More and more recumbent bikes are showing up on the trails, streets and at events than ever before. That may not be so surprising as they are catching on in the cycling community. What is somewhat interesting is the number of mature riders confidently seated on these “bent bikes.” Seniors! Boomers! A force to be reckoned with and one not willing to go easily into the sunset, unless seated on their favorite recumbent.
When it comes to exercise, most consider it a drudgery and not something to look forward to. With the onset of bodies that begin to ache in places they didn’t before, and knees, hips, necks and fingers aren’t quite as supple, movement becomes an issue. So alternatives to lifting weights, doing push-ups, aerobics, Zumba classes, Yoga, are yearned for by many.
One of the exercises surrendered by many, yet one of the first to be enjoyed in youth is riding a bike. Here again there is both the pro and con. Riding that typical Cruiser bike, or any other, usually found that in short order the seat became uncomfortable and back to the garage it went. Good exercise to be sure at any age. Yet referring back to physical issues of age gives way to searching for those more sedate methods of meeting that need.
But it doesn’t have to. And this is why there is a significant number of “mature riders” being seen on recumbent bikes and trikes. The truth be known, there are more “Boomers” on recumbent trikes than ever. Find any trail and chances are you’re going to see as many retired riders on recumbent trikes as recumbent bikes.
Now that’s not just hearsay, as this rider/writer has witnessed this on many trails, events and gatherings in several states. So what is this saying about recumbent bikes and trikes?
To begin with, the best recumbent bikes for seniors are the ones they’ll ride. What’s even more interesting, more than a few build their own. Why? It’s all about comfort when riding. It really is that simple. That comes first from a seat that is more like sitting on a chair, as opposed to one seeking to discover the innermost parts of the southbound anatomy.
Now some have never graduated from a cruiser bike, but that sensation is still one all know that have ridden more than a few miles on just about any bike. For those who have ridden road bikes or mountain bikes, add the discomfort of numb wrists, hands, fingers and sore necks, not to mention backs.
The design of the diamond frame bike unfortunately does not eliminate these discomforts, rather it can correctly be said it ads to them. A prime example would be riding for 50 miles on any of those three bikes just mentioned, be it cruiser, road or mountain bike.
Let’s further put to the test just an ordinary rider, and not some CAT 1 athlete or even the one who goes out daily for a 10 or 15 mile circuit. Just the weekender out for a jaunt around the park, or a few miles in the neighborhood. Maybe that describes you, especially if you are a mature rider.
How many of those would even finish 50 miles? The answer? Not one! Any reading this will know this is true, if you have ever ridden for more than 5 or 10 miles on the typical bike. Painful!
Now, let’s suggest the same scenario on a recumbent bike or trike. The same 50 miles with the same type of rider. Who want’s to wager wether or not they would or could finish the ride?
“The proof is in the puddin’!” is a saying that puts this in perspective. Such a ride was done, with riders as described, just none that could qualify as “mature” or “silverhair” other than yours truly. (The writer doesn’t count as he was 58 and already a seasoned recumbent rider)
Here’s the point. So much less energy and effort is used on a recumbent bike, that this sort of ride on flat terrain is absolutely possible. Now, put a mature rider on a recumbent trike, where balance is not an issue either, and you have a scenario repeated many times on any given weekend.
Hampton’s Edge Trailside Bike Shop is located in Floral City, Florida, right off the Withlacoochee Trail. This is a 48 mile paved, converted railroad bed in north central Florida. Regis Hampton, owner and proprietor, could attest to this ride, not that it’s necessary. He could also bear witness to the number of recumbents purchased, or rented, by mature riders from his shop.
So finding the best recumbent bike/trike for seniors is the one, as mentioned earlier, they will ride. That one they get excited about, and are willing to make jaunts to go places and see things that they may have denied themselves otherwise.
How do they find that special one? Their seat on the seat…of a recumbent. It may be a Day 6 semi-recumbent, a Sun EZ Tri Classic Recumbent Trike for those where getting down low is an issue. It could also be the Sun EZ-Tadole Recumbent Trike, or the Catrike Villager, or one of the many long wheel base two wheel recumbents.
Lastly you will find many options when it comes to what the bike is made of, meaning Cromolly steel, Aluminum, Titanium or Carbon Fiber, or as in the case on the Rans R-84 a combination Carbon Fiber and Titanium.
In every case it is an issue of weight, stability, ride and longevity of the bike made from those materials. Then there are components to take into consideration, as there are combinations for beginners that are more economic, or for those ready to plop down the cash there are of course the top of the line, with disc brakes, panniers, trailers, recumbent clothing and so much more.
Some refer to recumbents as “Boomer Bikes.” There are many in the group riding recumbents, as retirement and discretionary income make it possible. Is that you? Even if not, as one we may call “mature” finding a recumbent bike or trike that suits you will accomplish several things, and all to your advantage. Exercise you will enjoy. As a result your overall fitness level has a much better chance of improving. That may be what makes life more enjoyable, not to mention longer! so as the motto goes, “Riding recumbent means never having to say you’re sore!”