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Exercise is vital at all ages, but it becomes even more critical as you grow older. The National Council on Aging calls the benefits that come from exercise after age 60 “life-changing.”
As a person ages, they lose both bone and muscle mass. In fact, post-menopausal women lose up to 2 percent of their bone mass every year. Exercise is a proven way to restore some of that loss and improve your overall mood and wellness, too. This is especially important at an age when the risks of depression and chronic illness are high.
The question isn’t whether seniors need exercise but what kind. There is no easy answer because everyone responds to exercise differently. Bicycling is a well-rounded activity that is low on impact and high on fun.
And, there is no reason seniors can’t get out and enjoy the cycling life. The trick is the find the right bike. As you bike shop for yourself or a senior in your life, you’ll see the term “step-through” frame a lot. What does that mean, and what are some of the top step-through standard bikes for seniors?
What Is a Step-Through Bike?
Step-through refers specifically to the frame design of the bike. When mounting a standard bike, also known as a step-over bike, the rider must elevate their leg, which can be challenging for seniors.
On the other hand, a step-through bike allows you to step your leg through the frame, making it safer and simpler to get on and off. The step-through bike was originally designed with women in mind. They were created in the 1800s for women who would have had difficulty getting aboard a conventional cycle while wearing those voluminous skirts of the time.
The Benefits of a Step-Through Bike Frame
Today, most brands make some form of step-through bike frame to accommodate people of all ages. With that in mind, let's look at some of the benefits of a step-through bike.
Easier to Get On and Off
It is evident that the design of a step-through bike allows the rider to climb on and off the bike much more safely and efficiently. This is especially important for seniors and those with restricted mobility.
It's common for mobility to deteriorate as we age, making getting on and off a standard bike more difficult, if not dangerous. It is much easier to straddle the bike and sit down, which is especially important for persons with impaired balance because it reduces the likelihood of them falling.
Lifting and swinging the legs to mount a standard bike may cause joint pain. This is not the case with a step-through bike, which is perfect for persons with a restricted range of motion in their joints or severe illnesses like arthritis.
Furthermore, seniors who have undergone surgery such as a knee replacement will find it much easier to get on and off a step-through bike since there is less need to bend or raise the leg.
Relaxed Riding Position
When riding a step-through bike, you will be sitting more upright thanks to the location and design of the cruiser handlebars. Riding upright feels a lot more comfortable and puts less tension on the back, which is essential for those who already have back discomfort. Furthermore, this calm riding style is better suited to a pleasant, leisurely ride than something strenuous.
Are There Downsides to Step-Through Frames
For seniors, the benefits outweigh any disadvantages of using a step-through bike. There are a few things to keep in mind, though.
They are Heavier
Because step-through bikes lack a top crossbar, manufacturers must use thicker, more robust tubing. This is a positive thing in many respects since it implies the bike will be more durable. It does, however, mean that it will be heavier and require more work to carry, and move to store.
Heavier Makes Them Harder to Carry
The problem isn’t just the weight, though. Carrying your bike over an impediment like a large curb, uneven ground, or a set of steps might be more difficult. This is due to the slanted tube in the middle of the bike, which can cause the center of gravity to shift.
What to Look for in a Step-Through Bike
When choosing a step-through bike, think beyond the shape of the frame. Look for a bike that fits your overall needs.
Since step-through bikes are a bit heavier, the frame construction is even more critical. Look for something with a lightweight frame material, preferably aluminum or carbon steel.
In addition to being lightweight, a carbon or aluminum frame will be very resistant to rust and corrosion and will provide exceptional strength.
There are bikes with steel frames that are less expensive, but while this is a strong material, it is also rather hefty when compared to other possibilities. Furthermore, if the bike is not well maintained, this material is more prone to rust.
Many modern step-through bikes are equipped with a suspension fork, which is meant to absorb shock from road barriers or bumps. This is a significant feature, particularly for those with joint issues, and may make riding much more pleasant.
Suspension forks come in a variety of designs that employ various types of springs, air, and other technologies. Different people prefer different varieties, so it's worth trying a few different ones until you discover one that works for you
An uncomfortable saddle keeps many people off their bikes. If you are uncomfortable riding on a bicycle seat due to pressure, there are several solutions available that include cutouts and padding to relieve strain on the rider.
Before purchasing a bike seat, it is critical to test it out and seek ergonomically constructed seats with features that fit your comfort requirements. If you truly enjoy the bike but find the saddle uncomfortable, the shop or manufacturer may be able to replace the seat.
Brakes are clearly an important safety feature, so finding ones you are comfortable with matters. There are several types of brakes, with disc brakes being the most recent and creative. They are strong and ideal for riding in a variety of weather conditions and terrain.
There are, however, alternative options, such as a hub brake, which is minimal maintenance and ideal for smooth, relaxed riding.
What Are the Top Step-Through Bikes for Seniors
There are plenty of step-through bikes on the market today, so how do you choose? One way is to look and see what other people online are talking about and why. Here are five of the top step-through bikes we think you or the senior in your life will love.
3. Schwinn Discover Women’s Hybrid Bike
The Schwinn Discover bike is for the more adventurous senor. With 21 gears that are easily changed with a twist shifter, this is the ideal bike for conquering all types of rugged terrain. If you're looking for an adventure, this bike is ready to go. The frame is composed of aluminum and is known for its durability. The lightweight frame makes riding even on rough terrain easier.
The Schwinn Discovery also has a high-quality suspension fork, so you'll be comfortable even when riding on difficult terrain. This is good if you suffer joint pain yet want to be active. When you consider that there is also a suspension seat post, it's easy to understand why this is the ideal off-roader.
Top features include:
This bike is a good option for the senior who isn’t a casual rider.
4. Schwinn Wayfarer Bike
The Wayfarer, also from Schwinn, is a hybrid cruiser bike with a vintage appeal. The Wayfarer has seven gears and a twist shifter, making it ideal for weekend riders on flat terrain. This is a practical pick for cruising through the city. The frame is built of strong steel, and the chrome fenders protect against splashes. Keep in mind, the frame may be heavier, though.
While this is better suited to flat terrain, the dual shock absorption provides a very smooth and pleasant ride.
Top features include:
If you're a fashion-forward senior, you'll like the sleek-looking frame, which is available in a variety of hues.
5. Pure City Classic Step-Through Bicycle
Pure City offers its classic step-through bike with an equally classic look. You have your choice of a 3-speed or 8-speed hub with this bike.
The 3-speed provides a limited number of gears to cycle through, and the internal hub is unrivaled in terms of simplicity of use and producing a clean, minimalist design. The 8-speed transmission provides a more extensive range of speeds for tackling steep climbs and hauling greater loads.
Top features include:
Many of the bikes on the list have very similar features. The key to picking out the right one is to look at the brand. Sixzerothree is on the cutting edge of manufacturing incredibly stylish, basic cruiser bicycles that are comfortable, sturdy, and dependable, all at a very low price. We offer custom fittings exemplary customer service, and we stand behind our products whether you buy a step-through, cruiser, hybrid, three-wheel, or electric bike. We are there for you every step of the way.
If you are looking for the perfect step-through option, check out our For Seniors page and learn more about the bikes from Sixthreezero.
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