Early September marked a significant benchmark for our household: Mom’s eightieth birthday. The occasion ushered in a wave of hysteria within the type of discovering the proper reward for an lively octogenarian. Mom is match; she’s an avid bicycle owner who nonetheless rides 10 miles a day. Yet she not has the energy to pump up her hybrid bike’s tires to precisely 85 psi, the optimum tire strain to make it up the steep gravel hill on the finish of her every day journey with out popping the tire. So at any time when she wants a success of air, she props the bike up in opposition to the storage and leaves the pump close by, a delicate reminder to certainly one of her 5 youngsters or a number of grandchildren to high off the tires.
Because the benefits of riding a bike are monumental—moreover offering a lift to 1’s psychological well being, biking lowers the chance of coronary coronary heart illness, stroke, hypertension, kind 2 diabetes, and a bunch of cancers—we need to preserve Mom driving so long as she will be able to. The apparent resolution looks as if an electric bike, that miraculous invention that unsteepens hills and extends endurance. Research from a 2018 Portland State University study discovered that individuals 55 and older felt extra secure when driving an ebike. That feeling of elevated security is much bigger for older adults than for every other age group.
Yet, in keeping with a 2020 study cosponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons and the League of American Bicyclists, the proportion enhance in bicycle owner and pedestrian deaths has been bigger amongst older adults than every other age group over the past decade. The examine discovered that between 2010 and 2019, “the three largest percentage increases in bicyclist fatalities were among people 55 to 64 (38 percent); 65 to 74 (59 percent); and 75 and over (44 percent).” The examine doesn’t break down the prevalence of fatalities between non-motorized and motorized bikes, however the statistics had been sufficient to offer us pause. By giving her an ebike, would we be gifting my mother a weapon of self-destruction?
We determined to ask the consultants. I first spoke with Ash Lovell, the Electric Bicycle Policy and Campaign Director for PeopleForBikes, a biking advocacy group primarily based in Boulder, Colorado. “It really depends on the stability, health, and comfort level of the 80-year-old person.” says Lovell. If we do determine to purchase Mom an ebike, she added, we should always do the next homework.
First, be taught in regards to the class designations of electric bikes and the way they differ. In the US, which means Class 1, 2, or 3. A Class 1 bike solely affords pedal help and has no throttle mechanism that lets the rider speed up with out pedaling. Also, the motor that gives the pedal help on a Class 1 bike tops out at 20 mph. Class 2 bikes supply pedal help and throttle help—that means you don’t have to pedal the bike to maneuver it—they usually even have a most assisted pace of 20 mph. Class 3 bikes are pedal-assist solely and don’t have any throttle, however can go as quick as 28 mph beneath motor energy. The class of ebike you should purchase is dependent upon the rider’s native terrain and their consolation degree with the power-to-pedaling ratio. “Throttles are great for some people who live in hilly areas,” says Lovell, “because they won’t be marooned anywhere.”
Second, be certain that the bike has high-quality parts and batteries. Shoddy parts—particularly batteries—may be harmful each on and off the road. The finest bike producers have a code of conduct, warranties, and FAQs prominently displayed on their web site. “If they aren’t talking about battery safety and the quality of their components,” says Lovell, “then it’s probably a lower-quality bike.”
Lastly, purchase the fitting bike for senior riders. For older adults, a body with a step-through design makes it simpler to get on and off. Heightened handlebars preserve the driving place upright and extra comfy. Smaller wheels decrease the middle of gravity and make the journey extra steady, whereas wider tires make it simpler to roll over bumps and take the bike off-road. For riders who want additional stability, the best choice isn’t an electrical bike. It’s an electrical tricycle. “I’d be comfortable putting my 90-year-old great-grandmother on a trike, because it’s not going to tip over,” Lovell says.