What is the best electric bike for older or novice riders?

At Electric Bike Report, real experts choose the best electric bikes for seniors 2021. They’ve actually tried every e-bike on their list and have been doing it for years, although I have only been serious e-bikes for two years and haven’t tried so many different models. But I have a list of attributes that I think would be nice to have on a bike for anyone.

Electric Bike Report’s criteria included stability and comfort, quality and components, value, power and range, and finally: was it designed specifically for the elderly?

First of all, I would say that we shouldn’t use the word elderly; many are put off by the term. Studies have shown that most people think they look and act younger than they are and don’t accept that they should think like “seniors”. Just calling something a senior citizen’s bike is going to put people off.

Author Susan Jacoby said at the atlantic: “Senior is one of the most common euphemisms for seniors, and it turns out that is the one I hate the most.” Jacoby told me that for her, senior implies that the people who receive the label are different and somewhat less. Many people of the so-called “senior” age will reject the bike simply because of its label.

Plus, the things that make a bicycle better for seniors make it better for almost everyone, regardless of age, and certainly for newbies new to biking, which a lot of new e-cyclists are; many come from cars, not bicycles. We don’t want a 45-year-old man to end up doing a Simon Cowell on the wrong bike.

So, for lack of a better term, let’s just call it a “good bike”.

The right bike would be a comfortable, upright Dutch style bike.

CC BY 2.0.
Gazelle bike in Fort York / Lloyd Alter

We’re talking about a relaxed, back-comfortable sitting position, with the handlebars close enough that you don’t have to lean forward at all. We are not in a race.

The right bike will be a stage without a top tube.

Gazelle bicycle designed for older cyclists.

Lloyd alter

It’s best for everyone of each gender; we noticed a few years ago that a dutch safety organization wanted to make every bike a stage, and not just women’s bikes.

“Women’s bikes are safer because cyclists adopt better posture when riding women’s bikes and they are less likely to seriously injure their heads when involved in traffic accidents.”

But they’re also better for people who are aging.

“As you get older, getting on and off the bike is not so easy. This is when most accidents happen, especially on e-bikes, and the consequences of a fall can be very serious for people. elderly. ”

The right bike will be as light as possible.

Gocycle electric bicycle with stand.

Lloyd alter

My Gazelle electric bike is built like a tank, but it weighs 60 pounds and I sometimes have to ride it a flight of stairs or two when I find a place to lock it. The Gocyle, a folding electric bicycle, weighs 38.6 pounds, thanks to its magnesium wheels and hydroformed aluminum body.

The Good Bike will have internal gear hubs instead of derailleurs.

Every e-bike needs a good range of gears, but most come with derailleurs, which are exposed to the elements and damage, have the chain slamming from gear to gear and skipping often (this which happens regularly when my daughter drives the Gazelle and shifts too many gears at once). Then there’s the feature I love: you can change gears while stationary. It’s so much better in town, where I pulled up at a red light (yes, cyclists stop at red lights) and struggled to start.

Internal gear hubs are more expensive and slightly less efficient, but that counts less on an electric bike. They also eliminate the possibility of a rear hub drive, which is pretty much standard on cheaper e-bikes.

The Good Bike will have a mid-drive motor.

Engine halfway on my Gazelle.

Lloyd alter

They have a low center of gravity. They are smooth; you don’t even feel them kick in. However, they put a lot of pressure on the chain and if it breaks you push it home. They are generally a little more expensive to buy and maintain, but are strong and stable.

The Good Bike motor will be rated in newton meters, not watts.

In Europe, everyone gets by with a 250 watt motor, it is the limit of the law. They are good for gusts up to 600 watts, and I never wanted power on my Gazelle or the Surly Big Easy that I tried a few years ago. In North America, most regulations allow 750-watt motors, and people just think the bigger the better. Newton-meters are measured torques, the torque for which electric motors are famous. It tells you how fast you go from zero to anything. Buying in watts is a distraction, and hardly anyone needs 750 watts.

Range is also a questionable number which varies depending on how you ride, your weight, and the type of terrain. It can be literally anywhere on the map. Bigger batteries are better, but they’re heavier, so that’s a tradeoff.

The Good Bike will have a good rearview mirror, bright lights, and the most powerful doorbell you can buy.

Many people don’t have the balance or flexibility of the neck to check the shoulders when they have to get around a jerk blocking bike paths. I am on my fourth bell; the original collapsed within a month, and I continue to look for noisier replacements to warn pedestrians walking the bike path.

The right bike will be good for everyone.

Safety, security, stability, ease of use and maintenance – these have no age or ability. That’s what we call universal design, where “it can be accessed, understood and used to the fullest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability”. It would be a good bike.

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About Jeffrey Wurtsbach

Jeffrey Wurtsbach

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