#1 Ride1Up 700 Series$1,555.00100/100?
17 reasons to buy
- The 700 Series comes fitted with integrated front and rear lights.
- The 700 Series comes fitted with hardened alloy fenders, front and rear.
4 reasons not to buy
- Under hill-climbing tests, the 700 Series underwhelmed some reviewers.
- Reviewers describe assembly of the 700 Series as “involved and time-consuming”.
#2 Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0$3,249.99100/100?
19 reasons to buy
- The Vado 4.0 is available in 4 sizes: S,M,L & XL.
- Experts are awed by the Vado’s balanced on-road handling.
3 reasons not to buy
- The Turbo Vado 4.0 pedigree demands a higher price.
- Two testers say the charger is fiddly to seat when charging on the bike.
#3 Specialized Turbo Creo SL$4,499.99100/100?
19 reasons to buy
- Test-riders say the Creo SL accelerates rapidly.
- SL stands for ‘superlight’. Reviewers can confirm.
4 reasons not to buy
- Turbo Creo SL price-points range from expensive to ‘outrageous’.
- Three testers mentioned that the Creo SL’s motor is noisy at speed.
#4 Vvolt Alpha S$999.00100/100?
21 reasons to buy
- The Alpha S arrives 97% assembled!
- Rechargeable front and rear lights are included.
2 reasons not to buy
- Front and rear lights are not integrated.
- This is a single-speed e-bike. Fast riders may spin-out on flat roads while mountain-dwellers could find themselves at a loss for lower climbing gears.
#5 Gazelle Medeo T10+$3,098.95100/100?
15 reasons to buy
- A chainguard and robust Ursus kickstand are included with the Medeo.
- A tester reports 60 miles of range in Eco Mode and almost 20 miles in Turbo.
3 reasons not to buy
- Because it is high-end, the Medeo T10+ HMB is not cheap.
- A reviewer was not impressed by the Medeo T10+ HMB color options.
#6 Ride1Up Rift$1,855.00100/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Testers say the Rift is comfortable to ride.
- Testers say the Rift climbs steep hills easily.
10 reasons not to buy
- One buyer received no pedals or charger and a damaged bolt.
- One reviewer cites cargo limits placed by the lack of front-end mounts.
#7 Aventon Abound$1,799.0099/100?
19 reasons to buy
- Footboards and wheelguards protect the legs of child passengers.
- Reviewers say the 50mm Suntour suspension fork alleviates judder.
7 reasons not to buy
- Testers say the Abound’s cabling is unruly and could become snagged.
- One expert notes the Abound has an “uncomfortably wide” pedal position.
#8 Rad Power RadTrike$1,899.0099/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Testers say it fits through household doorways.
- With a low standover height, its easy to mount and dismount.
8 reasons not to buy
- The RadTrike’s top speed is 14 mph.
- At 82 lb with a steel frame, the RadTrike is heavy.
#9 Electric Bike Company Model S$2,299.0098/100?
15 reasons to buy
- The Model S can carry a maximum payload of 380lb.
- The single-speed drivetrain is simple and durable.
10 reasons not to buy
- The Model S has no bottle bosses.
- The Model S frame is one-size-fits-all.
#10 Electric Bike Company Model E$1,399.0097/100?
17 reasons to buy
- Integrated lighting is included, with dual lights at the rear.
- A steel fork dampens jounce-induced vibration over rickety roads.
9 reasons not to buy
- This bike doesn't have a rack, fenders, or bottle cage mounts.
- Customizing the Model E to your taste and needs can be pricey.
#11 Specialized Turbo Como IGH$2,499.9997/100?
21 reasons to buy
- Specialized’s 4 amp fast-charger charges the Como IGH in 4 hours.
- Reviewers say the Como IGH’s color display is intuitive and easy to use.
4 reasons not to buy
- A couple of testers felt that removing the Como IGH’s battery is fiddly.
- Specialized’s proprietary bar/stem combo is not easy to replace or upgrade.
#12 Ride1Up LMT’D$1,655.0097/100?
18 reasons to buy
- The Ride1Up LMT’D is sold with a kickstand.
- Some testers believe the LMT’D is suited to off-road pursuits.
4 reasons not to buy
- An expert sees the LMT’D’s finish and appearance as lackluster.
- The Ride1Up LMT’D is sold without a rear light, fenders or a rack.
#13 Ride1Up Prodigy$2,355.0097/100?
