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Senior Friendly Guide to Bicycles

There is a grain of truth in the phrase “you never forget how to ride a bike.” Even if you haven’t been on a bike since childhood, that’s no reason to ignore bikes all together. Bicycles serve a variety of functions: an eco-friendly way to get to and fro your destinations, a refreshing cardiovascular workout, a pleasant way to tour a new area.

While bike riding is a highly-enjoyable, highly-encouraged activity, seniors need to take certain precautions and notes before they get back on a two (or three, or four) wheeler. In terms of safety, aging adult are prone to accidents and injuries because of brittle bones, slow reaction times, and reduced site/hearing. Comfort is also of the essence, not just to make the ride a bit more pleasant, but the sense of ease allows the bike rider to pay attention to the potential distractions. Additionally, biking is a strenuous activity which can take a physical tole over a long period of time; paying attention to physical comfort now will lessen long-term pain. It is just not suggested, it’s demanded, that seniors who want to get on a bike pay attention to the way in which their certain physiological factors interact with the features on a bike.

What Seniors Should Look for in a Bicycle

Foot and Hand Brakes

There are two ways to slow down and stop a bike — going backwards with your foot pedals (foot brakes) and pressing down on hand brakes. While most bikes come with one option or the other, foot and hand brakes are not actually mutually exclusive. Consider hand and foot brakes the ultimate braking duo, pressing down on both the hand brakes and the foot brakes at the same time. This is a particularly important feature for seniors who might be prone to slow/delayed reactions time or have trouble correctly carrying out the objective at hand. The dual breaking technique reinforces the ultimate objective, stopping the bike in due time.

Skeppshult V Bike

Most bikes with both foot and hand brakes are made for children, not adults but the Skeppshult V Bike seems to be the exception to the rule. This is a very practical bike for aging adults that want to maximize the potential safety features.

Wide Tires

Wide tires on a bicycle help to provide the ride with a sense of balance and stability. This takes a bit of pressure off the bike rider to keep the bike straight. This is an especially important feature if you are want to ride on less-developed city streets or off-road because the bike will be equipped to handle excess bumps and shocks. Because seniors are prone to suffering from delayed reaction times, making it a bit more difficult to safely maneuver over bumps, wide tires helps to compensate for delayed reaction times and stabilize the bike.

Wildfire Designs FatBike

The FatBike, with its oversize tires, is a speciality model. While it is designed for year around use on sketchy and rough surface, it can be used on all sorts of terrain. No need to worry about tipping over your bike if you ride over an unexpected pothole, as the tires will absorb the excess shock.


It’s not a mystery as to why aging adults might want to invest in a lightweight bike. Bike owners frequently have to carry their bikes; for example to a car, onto the subway; up the stairs. While the primary purpose of a bike is of course to ride it, we frequently need to transport the bike in unexpected situations. It is common for muscle mass (and consequently strength) to decline alongside with age. For weaker aging adult who aren’t used to carrying heavy objects, lightweight bikes are manageable to maneuver and limit the risk of straining muscles or pulling out your back.

Corsa FC Lightweight Full Carbon Fiber Road Bike

Pending on the frame’s size (which comes in three sizes, small medium, or large), this road bike weights around 20 pounds. While you might be able to find a racing bike that is a bit lighter, those sort of bikes are really more of a speciality models for professional racers.

Three Wheel Bikes

Three wheel bikes (also known in some circles as trikes, or tricycles depending on the model/maker) provide riders with extra support and stability. Like we previously mentioned, many seniors have a poor sense of balance and extra support (that third wheel) can help to compensate. In theory, a bike with training wheels serves the same balancing task but it is difficult (if not near impossible) to find a bike with training wheels for adults.

Schwinn Meridian Adult 26-Inch 3-Wheel Bike

This Schwinn bike, with its third wheel, is ideal for leisurely slow rides. With one wheel in the front and two in the back, the bike pretty much balances itself. Tipping over essentially becomes a non-concern. Yet, due to the this bike’s relatively slow speed, we recommend that you avoid riding it in streets with cars and stick to friendlier environments — like bike paths.

Wide/Cushion Bike Seats

Wide/Cushion seats are different than most other bike seats (race, mountain bike, suspension, cutaway, all-leather) by the virtue of the fact that the seat is designed to maximize comfort. Wide throughout, especially in the back, these sort of seats are equipped with excess padding and often time springs. Wide/cushion seats make the ride more enjoyable by providing your bottom with a proper resource for resting. Additionally, they are an asset for sexually-active aging males, who might be concerned about erectile dysfunction, a cause of concern for males who use smaller bike seats.

Diamondback Wildwood Deluxe Men’s Comfort Bike

The seat on the Wildwood Deluxe is equipped with a layer of foam and coil springs. This cushion sits on top of a strong base for support. The exact seat length varies, pending on the exact model and frame, but with a tube ranging from 15 to 21 inches, this seat is certainly wider than comparable models.

Seven-to-Fourteen Gears

Frequently accompanying the aging process is the wearing down of knees. Years of pounding and overuse take its tole, and many cardiovascular activities like running are no longer a viable option. While biking is known as a low-impact alternative, not all bikes are made equal when it comes to knee preservation. Those with knee problems want to look for a bike that has between 7 and 14 gears, which essentially means you have between 7 to 14 speeds to choose from. Low gears require more repetition, meaning you have to cycle more frequently, which puts undue stress upon the knee. High gears means it takes longer to go through one cycle because you have to push so darn hard to move forward. Having the option to decide between 7 and 14 gears allows you to customize the sort of ride you want (less peddling/ more peddling) if you need help transitioning to different terrains.

Cadillac CTS Road Bike 14 Speed

This Cadillac model is your standard 14 speed road bike, a solid investment for the well-being of your knees With the flick of a basic tab, the gears are easy enough to operate if you need help transitioning from one gear to the next.

6 Responses to Senior Friendly Guide to Bicycles

  1. Cherie Dieckman August 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    I am looking for a three wheel bike with gears not to expensive and maybe folding.

  2. Max Baumgarten August 5, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    Cherie —

    Thanks for reading our site. We are happy to help you on your search. You should look into the Adult trike tricycle 24. Additionally, The Westport Adult Folding Tricycle is a great model, though it doesn’t have any gears.

  3. Barb Nitardy June 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I am 77 yrs old & am looking for a road bike with a low rise or low frame so I don’t have to put my leg up too high. Would also be nice to have the pedals slightly forward so I am not sitting directly over the pedals. Probably a 24″.

  4. Anita August 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Electra Townie

  5. Tom Walker September 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    We are looking for a folding bike with 7 speeds and foot brakes. Does that exist?

  6. Gloria February 12, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    I’m looking for a bike with the pedals in from of the seat and it has the old fashion handle bars. It is like sitting in a chair.

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