3

My aging mom is looking to start biking to work as a way to stay healthy. But as an aging women she needs certain things so that she feels safe and comfortable riding a bike about 15 minutes each way.

  1. It must be somewhat covered to provide protection from the elements.
  2. 3 wheels would make her feel a lot more safe.
  3. An electric assist would be very helpful.
  4. It can't be super expensive.

Does there exist a bike that matches these requirements or at least designs to create such a bike?

  • I do recall recently seeing an image somewhere of a trike with a rag top and, I vaguely recall, electric assist. Can't remember where I saw it, though -- probably on Facebook. IIRC it was at least partly custom. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 23 '18 at 1:13
  • 1
    What you are describing sounds more like a mobility scooter. – Kim Ryan Apr 23 '18 at 1:29
  • @KimRyan true - but this rider wants to ride to stay healthy. So a mobility scooter won't fill that need for her. – Criggie Apr 23 '18 at 5:15
5

Short Answer

I believe the short answer to your question is no. The first three requirements that you list put you in the 'deeply customized' bicycle neighborhood. This is in direct opposition to your fourth requirement--custom bikes are very expensive. Additionally, without providing information about the climate where you live, local cycling infrastructure (bike paths/lanes/etc.), or your budget, this question is nearly impossible to answer.

Possible Solutions

Nothing makes me happier than people deciding to be healthier by way of bicycle commuting, so I'd like to offer you some ideas about how to get your mother on a bike!

Jumping into commuting can be difficult! I'm not sure how long it's been since your mother was on a bicycle, but it seems like her expectations are divorced from the reality of bike commuting. Does she ride regularly? Can you ride with her on the weekends to build up her experience with modern bicycles and her confidence on the road? I believe that she the following benefits from just getting out on the road:

  1. Strength (no electric assist)
  2. Balance (regular two wheels?)
  3. Familiarity with route, weather, and mechanics of modern bicyles
  4. Confidence

If it isn't possible to ride with her, encourage her to join a local cycling club (if available) and ride with the older group. Once she finds out whether this is something she can commit to (or not), you can start making plans to set her up with a commuting rig!

Other tips:

  • Buy used! (this will keep the cost of gear down)
  • Use a rain suit in the rain
3

Look at how often it rains during her intended commutes. In the Netherlands, which is known for 'always being rainy' you need your waterproofs about 6 days a year when commuting 5 days per week.
A little drizzle should not stop a person from riding when a good coat is used and a hood/hat or helmet with rain cover if a helmet is the norm where you are.

A good set of waterproofs which is easy to put on and take off is more useful than a cover that always catches wind and will likely not protect against rain in side winds.

Plan the route (as far as possible) such that the quiet roads or bicycle paths are used and busy roads are crossed at traffic lights or other 'easy to use' points.

Try out several bikes, rentals or loans for a few days if available.
Have her try out bike seats in different heights.
While she is still unsure about riding, easy access to the ground is good. But the ride will be easier/smoother when the seat is a bit higher up. So I would suggest a bike that allows both, the lower position and the 'proper' high up one.

If she is really not able to ride a two wheeled bike, think about a recumbent trike. Those are available with e-bike tech as well. Not only is the bike stable, also the position of the rider on the bike is stable.
I have used a recumbent trike for 5 years, just for the fun of it, and can certainly recommend it. You are lower down (gives more stability) but you are wider and when viewed really seen.
I would not go for the extremely low ones, but for one about the same height as a dining chair.

Yes, you get wet when it rains, but are you made of sugar?
I survived getting rained on all my life and still commute by bike.

2

Unlikely to match all your requirements.

An adult trike offers exercise, and stability. But they're not overly cheap new.

https://adulttricyclespro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Torker-24-x-20-Inch-TriStar-2.1-Adult-Trike.png

Weather protection comes in the form of a helmet and perhaps a rain poncho, and even knee-high gumboots.

And electrification of these would be limited to a front-wheel kitset only. On the plus side, you can locate the batteries in the cargo tray.

I'm sure you can google for "electric adult trike" and come up with some pricing, but such answers are off topic for SE.

  • 1
    They also make canopys for these, at least the Sun brand does, although with their height they would not protect much from rain coming at an angle but it is an idea, the electric assist is doable as criggie said but it would pricey, if not more than the trike itself. – Nate W Apr 23 '18 at 15:13
  • I would look into a recumbent trike rather than a sit up trike, (also made by Sun as well as many others.) And some come with covers or partial covers. – Willeke Apr 24 '18 at 17:51
2

Most ebikes are not weatherproof.

Some can take a light drizzle but many cannot withstand sustained rain or immersion (such as travel through deep puddles). The problem is the high voltages. It’s hard to weatherproof when you’re operating at 36-72 volts.

The most water resistant are the $5000+ mountain bikes with sealed Bosch mid-drives and Bosch batteries.

But the ebikes that you can get for under $2000 lack the weather sealing needed for truly rainy environments. Just read the reviews on ebike sites.

The same goes for aftermarket kits - such as what would be needed to make an electric assist trike.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.