16 reasons to buy
- Alloy fenders come standard on Prodigies XR and ST.
- Pundits believe the Prodigy is competitively-priced.
9 reasons not to buy
- Brose’s Allround display is quite small.
- Each Prodigy is available in only one size.
#14 Aventon Pace 500.3$1,599.0096/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Testers found the Pace 500.3 climbs steep hills easily.
- Reviewers like that the Pace 500.3 has Class 3 capability.
9 reasons not to buy
- Owners and testers say the 500.3’s paintwork is easily marked.
- Reviewers note the significant price increase compared to the Pace 500.2.
#15 Specialized Globe Haul ST$2,800.0096/100?
17 reasons to buy
- This is a Class 3 e-bike that can reach a maximum of 28 mph.
- Reviewers say there’s plenty of range in microSHIFT’s 11-36t 9-speed drivetrain.
6 reasons not to buy
- A throttle is not included‽ It’s aftermarket.
- A tester says the proprietary panniers can rattle on rough roads.
#16 Tern GSD$4,999.00968 reviews
#17 Aventon Sinch$1,399.009617 reviews
#18 Velotric Nomad 1$1,487.079612 reviews
#19 Heybike Cityrun$1,299.009694 reviews
#20 Priority Current$3,299.009537 reviews
#21 Electric Bike Company Model R$2,399.0095151 reviews
#22 Rambo The Bushwacker$4,299.9995106 reviews
#23 Rad Power RadRunner 3 Plus$2,299.009516 reviews
#24 Cannondale Adventure Neo$2,249.999446 reviews
#25 Velowave Prado S$1,099.0094132 reviews
#26 Gazelle Arroyo C8 HMB Elite$2,774.57946 reviews
#27 Rad Power RadRover 6 Plus Step-Thru$2,099.009313 reviews
#28 Electric Bike Company Model Y$1,899.009360 reviews
#29 Aventon Aventure.2$1,799.009324 reviews
#30 Flyer M880$1,799.009312 reviews
#31 ENGWE EP-2 Pro$839.0092456 reviews
#32 Cannondale Treadwell Neo$1,499.999134 reviews
#33 Flyer L885$1,999.00913 reviews
#34 Lectric XPremium$1,599.00915 reviews
#35 Rambo The Pursuit$2,299.999143 reviews
#36 Aventon Level.2 Step-Through$1,699.00911 reviews
#37 Heybike Mars$889.0091608 reviews
#38 Rad Power RadRunner Plus$1,799.009133 reviews
#39 Velotric Discover 1$1,301.07919 reviews
#40 Gazelle Medeo T9$2,298.959037 reviews
#41 Aventon Sinch Step-Through$1,499.00907 reviews
#42 Rambo The Rooster$1,699.999018 reviews
#43 Aventon Sinch.2$1,499.00901 reviews
#44 Cannondale Topstone Neo Lefty$6,350.00901 reviews
#45 Buzz Cerana$721.65904 reviews
#46 Gazelle Ultimate C380$3,598.959077 reviews
#47 Magnum Metro$1,899.00905 reviews
#48 Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus$1,999.00904 reviews
#49 Electra Townie Go! 5i EQ$2,950.009025 reviews
#50 Addmotor E-43 CityPro$1,299.00893 reviews
#51 Co-op Cycles Generation e1.1$1,199.938945 reviews
#52 Blix Dubbel$1,899.00892 reviews
#53 Addmotor M-330 P7$2,659.058816 reviews
#54 Addmotor M-81$1,599.00881 reviews
#55 Denago City Model 2$1,399.00881 reviews
#56 Specialized Turbo Como SL$1,999.998815 reviews
#57 Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru$1,999.00873 reviews
#58 Rad Power RadRunner 2$1,249.00873 reviews
#59 Marin Sausalito$1,899.948712 reviews
#60 Buzz Centris$722.49874 reviews
The BikeRide Guide to Choosing the Best Electric Bikes for Seniors
Cycling is for everyone. It’s a low-impact activity that places minimal pressure on the body’s joints, compared to sports such as jogging and mixed martial arts. Low-to-moderate intensity cycling is recommended by physicians and physiotherapists as a means of physical rehabilitation.
In later years, cycling presents multiple health benefits. These include:
- Maintaining fitness, flexibility and mobility.
- Maintaining healthy cardiovascular activity.
- A proven ability to reduce a number of risk factors that contribute to cancer.
