Electric bicycles provide older riders with fun, fitness and safety

What can you tell me about electric tricycles for semi-seniors? I used to ride a bike a lot when I was younger, but I have problems with my balance and I no longer trust myself on two wheels. I’ve read that electric trikes are a good option for older riders, but I need some help choosing one.

Unstable Eddie

Dear Eddie,

Adult electric trikes – also known as e-trikes – are a great cycling option for seniors with balance or stamina issues because they’re safe and super fun to ride, and they’re light on the aging body. Here’s what you should know, along with some tips to help you buy one.

Safer cycling

If you’re interested in cycling but worry about falling or injuring yourself, e-trikes are a great choice because of the stability they provide on three wheels. With a tricycle, you can ride as far as you want without ever losing your balance, which is very reassuring for most older riders.

E-trikes also come with a small electric motor that enhances the riding experience, so when you sit down and hit the gas, the motor will give you a boost when pedaling or do all the work for you. This makes it much easier to climb hills and headwinds without gassing or straining your knee joints.

In addition, most e-trikes for adults are also built with a low “step-through” design that facilitates assembly and disassembly; they usually come with large tires that ensure a smooth ride; they have an ergonomic handle that is easy to reach and hold; and offer oversized seats (some even have backrests) for comfort and support.

There are many different types of adult e-tricks to choose from, and prices range from about $2,000 to $7,000. To purchase one, contact some bike shops in your area to see what they offer, or you may need to order one online.

When buying an e-trike, pay special attention to the motor, which determines how fast it will go, and the battery, which determines how long it will go between charges.

Most e-trikes can reach speeds between 15 and 28 mph, and typically travel between 20 and 55 miles on a single charge, depending on how hard you pedal. Battery charging times will also vary, ranging from three to eight hours.

How to choose

To help you find the right type of e-trike for you, ask yourself how and where you plan to ride it. If you’re primarily interested in easy riding around the neighborhood for pleasure, fitness, or running, an upright e-trike cruiser that has a rear cargo basket would be a good choice.

Some popular options in this category include: Addmotor’s M-340 Electric Fat Trike and M-360 Semi-Recumbent Trike (both $3,000, addmotor.com); Emojo Caddy Pro ($2,900, emojobike.com); Sixthreezero EVRYjourney 250W Trike ($2,200, sixthreezero.com); EWheels EW-29 ($2,000, ewheelsdealers.com); and the Buzz Cerana T ($1,700, buzzbicycles.com).

Or, if you want to ride a longer road, a recumbent e-trike may be a better option. These are streamlined, low-slung, stretchy trikes that allow you to recline with your feet in front of you. Catrike (catrike.com) and TerraTrikes (terratrike.com) are two of the largest US companies that make tadpole-style trikes (two wheels are in the front) and both offer power-assist options at prices ranging from $5,000 to $,7000.

There are also folding e-trikes, which are handy if you have limited storage space at home or want to take your trike with you on a trip. Some good options are the Liberty Trike ($1,600, libertytrike.com) and the Eunorau New-Trike ($2,500, eunorau-ebike.com).

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior.”

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