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Seniors who enjoy cycling may be most familiar with a kind of bike called a "step-over" bicycle. This kind of bicycle requires you to step over its frame, which can become difficult as people age and become less balanced and flexible.
Rather than stopping cycling completely, there is another option called a step-through bike. Step-through bicycles are also known as low-step cycles or step-through frames and are a type of inclusive bicycle for cyclists of all ages. In particular, seniors can benefit from this design because it allows them to easily mount their bicycles without the risk of tripping over the frame.
A step-thru bike is also known as a step-through bike, step-through frame, open-frame, drop-frame, or low-step-frame bike, is a type of bicycle with a low (or absent) tube top or cross-bar frame piece. The frame's design is such that it doesn't require someone to take a large step to step over the frame and mount the bicycle.
Step-thru bikes were originally created for those who had to work quickly. For instance, a newspaper boy or girl could quickly mount and dismount their delivery bicycle if the top bar was not present.
Additionally, traditional women's bike frames tended to have step-thru frames. The reason for this was to allow for skirts and dresses to hang without getting caught up on the upper tube that was commonly found on men's bicycles.
Other kinds of bicycles, such as those with the top tube in place, are called diamond-frame bicycles and were, in the past, only meant to be used by boys and men. Once women started to wear bloomers or pants, they also began to sometimes use the diamond-framed bikes.
Today, people don't usually refer to bicycles as "men's" or "women's" bicycles, but those looking for bikes should consider looking for "women's" bicycles if they can't find anything referring to the frame-type in store or online. However, most businesses have swapped out "men's" or "women's" for the actual frame names. That means that seniors or their family members should be able to find "step-thru" bikes or "low-step" bicycles relatively easily online or in person in a store.
There are many advantages of step-thru bikes that makes them popular for people of all ages. Some of the common advantages that seniors may appreciate include:
For seniors, one of the perks of choosing a step-thru bike is safety, but it is also the convenience of the frame. Those who choose a step-thru frame are less likely to hit their legs on the frame, meaning there is a lower chance of bruising. Additionally, with the restructured frame, a rider's posture can look straighter on a step-thru bike, which is beneficial for the elderly in particular.
There can be disadvantages to using a step-thru bike. One of the main disadvantages is that step-through designs can potentially be heavier than a diamond-frame bicycle because it has to have a stronger structure throughout the remaining piping. That can include additional gussets or thicker-gauge tubing.
Another main disadvantage is that the structural design might be more prone to lower pedaling efficiency (although this is completely irrelevant for those choosing eBikes, since eBikes offer some pedal assistance or full electrical motion).
Step-thru bikes may have fewer locations for accessories or the need for specialized accessories, and they can be more difficult to carry since the bikes have a more off-center point of gravity.
Seniors who are considering step-thru bikes need to be cautious and make sure the bike is light enough for them. Ebikes can weigh several pounds more than typical bikes due to the weight of their batteries, which is a consideration to keep in mind.
The interesting thing about bike frames is that they're not all the same even within the step-thru category. Step-through frames fall into different shapes. Two common variations are mixte and cross frames.
Mixte frames are unique step-thru frames because the top tube of the diamond frame is removed. Instead, there are two smaller tubes that drop down and connect to the rear axle instead. They are set lower on the seat tube, allowing for easier step-overs. Interestingly, this kind of frame still has a diamond-frame geometry despite the slight difference in the angle.
Cross frames are another kind of step-thru frame. The two tubes that make up the frame create a cross (thus the name), and each bicycle connects only at the seat tube and head tube (the tube where the handlebars are mounted).
Step-thru bikes can be used by anyone at any age, but they are particularly good for seniors. They're the right choice to consider for reasons such as:
Every senior is in a different position health-wise, so it's important for them to take a look at several different step-thru bikes before buying one. It can also be helpful to look into step-thru bikes they can rent, so they can have an opportunity to test them before they make a purchase.
With the right bicycle, it's easier for seniors to stay active and fit, so they improve their mobility and can continue to enjoy outdoor activities.
Seniors who are looking to buy a step-thru bike should first get to know a few of the terms that they'll come across. Here are some common eBike glossary terms and definitions to help.
These are the most common terms seniors will come across that they should know about.
When they shop for eBikes, they should look for the following:
Overall, it's important to make sure that the bicycle a senior is considering is one that is comfortable and easy to use. They should always test the bicycle before they buy it, or, if the bicycle can be returned, test it at home for a period of time before deciding to keep it. The best step-thru bicycle for one person may not be the right fit for another, so a good test period is a must.
There are all kinds of eBikes on the market, so it can be hard to determine which one is the right one to buy. To make it a little easier, check out these five popular models that are at various price points. These have different colors, styles, and features, but all offer battery support when riding. That battery support can help seniors if they start to feel too tired after pedaling themselves or if they just want to get from one place to another without getting too exhausted on the ride.
