Green wheels for older riders

by Andy Bryenton

We’ve all heard of the ‘born again biker’, the older gentleman who wants to relive the glory days of his youth by purchasing a powerful motorcycle and hitting the highway for adventure. There’s a new trend for older citizens getting out and about on two wheels, and internal combustion is not a factor.

The growing popularity of e-bikes, (bicycles with electric motors to assist with power on the hills and long journeys) has found a niche with people who are active and above 65. Without the need to commute to work, many journeys for retired folks are to visit friends or head to clubs and events. At the same time, doctors enthuse about gentle cardio exercise and advocate the low impact possibilities of getting on a bike. Combine this with the relative inexpensiveness of modern e-bikes, and you have the beginnings of a phenomenon. It’s one that is already very popular overseas.

It can seem a bit daunting. Many people have not gotten on a ‘pushbike’ since they got their first car. However, the old saying is true.

It does all come back, and those doctors are correct. The kind of gentle exercise offered by cycling at sedate (not Tour De France) pace can be very beneficial. There’s the bonus that this form of transport uses no petrol, and can be very social.

Here in New Zealand, the e-bike revolution seems perfectly tailored for the relatively flat land of the Canterbury region. Consider Auckland’s snarl of traffic-filled streets or Wellington’s chopped up hilly terrain, and you’ll see why e-bikes are eminently more suited for the south. Older citizens choosing an electric bike face a massive array of choices, however. The key things to look for are comfort, battery life, ease of charging and use, and durability. Also, consider a step-through frame to make mounting and dismounting easier. As in any bike, good welds and solid construction count for a lot! These days you’ll also find bikes with wider, more stable wheels, shock absorbers and disc brakes to make things safer.

Test ride a few and talk to your local bike dealer. With so many older people getting back on two wheels, they will have recommendations as to some affordable favourites.