- Maintaining, enhancing and improving coordination.
- Increasing exposure to fresh air.
- Providing a social aspect via group rides.
E-bikes allow seniors to:
- Choose a level of engagement and exercise, with more or less pedal input.
- Get a boost from a dead stop.
- Carry more cargo.
- Conquer steep climbs and cross challenging terrains.
- Ride further.
- Keep up with younger riders and family members.
- Get home on electric power, even if a rider feels exhausted.
- Continue cycling, even if they are unable to ride a pedal bike.
- Ride heavier and/or less-efficient bikes (cargo bikes, fatbikes, and cruisers).
There are a number of specific features to look for when choosing the best electric seniors bike to suit your needs.
Step-Through and Low-Step Frames
These bikes have a low-slung frame without a high top-tube. They’re easy to mount and dismount, as you ‘step-through’ your frame, rather than lifting your leg up high to straddle your bike’s top-tube.
These frame styles also make it much easier to place your feet flat on the ground when you are coming to a stop. You can easily dismount forward from your saddle, without the threat of that top-tube striking your groin.
On a stepover bike, a rider needs to lean to one side to place only one foot on the ground, when coming to a stop. With a suitably low seat height and a step-through frame, you should be able to place both feet on the road.
A ‘Step-Through’ frame has a low top-tube or a single, thick downtube. They are easy to mount and dismount.
‘Low-Step’ or ‘Low Entry’ frames are ultra-low, for super-easy mounting and dismounting. They are specifically designed for older riders and riders with reduced flexibility.
An Upright Riding Position
Many seniors will be comfortable on a bike that places them in an upright position. Some lifelong cyclists continue to ride sportier e-bikes in later years, but these place the rider in a leant-forward position.
This is not the ride position offered by many casual, urban, comfort and senior-specific bikes. These bikes have a lower seat height and higher handlebars. Ideally, the pedals will be positioned forward of the rider’s seated position to match the body’s natural ergonomics.
The benefits of an upright ride position are multiple:
- A straighter back, with no need to lean forward.
- Enhanced visibility, especially in traffic.
- A lower seating position, increasing stability and making it easier to dismount and stop.
- A more comfortable ride at casual and lower speeds.
Gear shifting should be comfortable without inducing strain. These set-ups deliver low-impact gear shifting:
Light-Action Trigger Shifters:
These can be operated without strain, using the thumb and/or fingers.
These resemble the throttle of a motorcycle and are operated by twisting the shifter toward or away from yourself. Grip shifters use the whole hand to change gears.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Disc brakes come in two varieties; mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical disc brakes are operated via cables. Hydraulic brakes use a fluid run through a hose. This creates pressure to actuate caliper/s that squeeze brake pads against rotors.
Because e-bikes are significantly heavier than pedal-only bikes, it takes more power to stop them. Hydraulic brakes offer superior power to mechanical brakes, while requiring less hand strength. They also perform much better than any other type of brake in wet weather.
Mechanical disc brakes are easier to repair and maintain in a D.I.Y. capacity, making them suited to riders who travel in remote areas. They are also cheaper than hydraulics, so they still have their fans (mostly among non-electric cyclists).
For e-bikes, experts always recommend hydraulic disc brakes: more power, less effort, no-brainer. Choose an e-bike with hydraulic disc brakes, if you can afford it. The price has been descending in recent years.
Avoid rim and drum brakes, as these are often too weak to safely stop a heavy e‑bike.
Some considerate manufacturers equip their e-bikes with short-reach brakes. These require less hand extension when braking, which can relieve repetitive strain.
At the least, aim for a bike with brake levers that offer adequate adjustment. Levers should sit between ¹³⁄₁₆” (for smaller or less-flexible hands) and 1⁹⁄₁₆” (for larger hands) away from your handlebar when open.
In addition to a low standover height, there are a number of factors relating to frame geometry, that make an e-bike more suited to use by senior riders.
A stable bike is safer, more maneuverable, and easier to mount and dismount. Senior-specific bikes achieve increased stability in these ways:
Lower Center of Gravity
This is thanks to a lower seat height and a lower bottom-bracket clearance. This increases balance and makes it easier to set one or two feet on the ground.
During off-road cycling, excessively low clearance can result in your pedals or bottom-bracket striking rocks. So your stable, urban bike might not be suited to off-road riding.
