E-bikes for seniors

E-bikes are quite popular among seniors, as they give older people more mobility and a way to improve fitness. In comparison to conventional bicycles, the motor assistance of an e-bike makes even steep inclines easy to ride for seniors. But their more robust frames and the addition of motor and battery make these bicycles much heavier, so they are not always easy for anyone to handle. Which e-bikes are suitable for seniors, and what should older people consider when buying an e-bike? Find out here.

Are e-bikes suitable for seniors?

E-bikes are very suitable for seniors because they enable people with limited physical condition and health issues to cover longer distances by bicycle without overexerting themselves. Many older people are no longer willing or able to cycle in road traffic for a number of reasons, such as physical impairments or long absence from participation in traffic. But with the support provided by the battery and motor on an e-bike, many of these people feel an increased sense of safety. Additionally, cycling with an e-bike is easier on the joints and, thanks to the motor assistance, generally much easier than a regular bicycle. 

One of the down sides is that due to the additional components such as the battery and motor, the weight of an e-bike is higher than a regular bicycle. Consequently, this can present a challenge for older cyclists who have less strength to support and manoeuvre the bicycle. Older e-bike riders are advised to take the time to select a model that is comfortable for them.

What e-bikes are available for seniors?

Many of the e-bike models available today are well-suited for older people. One consideration for older people is frame shape; electric bicycles with a step-through frame are particularly recommended for older people. Bicycles with step-through frame eliminate the high top tube in favour of a curved lower frame tube. This makes getting on and off easier, especially for people with limited mobility because getting onto the seat requires only a slight lift of the leg. For riders who find the e-bike difficult to handle because of the heavier weight, some bicycles offer a start and walk assist feature. 

In general usage, the terms e-bike and pedelec are often used synonymously, but there are actually a few important differences to be aware of: A pedelec provides motor assistance only when the rider is pedalling; the motor will provide this assistance up to a maximum speed of 25 km/h. On an e-bike, the motor provides this assistance without the rider having to pedal. This is why an e-bike requires a motor vehicle license, while no operating licence is required to ride a pedelec (just like a regular bicycle). Older people have the option to choose between e-bikes and pedelecs: for riders with a reasonable degree of fitness, pedelecs help them to maintain their fitness because they also have to pedal themselves; for people with significant mobility or fitness limitations, e-bikes can be an alternative that helps them to regain a sense of mobility and independence. 

What do older people need to consider when buying an e-bike?

When buying an e-bike or pedelec, older people should choose a model they feel comfortable with depending on their individual fitness and assistance needs. Another factor that should be considered is the purpose the bicycle is required for, for example: short shopping trips or long cycling tours. Longer distances will require a larger battery capacity, which means that the bicycle will be correspondingly heavier. A person who only needs to cover short distances for everyday trips will be able to make do with a lighter battery and a lighter bicycle. Looking on the motor, a mid-drive motor like those available from Bosch is recommended, because unlike front or rear hyb motors, mid-drive motors put the centre of gravity lower and make for a more pleasant riding experience. 

When considering additional equipment like an onboard computer, older people should make sure that they are easy to use and easy to read. Depending on the intended use, the rider may wish to consider factors such as space for bicycle bags or baskets. 

Before buying, always consult a specialist dealer for detailed advice. The dealer will also be able to offer you a number of models for a test drive, so you can get an idea of what kind of e-bike suits you best. They can also adjust the saddle, handlebars and petals for you, so that you can be sure you are sitting comfortably and that your joints are properly positioned for riding. Older cyclists may also need protective equipment such as a helmet for additional safety in road traffic. If you would like to get an initial impression of which e-bike might suit you, you can also try out our online product advisor.