E-Bikes & Bikes Customised to You
February 7, 2023
If you're a senior who's looking for an electric tricycle bike, or if you're trying to find one for a senior friend or family member, there are plenty of options to choose from. Everything from the size of the motor for electric assist to the height of the seat can affect the comfort, safety, and enjoyment of an electric trike.
The goal is to get one that's really enjoyable, so it can be used frequently. But you also want one that's a good fit, since that will help make it safer and more comfortable. Thinking about the terrain where it's going to be used matters, as well. With so many things to think about, it's good to have a checklist before you buy.
The step-through height of an electric tricycle bike is important, especially for seniors. This is the height of the bar or frame in front of the seat that you need to step over to get onto the trike itself. Many bicycles and ebikes have higher bars, where electric tricycles generally have lower barriers to access.
The step-through height on many electric tricycle bikes is 12.5 inches. That's lower than what's offered with bicycles, and also lower than some standard (non-electric) trikes. Considering the height of the step-through is extremely important for seniors, since there may be issues or concerns with limited mobility.
To comfortably get onto the electric tricycle, anyone who's going to ride it needs to be able to lift their foot and leg over the frame at the step-through point. Doing that safely is easier when holding onto the handlebars for balance, but some seniors may still have difficulty with lifting their feet, depending on medical conditions and other factors.
Finding an electric tricycle bike for seniors that has the lowest possible height for step-through is generally a good idea. Not only does that make it easier to access and use the trike, but it also means that the trike can still be used later, if there's some decline in mobility with advancing age.
Another consideration when looking for an electric tricycle bike for seniors is the size (and type) of the tires. There's a big difference between riding en electric bike on a paved street and riding one on a dirt or gravel road. The same is true for living near the beach, and riding on sand. The right tires can make a big difference for stability.
If you're looking for tires for on-road riding, like traveling around a neighborhood or going to the store, you want to choose tires that are more like what you'd find on a standard adult tricycle or even a bicycle. These tires are generally very firm, and they are also often thin.
Standard tire sizes are 18, 20, or 22 inches, with some tires being 26 inches. These are not the only sizes available, but they're the sizes used on the majority of electric trikes. Smaller tires can mean a lower profile for the overall tricycle, and can affect the speed the trike can achieve when pedaling, since trikes typically offer the ability to pedal with or without electric assist.
In addition to the size of the tires, you want to carefully consider the width and type of tire if an electric tricycle bike for seniors will be used anywhere that's not a paved road. Wider, softer tires are a great choice for sand, for example, because they get better traction and can improve stability.
With dirt or gravel, tires that aren't easy to puncture can be the best choice. It's important to make sure you or your senior loved one doesn't end up with a flat tire, especially if they're not within a short distance of home. Understanding the safety and security of different kinds of tires, along with the size of the tire that meets your needs, is vitally important to getting the right trike.
Riding Position Angle
Not every electric tricycle bike for seniors has the same kind of riding position or angle. Some of them are set up where the rider is leaning back further, while others have the rider in a more upright or forward-leaning position. The angle and position can make a big difference for comfort, especially on longer trips. But that's not the only consideration.
In addition to whether the riding position causes back pain or other concerns about discomfort, it's important to assess whether the angle affects the ability to reach the handlebars and other controls properly. Reaching the pedals easily is needed, of course, but many electric tricycles also have a thumb-lever throttle control, or one that requires twisting the handle grip, like a motorcycle.
If a senior rider is leaning back too far to comfortable reach the handlebars and access the controls, that can be a recipe for an accident. However, learning forward unnaturally could also cause back pain and muscle stiffness. If you're buying the trike for yourself, make sure you try out several and spend some time with them, to find the most comfortable fit.
For anyone who's looking into an electric tricycle bike for seniors as a gift for a family member or friend, it's best not to make the trike into a surprise present. Since the riding position and angle matters so much for comfort and safety, letting the person who's going to be riding it pick it out is the right way to go. Surprise them with the trip to pick it out, instead of the bike itself.
The height of the seat is another significant consideration for anyone who's looking at electric bikes, and it's even more important for seniors. Some people like to "hop up" onto the seat of a bicycle or tricycle, and prefer a higher riding position. Not every senior will be able to do that, and even if they can, they might not want to.