Fork Rake and Handling
An e-bike with relaxed fork ‘rake’ is optimal for everyday riding. This refers to a fork that is angled forward from the bike’s headset. If it’s close to vertical, handling will be twitchy and rapid. This suits a race bike, but not your everyday trundle.
Beach cruiser bikes are fitted with a fork that is significantly angled or curved, placing the front wheel well ahead of the handlebars. While this may seem casual and relaxed, it makes for slow handling that can feel cumbersome.
In general, cruisers are also more difficult to pedal for longer periods. They suit shorter rides over flat terrain.
Wheel Size and Rim Width
Smaller wheels accelerate faster than larger wheels. But once larger wheels reach higher speeds, they maintain velocity for longer with less rider input required. They are also more comfortable over chattery roads, as they glide over smaller bumps. Larger wheels are considered 26” and above.
Smaller wheels accelerate rapidly and can be nimble. However, your e-bike’s motor must work harder and chew up more battery than bigger-wheel bikes, in order to maintain speeds. They transmit vibration easily, although this can be alleviated by wider tires set to lower pressures.
Depending on your e-bike’s geometry, smaller wheels can provide handling that is either nimble and agile, or sketchy and unnerving. Smaller wheels are 24”, 20” and below.
Small wheels may be used to lower a bike’s center of gravity, increase stability and reduce standover height (making it easier to mount and dismount). This is common with cargo bikes.
Moderate-to-fat width tires make more contact with the road surface, increasing a bike’s stability and grip. They also absorb bumps and reduce vibration over rougher roads.
But fatter ain’t always better. Fat tires and fat wheels are heavy. They increase traction and inertia, making it harder to propel your bike from a dead stop.
To achieve a fatbike’s chainline, the bike’s cranks must be placed further apart than usual. This may place stress on riders’ hips and knees, as it forces them to sit further apart.
For most uses, moderately wide tires are optimal.
Moderate-width varies, depending on whether you ride purely on-road, a mix of surfaces, or mostly off-road.
In general, e-bike tires are wider than non-electric bike tires, to maintain stability at higher speeds. For recreational riding, tires will ride comfortably at 32mm to 2.4” wide. Narrower tires are better suited to lighter e-bikes.
Gnarly mountain bikes require rubber up to 2.8” wide. If you ride specifically (or mostly) on snow, sand or mud, then fat tires are for you. Fat tires are considered roughly 3.0” and wider, with most between 3.0” and 4.0”, but options exist up to 5.0” wide! They’ll provide the flotation required to traverse soft surfaces.
If you find a bike you like, and it’s fitted with narrower or wider tires than what is optimal, you can always replace them if the bike has sufficient tire clearance.
When it comes to casual and recreational riding, the best seniors’ electric bikes feature handlebars that aid an upright ride position. They are positioned relatively close to the rider and do not force you to lean forward.
Many handlebars have a ‘sweep’ to them, meaning that curve toward the rider. This suits an upright stance and positions the wrists at an ergonomic angle.
Some seniors’ bikes are fitted with shorter-than-average cranks. This places the pedals closer to each other, reducing the requirement for riders’ hips to move at uncomfortable angles.
A dropper seatpost allows you to lower or raise your seatpost to switch between two seat heights, with the flick of a handlebar-mounted lever.
This will give you the advantage of being able to quickly move between a higher, more efficient or sporty ride position and a lower, more stable height for dismounting or coming to a stop.
There are two main types of e-bike motor, each with their own distinctive characteristics.
1. Hub Motors
On modern e-bikes, the hub motor is almost always in the rear wheel. Front wheel hub motors used to be prevalent, but are now unpopular for valid reasons.
- The more affordable option.
- May provide a ‘boosty’ feel, with a sudden surge of power.
- Less active pedaling required.
- Less wear on your e-bike’s drivetrain.
- May feature a throttle that can be activated without pedaling
(making it easier to take off from a dead stop).
- Can be jolty and jerky when applying throttle or pedal assistance.
- Can delay activation or withdrawal of motor assistance, which can be dangerous:
- …when trying to stop suddenly and safely.
- …when attempting to take off with traffic.
- Most of the e-bike’s weight is at the rear of the bike
(including you, your motor and your rear-rack-mounted cargo).
Avoid e-bikes with a hub motor in the front wheel, unless it’s a tricycle. Front-wheel hub motor e-bikes can ‘spin-out’ when taking off or when turning on wet surfaces, leading to a crash.
