Are E-Bikes Good for Seniors: Pros and Cons

by Nikola 

July 21, 2023

Getting a proper amount of exercise everyday day can sometimes be a struggle, especially as we grow older, since our motivation and physical abilities may diminish. However, it’s crucial for seniors, just like everyone else, to keep their bodies healthy and fit.

This begs the question: are electric bikes good for seniors?

Electric bikes have many benefits for seniors. The advantages of riding one, helps older adults get their daily exercise to stay fit and improve cognitive function, among other benefits. Overall, electric bikes are an excellent way for seniors to remain physically and mentally fit.

However, there can be some cons to riding e-bikes for seniors, which I will discuss in this article. So without further ado, let’s look at the pros and cons of riding an e-bike as a senior.

Senior Ebike 5

There are plenty of advantages when it comes to owning and riding an electric bike as an older person:

1. E-Bikes Are Safer and More Environmentally-Friendly Than a Car

If you are unable to or just don’t feel safe driving a car, e-bikes are a great replacement option. They are way easier to manage than a car but faster than a traditional bicycle.

Many electric bikes can even go up to 28mph, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ride at any lower speed that you’re comfortable with. Although it can take a bit longer to get around on an electric bike, you will never have to worry about stopping to get gas as you would with a car or miss your stop as it can happen when riding a bus.

In addition, electric bikes are an environmentally friendly means of transportation since no gas and fumes are being released from them. Therefore, you can contribute to keeping the environment clean for future generations!

2. Riding Electric Bikes Helps Prevent Diseases

Receiving a sufficient amount of physical activity and cardio daily as a senior is crucial and can aid in preventing diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, and cancer.

Taking an electric bike out for a ride can get your blood flowing. This makes electric bicycles an efficient and easy way to manage certain conditions. 

3. Riding An E-Bike Improves Cognitive Function And Stimulates the Mind

Being out in fresh air is a fantastic way to improve your mental health. As you age, you might lack the motivation to go outside and feel it’s simpler to stay indoors. 

However, going out for a ride on an e-bike is fun and an excellent way to stimulate your mind and enjoy other health benefits.

Being more active can lead to better mental and emotional health. 

Senior Ebike 1

4. You Can Select An E-Bike That Fits You

There is a wide range of different models of e-bikes for older people to choose from. Getting an e-bike with a less powerful motor, between 250 and 500W, will probably be satisfactory if you’re not into some crazy speeds.

Another factor to consider is that some e-bikes might be bulkier, featuring fat tires, which are great for stability but may be more challenging to maneuver for some.

An electric bike that features a step-through frame will be an excellent fit for seniors. Also called a “low-step” e-bike, you can quickly get on and off the bike without having to swing your leg and hips over a high bar. This is very important when it comes to e-bikes for seniors. 

The fear of falling from a bike is more of a concern as you get older, so this low-step e-bike is a perfect option. And elderly riders with back problems or joint issues in the legs, knees, hips, or ankles will especially appreciate a step-through electric bike - it’ll make a massive difference in the experience of riding your e-bike.

Also, there is an option of getting an e-tricycle with three wheels that provide extra safety and stability.

E-bikes for seniors should meet their particular needs. So it’s a good idea to try out several of the best e-bikes before buying one. Elderly riders can even consider renting e-bikes for the day before deciding which one to purchase.

5. Seniors Can Customize Their E-Bikes

You can modify or completely replace specific e-bike components like the seat,  handlebars, or pedals if they are not the right fit or just worn down.

Since maintaining good posture is critical as you grow older,  you can upgrade the seat on your e-bike to one that feels more comfortable and features better shock absorption. 

In addition, you can add baskets to carry stuff in for a quick trip to the grocery store, which is fast and easy to do on an e-bike.

Along with this, you can customize the power of the speed setting. You can select how much pedal assist force you want. However, if you wish to work hard and get more exercise, you can pedal without any assistance from the motor, just like you would with a regular bike.

6. Electric Power-Assist Without Pedaling

If you are struggling to ride your bike up a hill on your own, many electric bikes have a throttle that’ll enable you to ride without pedaling.

This is generally a twist throttle that will aid you in propelling forwards at the speed you select and is a great tool to utilize if your legs just need a break from pedaling.

Senior Ebike 6

The Cons of Electric Bikes for Seniors

While there are many advantages of electric bikes for seniors, there are a couple of possible cons one should keep in mind.

1. E-Bikes Are Pricier Than Traditional Bikes

To start, electric bikes can be quite pricey.

Most electric bicycles made with quality components start in the $2000 to $3000 range and go up to $8000! 

Even though more and more electric bikes are being manufactured at a lower cost, in the below $1000 range, the quality of the components used to make these bikes is questionable. 

Then you’ll have to worry about your electric bike breaking down while you’re out riding, especially the electrical components. Furthermore, these low-cost bike parts just won’t last as long, and you’ll most likely be spending money to replace broken pieces or the e-bike itself more often.

2. E-Bikes May Require More Work to Put Together

E-bikes come with parts that require you to use your hands to be put together, including the handlebars, pedals, and wheels. These components are also pretty heavy when removing the e-bike from the packaging. This could prove rather difficult if you lack physical strength or are a small person.