You also need to consider how long the trike will last, because what's comfortable now might not be as comfortable in the future. It's generally better to choose something that's easier to use than needed, so it's still usable at a later date. With seniors, that's even more significant. Many seniors are very active well into their advanced years, but accidents and illnesses are still a consideration.
Seat height also matters simply because some people are much taller than others. Someone who's over six feet tall needs a higher seat height than someone who's much smaller. Having an adjustable seat can help reduce some of the concern over a specific seat height, but seats only adjust a certain amount. Making sure the proper seat height falls into that range is required.
When considering the seat height of an electric tricycle bike for seniors, also think about the comfort and shape of the seat itself. It may be necessary to get a larger or smaller seat, or one that has additional padding or a different type of material in it. Seat comfort, especially for anyone who rides their electric trike for a long time, is going to be an important part of finding the right trike.
Fortunately, there are usually options for changing seats at a later date if the original one isn't comfortable. As long as the seat height is right for the height of the rider, and there are options to change seats later, the electric tricycle you're considering could be the right choice. Most seat heights vary between 24 and 31 inches, but it may be possible to get one outside those measurements.
After thinking about all the options listed above, you'll have pretty good idea of which available electric tricycle bike for seniors is going to be the right one. Before you commit to a particular electric trike, though, there are a few other things you'll want to think about.
How Will the Trike be Used?
Take a look at whether there's any kind of specific use for the trike, other than simply the enjoyment and convenience of riding it. For example, some seniors use an electric tricycle instead of a mobility scooter to get around. They may live in a retirement community where they can go to the clubhouse, visit their friends, and just get out and about for a while.
Having a trike they don't have to pedal all the time makes doing that easier, and can give them much-needed peace of mind. It can also keep them from being so isolated, especially if they can't get around as well as they used to, don't drive, or if walking is difficult. Being aware of mobility needs matters.
Do You Need Cargo-Carrying Ability?
Consider whether you or another rider will be using the electric trike to get groceries or carry items with them. Some trikes have baskets or other forms of storage, and having that can increase the value of the trike by a lot for the right person. There are electric cargo trikes that can carry much more than the average trike, but most seniors probably won't need that much storage space.
What Kind of Power and Battery is Needed?
Think about the motor and battery needs, as well as the size constraints. Most electric trikes can travel between 12 and 15 miles per hour. Getting a smaller motor could mean not having the kind of power you're looking for. It's usually better to get a slightly larger motor, to be sure you can move the trike forward efficiently.
Along with the motor, consider the battery. Someone traveling a couple of miles from home doesn't need a big battery with a larger range. If the trike's going to be used for longer or more frequent trips between charges, though, having a battery with a 25 to 30-mile range can provide security and peace of mind. Being stranded far from home with a dead battery could be stressful and dangerous.
Is There Room for an Electric Trike?
An electric tricycle bike for seniors will take up significant space in a shed or garage, so it's important to be sure there's room to maneuver it properly. Leaving it outdoors isn't the best for protecting it, and it can also mean lower battery life if the temperatures are cold. There's the risk of theft or damage, too, so it's very important to have a space for the trike before purchasing it.
It's better to have an indoor location to store the electric trike when it's not being used, and if you have a garage that's usually pretty easy. But many seniors live in apartments or other community-based housing, and having the right space for the trike could mean making some adjustments to a storage space or pursuing other options.
The Bottom Line on Electric Trikes for Seniors
So, what's the bottom line when buying an electric tricycle bike for seniors? The goal is to find the best trike for the rider's needs. Anticipating what you or a senior friend or family member may need in the future isn't always easy, but it's important to make the effort.
By choosing a tricycle bike that's easier and more accommodating than what's needed now, you can have a higher chance of continuing to use that trike for a much longer period of time. Electric trikes can cost thousands of dollars, so getting the right one is worth spending time on. You want to be happy with your purchase, whether it's for yourself or someone you care about.
Don't settle for any electric trike. Keep looking around until you find the right one, and ask about custom options for things like the seat height if the rider's height is an outlier. Most people can feel comfortable with the range of standard seat heights available, but that may not be true for those who are very tall or on the much smaller side.
In short, consider all the basic aspects of the trike, and make sure it meets needs properly. If it doesn't, then looking for a different one is the right choice. Once you find the right trike, it's a purchase that can be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come, either in your senior years or the senior years of a friend or family member.
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