A front-wheel hub motor can compensate for the rear-heavy weight of a trike and, because of their stability, trikes are less affected by front-wheel spin-outs.
2. Mid-Drive Motors
Mid-drive motors sit between the cranks of your e-bike. They make use of your bike’s drivetrain and are a choice for riders who still like to pedal. They do employ a torque sensor, which provides smoother, more accurate motor assistance than the cadence sensor on a hub motor e-bike.
To maintain a level fitness when e-biking, a mid-drive motor e-bike is the best option.
- Delivers assistance gradually and smoothly.
- More efficient than a hub motor, especially one with a cadence sensor…
- …resulting in more range.
- Centered and stable weight distribution.
- Uses your entire drivetrain and gear range.
- A natural feel while pedaling.
- Usually more expensive than a hub motor e-bike.
- Wears harder on your drivetrain components.
- Often, mid-drive e-bikes do not feature a throttle.
- On throttle-free models, you’ll need to contribute pedal power on take-offs and climbs.
Cadence vs. Torque Sensor
Both Hub and Mid-Drive motor e-bikes can be fitted with either a torque sensor or a cadence sensor. Your sensor is responsible for measuring your pedal input and applying (or withdrawing) pedal assist accordingly.
For a superior ride feel and smooth application of assistance, seek out an e-bike with a torque sensor. Any delay in the application or withdrawal of electric pedal assistance is reduced. Their increased efficiency results in less battery use and a longer range.
All new mid-drive e-bikes are equipped with a torque sensor, and an increasing number of new hub-motor e-bikes are being fitted with them.
Most, but not all, hub-motor e-bikes are equipped with a cadence sensor. Cadence sensors can be jerky or jolting and may result in a delay when applying or cutting off motor assistance.
Casual and everyday electric seniors’ bikes may be thoughtfully equipped with a lower-than-average gear range, to make pedaling easier. Besides supplementing reduced muscle mass, a lower gear range makes it easier to climb hills and to take off from a dead stop.
Even on an electric bike, it’s beneficial to have a wide gear range. Otherwise, you could find yourself constantly moving from zero-to-whoa and back again, in seconds. With a limited gear range, you will also be relying more on your e-bike’s motor and throttle, leading to reduced battery life. Look for e-bikes with a seven-speed cassette, at a minimum.
While it’s important to have a good number of gears, the spread of gears is probably even more important. This refers to the difference between the number of teeth of your smallest and largest cogs on your rear cassette. Cassette specs list this as ‘14-28’, ‘10-24T’, ‘12-32T’, ‘11-46T’ etc. In this example, the 11-46T has the widest gear range and the potential for the lowest gearing (due to the large 46T cog). Many manufacturers of mid and low-end direct-sale e-bikes will not list these details in their specifications.
Fitting a smaller chainring is another easy way to lower a bike’s gear range. You can look for a new e-bike with a smaller chainring fitted, or you or your bike mechanic could fit one aftermarket.
New seniors’ e-bike models may or may not be sold with included racks, baskets or even panniers. Before choosing a bike for yourself, it’s wise to consider how much cargo you will be regularly toting on your rides. This requirement could define the type of bike you buy.
Ways of Carrying Cargo
If you want to use panniers, you’ll need a rack. Unless you are riding long distance or camping, this usually means one to two panniers on a rear rack. For more gear, you may seek a front rack to support one or two front panniers.
If this is a priority, look for an e-bike with an included rear rack. Buying one as part of a ‘package’ may present a good value.
If you find your dream bike and it comes rackless, make sure that this bike’s frame has eyelets or bosses available to securely fit an aftermarket rack (or two).
To carry a small amount of belongings, you might be happy with a handlebar bag. These strap to a bike’s handlebars, often without any need for a rack or ‘cradle’. They’re accessible and easy to attach or detach.
If you can’t or don’t want to fit a rear rack, you might look to a seat/saddle bag. These strap to your seatpost and saddle. They come in a variety of sizes and are usually waterproof. Compared to panniers, they are more fiddly to attach, detach, load and unpack. They are best suited to lightweight bikepacking.
Frame bags occupy part or all of the main triangle of your bike’s frame. Some manufacturers sell frame bags to fit specific models. If you can’t find one of these, you’ll need to search for a good fit or have a bag custom made. The benefit of a frame bag is that your cargo is centered on your bike, providing more stability when loaded up.
