Monday March 19, 2018
Best Bicycles for Baby Boomers
My husband and I are interested in getting a couple of bicycles for leisurely exercise and fun. We're both approaching 60 and are a little overweight. It has also been a while since we rode. Do you have any recommendations?
If you're interested in leisurely recreational riding for fitness and fun, a great option is a "comfort bike," which is very popular among baby boomers. Here's what you should know about this option, along with some tips to help you make your selection.
A comfort bike is a style of bicycle that's easy on an aging body because it lets you ride in a more comfortable upright position. These bikes have high handlebars so you don't have to hunch over, which eases lower-back strain and reduces pressure on the wrists and hands. They also come with wide tires for a smooth ride, offer fewer gears and have soft, wide seats to eliminate saddle soreness.
Most comfort bikes also come with shock-absorbing forks and seat posts for additional comfort. Some offer unique design features like an ultra low step-over bar that makes getting on and off easy for people with limited flexibility (like the Biria Easy Boarding at Biria.com). Another option is the "flat-foot" design offered by many manufacturers where the pedals are moved forward, away from the seat. This allows you to get a full-leg extension when you pedal, but keeps the seat in a lower position so that when you come to a stop you can put your feet down flat on the ground while seated. This is a great safety feature for older riders.
Most major manufacturers including Electra, Sun, Raleigh, GT, Giant and Trek all make a line of comfort bike that costs between $300 and $800 or more depending on its features.
To find a quality comfort bike, your best option is to find a good bike shop in your area. Bikes from big box stores, like Walmart and Target, are mass-market bikes that may be less expensive, but the quality sometimes isn't as good and the bikes can be seven to eight pounds heavier. They also typically only offer one size, so you're not as likely to get a great fit.
Before you buy any bike, be sure you take it for a test ride first to ensure that the seat and fit of the bike is comfortable, the brakes and shifters are easy to use, the gears can go low enough for climbing hills and the frame and suspension adequately enable the bike to ride smoothly on bumpy roads.
If the comfort bikes don't meet your needs, another popular style among older riders is a recumbent bike. These are the low-to-the-ground, stretched-out frame bikes with La-Z-Boy style seats that allow you to recline with your legs positioned in front of you.
Recumbent bikes are very comfortable, easy on the back, arms and shoulders and are aerodynamic, which make them ideal for long rides. However, because they are low-to-the-ground, they can be harder to balance and maneuver and are more difficult for vehicles to see.
If you worry about falling or want more stability when you ride, consider a three-wheel recumbent trike. See SunSeeker.bike and TerraTrike.com for a nice variety. Be aware that recumbent bikes are more expensive and typically range between $1,000 and $2,500.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
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