave their a** in the grass.”
E-bikes offer the agility and urban fast travel efficiency cars in a traffic jam can only dream of – on top of being nearly as environmentally impact-free as a conventional bicycle (if you dispose of the batteries properly). Also, the proportion of people who stop driving increases after the age of 65 for various health- and confidence-related reasons, so an e-bike might prove to be more user-friendly and still provide them with a reasonable means to get about. But don’t think you have to wait until retirement – you can be a 50+ person who enjoys being active, be it sports, walks, sightseeing or hobbies and you might want to pick up something new or to start commuting in a healthier, more sustainable way. To touch all bases, we’ve prepared this short and easy introductory video in collaboration with Škoda on how to approach your outdoor trips on an e-bike to enjoy them to the fullest.
Below you’ll find a short overview of models and recommendations – this is by no means an exhaustive list. Your local bicycle shop should be more than happy to help you to determine which kind of frame and type of bicycle best suits your needs. If they provide bike-fitting services, then even better.
For the lifelong urbanite
Firstly, it’s important to identify what kind of activity you would like to use your e-bike for. This can be roughly divided into urban and outdoor use. Let’s look at the first one.
You might want to get an e-bike to help you with getting to and from work, to do some shopping or meet with friends and family. And, of course, to improve your fitness and time spent outside. Step-through, low-step or open frames are perfect for senior citizens or people with leg mobility issues as they make it easy for them to mount and dismount. They also look Copenhagen-cool. If your apartment or workplace has limited storage space, you can consider getting a folding electric bike. Also always look for fenders and puncture-resistant tyres.
e-JOE 2015 ANGGUN 3.0
Chain protector, fenders, flowing design and an intelligent electric pedal-assist system make this bike a commuter to rely on.
B’TWIN Tilt 500 Folding Electric Bike
The Tilt 500 E-Bike takes up little space and folds up in 30 seconds. It has six speeds and electric assistance that’s controlled by your pedalling input to help you go further for longer.
Carrera Crosscity Folding Electric Bike
Another folding bike AND an electric bike rolled into one. This is the urban commuter’s dream. House to train station – train station to office without annoying your fellow travellers.
This Voltbike might look a tad intimidating, but it’s perfect for more demanding or hilly commutes and can handle even a bit of an off-road adventure. Its lightweight aluminium step-through frame offers great handling and versatility.
EVRYjourney 500W 7 Speed Electric Hybrid Bicycle
If you need more clarification and a walk-through explanation of what to look for in e-bicycles for older riders, look no further than this educational video by the CEO of sixthreezero bicycle company that makes some amazing rides. “It’s simple, we want to get as many people pedalling as possible.” What a noble mission. We’ve picked this gorgeous and refined EVRYjourney 500W urban cruiser.
For the off-road inclined
Electric bikes, especially their more “outdoor” adaptations, can prove to be somewhat on the heavier side, which is mainly caused by the sturdier frame and the battery it has to fit. An e-bike can range anywhere between 13 and 43 kg, with the most usual median being 20 kg. If you enjoy taking your bike on nature trips, be it on tarmac or dirt, a car with a back-door rack might come in handy as lifting it on the roof might be difficult. The proper handling and use of an e-bike has been shown in the above-mentioned video, starring Škoda KAMIQ, an urban crossover.
Coboc TEN Merano
No need to stop where the tarmac ends. Equipped with eleven gears, a lighting system, wide tyres, drop bars and optionally with mudguards and a rack, the TEN Merano e-bike balances between a comfortable everyday bike and a sporty gravel bike.
CRUSSIS e-Gordo 7.5-S
This smart designer beauty will become your best pal for long, enjoyable bike trips. With sporty decals and frame with an integrated battery, this beast won’t be overlooked on any road.
Looking even sturdier and more motorcycle-like than the CRUSSIS, the Voltbike Outback is the choice for the trail-loving connoisseur! This Outback is the perfect entry-level electric mountain bike for anyone who likes to exercise off-road or travel around town in comfort.
Giant Explore E+ 1 Stagger Frame Electric Bike
This solid piece is one of the brand’s “adventure” bicycles. Its powerful and tuneable SyncDrive Sport motor and integrated EnergyPak provide a smooth, seamless boost of power so you can cover greater distances and conquer steep climbs, and the frame can fit multiple panniers for supplies on longer trips.
Nowadays, there’s an electrified version of any kind of bike, so no matter whether you enjoy the road, cobblestones, gravel or tarmac, you should be able to find what you’re looking for with a Google session or by asking around in bike shops. Activity and fitness improvement in general, no matter what’s assisting them, can lead to a better self-image, and confidence and mood boost. And those who’ll still snarl at e-bike riders? Just leave them in the dust.