The Electra Cruiser Go! Women's Step-Thru Electric Bike is available in three colors, Bora Bora Blue, Coral Sunset, and Galactic Black. This eBike comes in one size and is suitable for women between 5'2" and 6'1".
As an eBike, this one falls into Class I with pedal assist up to 20 mph. It has a Hyena 250-watt motor and a battery capacity of 250 watt hours. Additionally, the bike itself weighs between 44 and 49 pounds.
To keep riders comfortable, the bicycle has an ergonomic saddle with shock-absorbing elastomers. It has 26 x 2.35-inch tires and patented flat-foot technology that ensures rides have a relaxed pedaling position. When coming to a stop, riders should be able to place both feet flat on the ground.
The battery is fully integrated for balance, and it can be charged completely in four hours. It powers the 250-watt Hyena rear-hub motor that has three levels of support. It's possible to get to assisted speeds of 20 mph for up to 40 miles at a time.
For seniors looking for a lower frame, this one is a little taller than other step-thru bikes at a standover height of 55.1 inches.
The XP Step-Thru 3.0 eBike is a good choice for those who would like to fold up an eBike and take it on trips. It also has a passenger package, so two people can ride together (with a limit of 150 lbs on the passenger support).
The bicycle has a 1,000-watt peak rear-hub motor and a 48V lithium-ion battery that has both standard and long-range options. Hydraulic disc brakes and 180mm rotors keep stops smooth.
The XP is set apart with its Lectric Pedal-Assist Wattage Regulation, also called Lectric PWR™. This helps boost the bike's range and efficiency.
The eBike's tires are 20" x 3" and have slime installed to prevent flat tires. A custom saddle and ergonomic grips, combined with a suspension fork and freewheel, keep the ride smooth and comfortable. Interchangeable batteries are available, or riders can charge the battery without removing it.
Seniors who want a lighter eBike may find this bike to be heavy at an estimated 64 lbs plus 7 lbs of battery weight.
For a comfortable ride, seniors may enjoy using the Velotric Discover 1 Bike. It comes in multiple colors such as Sky Blue, Cyan, Indigo Gray, Silver, and Mango. This commuter's eBike is designed for use on city streets, concrete and bike paths. It can top 20 mph (up to 25 mph when unlocked). It can also reach a distance of 65 miles when on pedal assist or 55 miles on throttle.
Using the Velopower H50, it has consistent performance and is a part of the Class II eBike class with both pedal assist and throttle controls. It weighs between 63 and 65 pounds with its battery and is considered an "all-rounder" for commuting, exercise, and recreational rides.
Seniors will appreciate that the reinforced aluminum step-thru bike is easy to get on and off. It has an ergonomic design with a focus on a straight-back design for better posture during a ride. It has double hydraulic-disc brakes and comes with a walk mode for hills.
Weight Range: Up to 440 lbs. payload capacity, 33 lbs. front rack capacity, 55 lbs. rear rack capacity.
The Beaumont Rev. eBike is designed for city use and for daily cruises. It has start-assist technology to prevent wobbly starts, and seniors can expect to go up to 37 miles on one charge. A pedal-assist function provides a boost when on hills. The bike can reach speeds of up to 20 mph.Available in Blush and Eggshell colors, the eBike has a powerful 36V, 350W motor and battery to help riders get from place to place while looking great.
This best-selling vintage-styled bicycle has a step-through frame that is designed for accessibility. It has an integrated battery and swept-back handlebars for an upright seated position. An LED control panel is conveniently located on the front handlebars, allowing seniors (or other riders) to monitor the bike's charge, choose a pedal-assist level, or select "Start Aid" to get a boost during the first few pedal strokes. A thumb throttle places all power at an easy-to-reach location.
The Beaumont eBike can suit individuals between 5' and 5'10". it has a slightly higher standover height of 19.35 inches, which could be difficult for some individuals. The bike is slightly lighter than some others at 57.5 lbs including the battery weight.
Seniors have many options when it comes to purchasing an eBike. eBikes come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and styles. While step-thru eBikes are the best for those with limited mobility or issues with flexibility, they can also be great for those who want to mount and dismount quickly or who like the idea of having a bicycle that won't catch on their clothing or be too difficult to pedal back after a shopping trip.
EBikes are a great choice for seniors thanks to powerful batteries and pedal-assist features. They don't have to worry about biking too far away to get back home comfortably, letting them exercise without fear of getting stuck. With relatively low speeds of between 20 mph and 25 mph for most eBikes, they're speedy but not so fast that they put people at a great risk of injury—that's just one more benefit of these fantastic bicycles.
For those interested in eBikes (and particularly step-thru eBikes), it's important to test them out before making a purchase. Finding the right eBike means choosing one with the correct weight and step-through height, comfort features, and cost. Fortunately, there are many options, so seniors can find the bikes they like and get moving again.
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