Electric bikes have spent the better part of the last decade making a significant impact in the world of personal transportation (or three decades depending on who you ask). However, despite their booming popularity, there still exists a number of myths around these innovative forms of alternative transportation. One of the most common misconceptions is that electric bikes are for older riders or those with mobility issues.
I keep thinking this will be the year we roll past this myth, and yet it continues to rear its head in e-bike discourse across the US. And it couldn’t be further from the truth! Let’s debunk this myth and shine a light on the universal appeal and benefits of e-bikes for people of all ages.
Myth: E-bikes are only for the elderly
It’s easy to see how this myth has developed. The added assistance that an e-bike provides can be incredibly beneficial for older folks or those with mobility issues. And in the early years, it was true that older riders made up a lion’s share of e-bike sales.
Companies like Pedego have spent over a decade developing a retail-based approach to teaching customers – originally largely older folks – about e-bikes in their brick-and-mortar shops. It was a move that inspired confidence by testing a range of models and got many people back out riding who had given it up years ago. And ten years ago, silver-haired Pedego riders on electric beach cruiser bikes smiling in e-bike ads were one of the first places that many people learned what an e-bike was. Perhaps that is part of where the misconception came from (and to be fair, Pedego’s models have greatly expanded into several cool, fun new models that target younger riders).
However, to say e-bikes are only for this demographic is a significant oversight.
For the young and adventurous
E-bikes offer an exciting blend of traditional cycling with serious infusion of technological advancement. For younger riders this means longer rides, climbing steeper hills with less fatigue, the ability to pair your phone or GPS with your e-bike, and lots of customization opportunities. Companies like SUPER73 have even built an entire culture around modifying and customizing e-bikes, with riders using their e-bikes as an extension of their personalities to show off their unique aesthetics and designs.
For those that didn’t grow up on a bike, e-bikes also serve as a fantastic introduction to the world of cycling, providing a confidence-boosting assist for beginners.
Younger generations are also increasingly eco-conscious, which makes sense as we see ever more clearly the destruction that is being done to our world. E-bikes offer a sustainable alternative to cars by reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a healthier planet.
And when you consider the tighter wallets that younger generations have compared to their parents’ generations, e-bikes also make sense as an alternative to the rising costs of car ownership. More on that in a moment!
For the fitness enthusiasts
Many people believe that riding an e-bike doesn’t provide a workout. This, too, is a myth. Not only has this myth been broken by anyone who “feels the burn” on an e-bike in low power mode, but countless studies have disproven the myth by demonstrating the exercise benefits of e-bikes.
Yes, e-bikes do offer assistance, but unless relying entirely on a throttle, the rider is still active and engaged. If you want more of a workout, you can adjust the level of assist to match your fitness goals or just based on how much effort you want to put into a ride on any given day. Higher assistance can help on thigh-cramping climbs or longer rides, while lower assistance can give you more of a workout.
In fact, I never considered myself a cyclist but over time I found the joy of cycling without any electric assist only after getting an e-bike and improving my own cycling.
For urban dwellers
E-bikes can be a game-changer for city dwellers of all ages. They’re faster than walking, more flexible than public transportation, and less stressful than driving in traffic. Plus, with compact, folding models readily available, storage in smaller apartments is less of an issue.
At risk of repeating myself, e-bikes make excellent car replacements for so many reasons. The costs savings are often touted as one of the main reasons for replacing a car with an e-bike, but don’t discount the shorter trips times due to skipping past traffic or the added fun of turning a commute slog into a joy ride!
In fact, I live my life largely car-free thanks to e-bikes (though I also rely on electric scooters and electric motorcycles, to be fair).
E-bikes and the elderly: A match made in heaven
While I think it’s fairly obvious now that e-bikes are not exclusively for the elderly, it’s worth reiterating how beneficial they can be for older riders.
E-bikes can help elderly individuals maintain an active lifestyle while providing a sense of independence. They offer a safe, low-impact exercise that can be customized to individual fitness levels. The added assist allows for longer rides without the risk of overexertion, promoting heart health and overall fitness. A new wave of electric trikes is even bringing electric biking to those without the balance to ride a two-wheeler.
Moreover, e-bikes are a fantastic way for older people to connect with nature and their communities. They can explore local parks, visit friends, or simply enjoy a leisurely ride, all while benefiting from fresh air and sunshine.
I’ve put both my parents on e-bikes, and it’s amazing to see the smiles on their faces each time they hop on the saddle. There’s just something about feeling the boost beneath you that transcends physical age and connects with people on an emotional basis. If you haven’t seen an e-grin yet, put a parent or friend on an e-bike and you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about. That first ride just brings something out in people and it’s a beautiful sight to see.
Electric bikes are a diverse and flexible mode of transportation that simply transcends age demographics.
They provide a boost for those who need it, an adventurous ride for thrill-seekers, a fitness tool for exercise enthusiasts, and a practical solution for urban commuters.
So whether you’re young or just young at heart, there’s an e-bike out there that’s perfect for you. Let’s move beyond the myths and embrace the two-wheeled electric revolution for all ages!
Author: Micah Toll