The downsides include; being hard to find a good fit, being fiddly to attach or remove, and taking up available water bottle space.
Baskets can be attached to a front or rear rack. They provide an easy non-detachable cargo carrying solution. However, they place weight higher up on your bike and lift your center of gravity, making you less stable.
On a tricycle, a rear basket is usually placed low-down between your rear wheels, increasing your stability by lowering your center of gravity. Rear tricycle baskets are usually quite roomy too. You may consider a tricycle if you use your bike for shopping trips.
Objects can bounce around – and even out of – any basket. So you’ll have to secure your belongings.
If you regularly carry heavy loads, large objects or passengers, you will want to consider a purpose-built electric cargo bike. Good examples are built to accommodate a long rear rack. They should be able to fit a variety of panniers, passenger cushions and/or child seats.
Quality electric cargo bikes are built tough to haul ample weight. They should also be fitted with a motor that puts out plenty of torque. Look for 80Nm of torque, at minimum, to help you and your cargo:
- Get going from a dead stop
- Climb steep hills.
- Travel at decent speeds.
The Benefits of On-Bike Cargo-Carrying Systems
Why should you prioritize carrying weight on your bike, rather than on your body?
Backpacks, hip packs and fanny packs are easy to strap on and go, but when they’re full they can place stress on muscles and joints while inducing friction and increasing perspiration. If your bike has an electric motor, let it be your packhorse.
If you are parking your bike in a public area, you’ll probably need to lock it up. For locking up an e-bike, you’re going to want something heavy-duty to protect your investment. This usually means carrying one or even two U-locks. These are secure but heavy, and can be up to twelve inches long. So consider where and how you’ll carry your lock/s whilst e-biking.
Optimal Weight for a Seniors’ E-Bike
With a motor and battery, e-bikes obviously weigh more than regular pedal bikes. The best electric bikes for seniors weigh 60 lb or less. Anything below 40 lb can be considered lightweight.
A lighter bike is:
- Easier to ride, especially when using pedal assist.
- Able to rely on less motor power to propel it.
- Drawing less battery to feed the motor.
- Easier to lift (onto a car-mounted bike carrier, up stairs etc.)
- Easier to carry.
- Easier to push on-foot.
- Easier to get moving from a dead stop.
- Easier to climb hills on.
Some types of e-bike will always be heavier. Which e-bike types carry extra weight – and why?
- Overbuilt to carry heavy loads.
- Often have long frames to fit longer racks.
- Are often fit with bigger motors and batteries to provide more torque.
- Three wheels are heavier than two.
- Tricycle frames use more metal and parts than bicycles.
- Tricycle drivetrains are usually heavier and often more complex than bicycle drivetrains.
- Bulky, heavy frames.
- Large, heavily-padded seats.
- Fat tires.
- Wide rims.
- Built for a less-active and less-engaged ride style requiring less pedaling.
- Larger motors and batteries are used to overcome a moped’s weight.
- Front and/or rear suspension adds weight.
- Frames are robust and therefore, heavy.
- Tires are fat and heavy.
- Rims are wide, robust and weighty.
- Front and rear suspension adds weight.
- No pedals are available. The motor and battery must be large to enough to provide all of an e-motorcycle’s power.
Off-Road Bikes and Electric Mountain Bikes (E-MTBs)
- Heavier, more robust frames.
- Wider tires on wider rims.
- Front and/or rear suspension adds weight.
Fat Tire Bikes aka ‘Fatbikes’
- Wide, heavy tires with increased traction and inertia.
- Wide, heavy rims to support wide, heavy tires.
- Frames that are overbuilt, bulky, and heavy.
- Front (and occasionally rear) suspension adds weight.
Of course, e-bikes are equipped with a motor, which can overcome their extra weight. However, a heavier e-bike needs a larger, more powerful (and therefore heavier) motor to overcome that extra weight. As this motor gets more powerful, it becomes heavier – and the accompanying battery also increases in size and weight. You see where this is going, right? In circles…
For this reason, some modern manufacturers focus on a different strategy. They create streamlined models with mid-weight frames, moderate-width tires, smaller motors, and mid-sized batteries. With less overall bike weight, a lighter and smaller motor and battery can provide as much support and range as a fatbike with a big motor and battery.
This situation is comparable to your choice of car or vehicle for daily driving. If you live and cycle in urban or suburban areas, choosing a fatbike is like opting for a 4 × 4, even though you’re unlikely to head off-road.
