Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about three-wheeled bicycles? I’m 65 years old and would like to start cycling again, but I have some occasional balance problems and don’t trust myself on a two-wheeler. What can you recommend? — Ready to Ride
Three-wheeled bikes — also known as adult trikes — are a great cycling option for older adults, especially those who have concerns with their balance or stamina. Here’s what you should know, along with some tips to help you shop for one.
If you’d like to take up or continue bike riding, but worry about falling, adult trikes are a smart option to consider because of the stability they provide. With a trike you can ride as slow as you want without ever losing your balance, and you can put both feet on the ground while seated, which is reassuring for many older riders.
In addition, adult trikes are also made with a low “step through” design making mounting and dismounting easier. They typically come with big tires that ensure a smooth ride; have ergonomic handlebars that are easy to reach and grip; and offer oversize seats (some even have backrests) for comfort and support. And, other than the frame, tricycles use the same standard components as traditional bikes do, so replacement parts are readily available, and repairs are not an issue.
There are dozens of different types of adult trikes to choose from with prices ranging anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. To help you figure out the right kind of trike that meets your needs and budget, here’s a breakdown of the different styles and costs, along with some popular models to check out.
If you’re primarily interested in a leisurely ride around the neighborhood for pleasure, fitness or running errands, upright trikes are a good choice. These are traditional upright-positioned tricycles that come with rear cargo baskets and limited gear options, usually ranging from one to three speeds.
A great choice in this category is the Sun traditional trike (see Sun.bike/trikes), which costs between $440 and $550. Or, for a less expensive option, consider the Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle, sold at Walmart, Target or Amazon.com for around $300.
These are the low-to-the-ground, stretched-out frame trikes that allow you to recline with your legs positioned in front of you. Available in various styles, recumbent trikes are comfy, easy on the back and aerodynamic, which makes them ideal for longer rides.
TerraTrikes (Terratrike.com) and Catrike (Catrike.com) are two of the biggest U.S. companies that make tadpole-style (the two wheels are in front) recumbent trikes. Or see Sun Seeker (Sunseeker.bike), which sells several Delta recumbent trikes (two wheels in back) that offer a higher seat level. But be aware that recumbent trikes are much more expensive, typically ranging between $1,000 and $4,000.
If you want a boost from time to time, electric trikes are a great option, too. These trikes are hybrids that have pedals and a battery-powered electric motor, so you can exercise when you want; or, when you need a boost, you can let the motor assist you. A great place to find these is at ElectricTrike.com, which offers a variety of options ranging from $1,500 to $3,000. You can also find them on e-bike sites like PedegoElectricBikes.com, ProdecoTech.com and Evelo.com.
If you like to travel or if you have limited storage space, trikes that are designed to fold up to fit in tight spaces are another option. The Kent Adult Westport folding tricycle and Mantis Tri-Rad folding adult tricycle, sold at Amazon.com for around $300, are two popular options to check out.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.