Early September marked a significant benchmark for our household: Mother’s eightieth birthday. The occasion ushered in a wave of tension within the type of discovering the right reward for an lively octogenarian. Mother is match; she’s an avid bike owner who nonetheless rides 10 miles a day. But 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 every time she wants successful of air, she props the bike up towards the storage and leaves the pump close by, a mild reminder to certainly one of her 5 children or a number of grandchildren to high off the tires.
As a result of the benefits of riding a bike are huge—in addition to 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 wish to preserve Mother 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. Analysis from a 2018 Portland State University study discovered that individuals 55 and older felt extra protected when driving an ebike. That feeling of elevated security is much bigger for older adults than for some other age group.
But, based on a 2020 study cosponsored by the American Affiliation of Retired Individuals and the League of American Bicyclists, the share enhance in bike owner and pedestrian deaths has been bigger amongst older adults than some other age group during the last decade. The research discovered that between 2010 and 2019, “the three largest share will increase in bicyclist fatalities had been amongst folks 55 to 64 (38 %); 65 to 74 (59 %); and 75 and over (44 %).” The research 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 specialists. I first spoke with Ash Lovell, the Electrical Bicycle Coverage and Marketing campaign Director for PeopleForBikes, a biking advocacy group primarily based in Boulder, Colorado. “It actually is dependent upon the steadiness, well being, and luxury stage of the 80-year-old particular person.” says Lovell. If we do resolve to purchase Mother an ebike, she added, we should always do the next homework.
First, be taught concerning the class designations of electric bikes and the way they differ. Within the US, meaning Class 1, 2, or 3. A Class 1 bike solely presents pedal help and has no throttle mechanism that lets the rider speed up with out pedaling. Additionally, the motor that gives the pedal help on a Class 1 bike tops out at 20 mph. Class 2 bikes provide pedal help and throttle help—that means you don’t have to pedal the bike to maneuver it—and have a most assisted velocity 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 category of ebike you should purchase is dependent upon the rider’s native terrain and their consolation stage with the facility to pedaling ratio. “Throttles are nice for some individuals who dwell in hilly areas,” says Lovell, “as a result of they received’t be marooned anyplace.”
Second, make certain the bike has high-quality elements and batteries. Shoddy elements—particularly batteries—may be harmful each on and off the road. The perfect bike producers have a code of conduct, warranties, and FAQs prominently displayed on their web site. “In the event that they aren’t speaking about battery security and the standard of their elements,” says Lovell, “then it’s most likely a decrease high quality bike.”
Lastly, purchase the best 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 experience extra steady, whereas wider tires make it simpler to roll over bumps and take the bike off-road. For riders who want further stability, the most suitable choice isn’t an electrical bike. It’s an electrical tricycle. “I’d be comfy placing my 90-year-old great-grandmother on a trike as a result of it’s not going to tip over,” Lovell says.