Heavy, fat-tire e-bikes are very common and they are often promoted for daily use as commuter bikes suited to casual rides. At first, they appear strong, powerful and comfortable — and they can be all these things. However, many riders find out that these bikes are heavy, cumbersome, demanding on battery power, difficult to pedal unpowered, and a real burden to lift, carry or push.
If you think you’ll be walking alongside your e-bike at times, seek out a model that features a ‘walk-assist’ option. This is a mild assist level that provides a little power to help you walk your bike up hills or when fully loaded.
Do you need suspension on your e-bike? If you are unable to shift your weight when rolling over bumps, cracks and holes, then yes, you can benefit from suspension.
Many e-bike buyers assume that a suspension fork is essential, regardless of where or how one rides. This is not so. There are situations where suspension can be a drawback. On low-end bikes, suspension is usually heavy. In addition, it can be spongy. This means that it will soak up a fair amount of your pedal power, as you bounce along.
Cheap suspension forks also offer limited adjustability, which can result in reduced efficiency or excessive stiffness:
Do You Need Suspension?
Many e-bike riders spend most of their time on pavement, roads, grass, light gravel and maybe some hardpack dirt. For these terrains, you can ride comfortably without suspension.
Tires as Suspension
You can run moderate-width and fat tires at lower pressures than is possible with skinny road tires. At optimum pressures, they will easily absorb vibrations and feedback from the kind of bumps you are likely to encounter in urban areas. Your bike will be lighter and easier to pedal without a suspension fork.
I Need Suspension!
OK, so you regularly ride on rocky or uneven terrain. Maybe your commute is raucous. In this case, buy the e-bike with the most adjustable suspension fork you can afford. A ‘lockout’ switch is desirable, as this essentially turns your suspension fork into a rigid fork, which increases efficiency when climbing hills and riding on level ground.
Remember that wide and fat tires are a form of suspension in and of themselves. The combination of fat tires and suspension is overkill for most riders.
Only consider full suspension (both front and rear), if you plan on heading off-road on frequent mountain-biking expeditions. Keep in mind that true electric mountain bikes are expensive. If you spot an ‘affordable’ full-suspension electric mountain bike, look again. Most low-end full-suspension e-MTBs are heavy, with underperforming suspension components.
Sometimes, simpler is better — while also being lighter and higher quality.
Your value-for-money can be increased by buying a bike that already includes useful accessories. They are worth considering in your e-bike budget.
Racks, Baskets and Other Cargo-Carrying Solutions
Many new e-bikes come equipped with a rear rack, which is all that many riders require. Another consideration is the ability to attach a front rack. Some e-bikes don’t have this capability. Others have sturdy mounts to attach a capable front rack.
Always take note of the total carrying capacity (aka ‘payload’) of any potential e-bike purchase. This varies a lot between models. Most manufacturers will state this figure.
Some bikes include lights. The best electric bikes for seniors will include integrated lights. These run off your bike’s main battery and are operated via your control/display unit. They don’t require replaceable batteries and are often brighter than removable options.
Lights are essential for nighttime riding and can also increase your daytime visibility in fog, low light conditions and heavy traffic.
If you don’t choose an e-bike with integrated lights, there are many powerful, high-quality aftermarket lighting options.
You don’t miss fenders until you really need them. When the rain comes down and the streets are wet, they’re essential. Fenders keep the slosh from flicking up onto your clothes and cargo.
A number of bikes come with both fenders included. These vary in material, quality, weight and durability. Plastic, aluminum and steel options all exist. Some bikes come with only one fender.
Look for full coverage fenders that will truly protect you from the wet. These cover most of your front and rear tires and stop backwash from spitting up toward you.
Kickstands are included with many new e-bikes. They make it easier to park your bike without having to lean it against an object. They are especially useful for shopping stops and when your bike is loaded down with cargo.
There are some important factors to consider around owning and using an e-bike, as opposed to a traditional pedal bike.
E-Bikes Are Heavier Than Pedal Bikes
You may need somewhere secure to park your bike at ground level, if it’s too heavy for you to lift. E-bikes attract thieves because of their value. Alternatively, you can choose a lightweight e-bike that you are able to lift up stairs or onto a car rack.
On most new e-bikes, the battery can be removed. This allows you to take it indoors for charging, separately from your bike (which you can park at ground level, in your garage or even outdoors). Some new e-bikes are still sold with non-removable batteries.