However, the overall instructions are reasonably straightforward, and you can always invite somebody over to help you put the bike together. Additionally, many companies provide a service to deliver and assemble your e-bike, for an additional cost.

Senior Ebike 2

3. E-Bikes Are Usually Bulky

Electric bicycles are much heavier than standard bikes and generally bulkier if they have large tires. In fact, e-bikes can be up to 50% heavier than their traditional counterparts and easily weigh between 45 and 70 pounds, depending on the model. This is partly due to the fact that the battery and the motor add considerable weight already.

And since e-bikes are heavy, they’ll require more physical strength to move around or lift. This could be especially difficult if you have knee problems or back issues. Due to the weight and size, you may want to have someone around to help you move your electric bike.

Also, electric bikes may take up a bit more space than standard bikes. It could pose a problem if you don’t have enough room in your living space to store it. 

4. Potential For Injury

While riding an electric bike is excellent for improving some physical issues, older adults need to be extra careful when riding one as e-bikes are bigger and more powerful than standard bikes.

When riding a bike, it’s easy to get carried away and find yourself at a higher speed, and braking all of a sudden may be dangerous.

Also, keep in mind that the same safety measures apply when riding an e-bike as when riding a traditional bike. Always wear a helmet and watch out for people and objects in your way.

5. Need to Keep Track of Battery Charge

Watch out that you don’t run out of battery power while riding your e-bike far from home! Electric bikes (depending on the model you get) can only last for around 22-50 miles on a single charge.

Even if you don’t plan on going that far on a single ride, you will find yourself stuck somewhere if you don’t remember to charge the battery. You should keep in mind that it takes between 3 to 6 hours to charge the e-bike battery fully.

What to Consider When Purchasing An E-Bike For A Senior

Senior Ebike 3

Electric bikes span the full spectrum of bikes, from high-performance racers designed for speed and efficiency to three-wheeled bikes built to take the balancing act out of riding. And, just like a car, e-bike speed and power can vary depending on the model and intended use.

Evaluate your goals and needs before spending money on an electric bike.

Think about what you want to do with the e-bike. Is your goal to stay fit and healthy? Get around the town or your neighborhood? The answer to these questions will guide you towards what type of electric bike is best for you.

The next thing you should keep in mind is the mobility issues or physical considerations you might have. It’s common for senior riders to have a tough time swinging their leg over the high-top tube of a standard bike. There are specific e-bike designs that can help alleviate such issues, like step-through electric bikes.

You use the information above to choose a type, model, and trim level that fits your requirements.

It is important to mention that electric bicycles are heavier than traditional bicycles. While they aren’t nearly as heavy as motorcycles, it’s not rare to see a 70-pound electric bike. 

Pay attention to the bike’s weight, but don’t let it affect your decision-making process too much. The motor on an e-bike will help cancel out that heavyweight while riding uphill, and well-designed electric bikes generally handle their weight pretty well in corners.

Selecting the power and size of the motor is another important consideration. There are a few types of electric bike motors, but the two most common are the mid-drive system and rear hub. 

Mid-drive motors are the higher-end option and usually require less power to produce considerable torque and speed. On the other hand, hub motors are the more affordable option and common on entry-level e-bikes. They generally have much higher wattage ratings than mid-drive motors but generate similar power.

Lastly, always remember that an electric bicycle is still a bicycle. Whether you notice it or not, you will probably get a workout, and you should be going at speeds that are similar to or slightly higher than traditional bicycling speeds. 

Safety is of prime importance - always wear a helmet. As a rider, it’s up to you to accept risks and ride your e-bike carefully. Start by riding conservatively, and you’ll be an expert e-biker in no time.

Conclusion: Are E-Bikes Good for Seniors?

Electric bicycles are a fantastic way for seniors to improve mental health and cognitive function, fight disease, and manage existing conditions. However, it’s always a good idea to keep both the advantages and disadvantages in mind when considering doing something physical that you haven’t done before.

While riding an electric bike has many benefits for seniors, the cons are worth noting. E-bikes are relatively expensive, are heavier, require extra care, and can cause injury. 

About the author

Hi, I'm Nikola, your typical adrenaline junkie. Columnist and publisher by day, passionate mountain biker, and downhill skateboarder by night (or I guess weekends). I love electric bikes and own a Rad Power Rover 6 myself!

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  1. E-bikes have out the fun back in cycling for us

    My husband and I are lifelong cyclists now in our 60s. We swapped to e-bikes a year ago for the sake of our knees (we live in a very lumpy part of France). We can once again ride uphill at 20kph, and our average speed overall has gone up from 13 to 23kph. We do rides of up to 90 km. We take all the usual cycling precautions of helmet, gloves, bright clothing, radar lights etc, and as I have osteoporosis I’ve added undershorts with hip protector shields to my wardrobe. The extra weight takes a little adjusting to – we’ve both overbalanced once when stopping – but other than those isolated incidents the experience has been brilliant. E-bikes have taken a lot of the effort out of the cycling and made it fun again.

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