Charge Port Locations
On some bikes, the charging port is located in an awkward-to-reach location that can require bending to reach beneath the bike’s frame. On others, the port is fiddly and difficult to open or close. Read expert and user reviews to get an idea of how easy the charging port is to use, on your prospective purchase.
Step-Through and Low-Step E-Bikes
These terms don’t strictly refer to a ‘type’ of e-bike, but more accurately, they refer to a certain ‘frame shape’ that’s easier to mount and dismount without exertion. They also make it easier to place your feet on the ground when stopping or in an emergency.
Low-step and step-through frames are available on:
- Commuter, Comfort, Recreational and Hybrid e-bikes
- Off-Road e-bikes
- Hunting e-bikes
Electric Adult Tricycles
Two Rear Wheels: Delta Trikes
‘Delta’ tricycles have two wheels in the rear and one up front. This is, by far, the most common type of tricycle. They have a tight turn circle. Including the rider, weight is centered over the rear of a delta trike.
Two Front Wheels: Tadpole Trikes
‘Tadpole’ tricycles have two wheels up front and one in the rear. This makes them more stable but less agile than delta trikes. On tadpole trikes, weight is more evenly distributed than on a delta design.
- Adult tricycles are more stable than bicycles at low speeds, when riding in a straight line.
- Less balance is required when stopping, starting and when immobile.
- Luggage can be easily carried, placed and removed in a rear basket.
- Most tricycles are easy to mount and dismount.
- Trikes stay upright when parked, without having to lean them or use a kickstand.
- You don’t have to dismount or put your foot down, when coming to a stop.
- You can’t lean into turns. Cornering must be performed at slower speeds than on a bicycle.
- Tricycles take up more storage room than bicycles.
- They are substantially heavier than electric bicycles, making them difficult to lift and transport.
Things to Consider
- Riding and steering are usually slower with a tricycle, than with a bicycle.
- Gearing ranges should be:
- Low enough to match riding at these slower speeds.
- Wide enough to allow less pedal effort, compensating for the trike’s extra weight.
- Parking Brake:
- Tricycles are heavy, especially when loaded with groceries, hardware supplies or pets. If you’re parking on a slope, you’ll need a secure parking brake.
Recumbent bikes have a fan-base all of their own. Many full-length articles have been written about them. While they can have two, three or even four wheels, most riders opt for a three-wheel model.
- A very ergonomic seating position.
- A real seat is easier on the groin and posterior.
- Recumbent seats provide a full backrest.
- Pedals are set far forward, creating an ergonomic pedaling position.
- You must stand up and recline when mounting and dismounting.
- Recumbents can be below the eye-line of drivers, compromising your on-road safety.
Things to Consider
High-quality electric recumbents are still a specialist item, made in low production numbers by specialist manufacturers. As such, new models can cost many thousands of dollars.
With age, our exercise habits change and evolve. The body performs differently, leading us to become aware of new and different cycling needs.
Some seniors continue to ride a road or mountain bike, but move to a model that offers electric support. For others, it’s the beginning of a new phase – and it’s one that gives you an excuse to dive in and buy a whole new type of bike.
Shop wisely, choose astutely, ride comfortably, and roll on…
- See our reviews and guide to Electric Bikes.
- See our reviews and guide to all types of Seniors’ Bikes.
- Have questions about which bike to choose? Ask in our Forum.
- Want to win a bike instead of buying one? See our bike Giveaway.
- Find out more about BikeRide.
- H. Komatsu, K. Yagasaki, Y. Saito, et al. (2017).
Regular Group Exercise Contributes to Balanced Health in Older Adults in Japan:
A Qualitative Study
BMC Geriatrics, 17(1). doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3
- L. Østergaard, M. Jensen, K. Overvad, A. Tjønneland, & A. Grøntved, (2018).
Associations Between Changes in Cycling and All-Cause Mortality Risk
American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 55(5), 615-623. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.06.009
- Where The Road Forks, Fat Bike vs Mountain Bike: Pros and Cons – Pros
- Where The Road Forks, Fat Bike vs Mountain Bike: Pros and Cons – Cons
- Paul Nolan M.D. (1996). Medical Benefits of Recumbent Bicycles
Recumbent Cyclist News, 32/33(1), 55.
- Motrike, Delta vs Tadpole Trike: How to Choose the One That Suits You