Best Cruiser Bikes for Older Women – Baby Boomers
by Christina Gregoire
You're a Baby Boomer? You want something that's low-impact exercise... because all your bones hurt when it's cold? You want something like your old Schwinn bicycle? Well, look for a cruiser bike with a low step-through.
After reading an article by Helen Smeaton, a fellow Boomerina, I decided to borrow my neighbor’s Amsterdam-style bicycle. Well, her "comfort" bike turned out to be a bit too high for me and I had a minor crash. However, I liked the feeling of being on a bicycle, so I went out and bought a new cruiser bike for myself.
And, I love my bike. So, I made a list of great cruiser bikes... so the rest of you Boomer Babes can have the same fun that I have (as long as some racing biker doesn't freak me out and make me crash... which happens less and less as I get more comfortable on my new toy).
Why did I make a list... why don't I just tell you to buy what I bought? Well, everyone likes something different because everyone's bod is different, and everyone rides differently.
Cycling Is Low Impact Exercise
I’ve had two major neck surgeries and I can only walk "so far" before my neck starts to hurt from the impact of each step. Sure, I am able to mitigate the pain by wearing jogging shoes and walking on dirt or grass, but walking still gives me problems.
Well, I’ve discovered that riding a bike is just about the only low-impact exercise that I don’t detest. I hate indoor cycling on a stationary bike because I feel like I’m “spinning my wheels” and not going anywhere.
I hate walking in a pool because it makes me feel like a dork. And, I can’t swim because moving my arms for the crawl is excruciating and doing the breaststroke is worse because I’m forced to hold my head up in an awkward position.
So, as long as I can keep from crashing into people, biking is my new favorite thing. And, cycling is the only exercise program that I've liked enough to continue for more than a few weeks. (Note: I should tell you that this is my first bike. Well, in all honesty, I had a red Schwinn when I was little, but I was only allowed to ride my bike on our "fairly long" driveway.)
What Is a Baby Boomer Bicycle?
The kind of bike I bought is similar to the bikes you see when you go to Amsterdam. My new bicycle is shaped like an old Schwinn girl’s bike…you know…without the crossbar that goes right between your legs. (Funny…wouldn’t it be worse for boys to have that bar there if they jumped off wrong…I’m just sayin’…)
But, these days, instead of calling a bike with no bar “a girl’s bike,” they call it a step-through bike. Hey, I call it a European city bike, because I’ve seen both men and women riding this style around big cities in Europe.
Step-through bikes mean that you can step “through” the frame to get on them. What I mean is that you don’t have to swing your leg over a bar to mount or dismount your ride. Sometimes, the Amsterdam style of bike is called a Beach Cruiser, although I understand that Cruiser is used in a somewhat derogatory and condescending manner by speed-racer cyclists. Well, I don’t give a frog fart what others think. I love my bike because:
- I can plant my feet firmly (absolutely flat) on the ground when I’m sitting on my bike.
- The tires on my bike are a bit wider, so I can (almost) totally balance even when I’m stopped.
- I can get off my bike quickly if I’m about to smash into a guardrail…although I did hit one at a low speed when I overextended my ability and started shaking…I forgot to take the pills that stop my hands from shaking. Don’t do that!
And, since I have almost no cycling experience, knowing that I can put my feet on the ground gives me more confidence. So, I ride more often. And, the more I ride, the better my balance gets.
List of Cruiser Bikes With Good Reviews
Most cruiser bikes for older people are meant to be ridden in an upright position, so look for high handlebars if your back kills you when you’re hunched over for more than a few minutes. And, when researching bikes, you really have to pay attention, because everyone calls their bikes something different.
Some people call these bicycles cruisers, some say comfort bikes, some say commuter bikes…and you have to figure out what all these similar words mean to the person describing various types of bicycles.
The kind of bike you want will have a shock-absorbing seat, a comfortable saddle, and a pair of wide tires. If you like old-school handlebars, those are called "sweptback" handlebars.
Not everyone feels comfortable on the same bike, and you need to actually sit on (and ride on) a bike to determine if the design is a good fit. For example, my husband has tried my absolutely wonderful Electra Townie bike and he doesn’t like it. On the other hand, I don’t like his bike. So, with that in mind, here are several bikes that get good online reviews:
- Electra Townie: The Townie has a padded seat and is designed to be ridden in a comfortable, upright position. The bike I bought is a baby-blue Townie with 7 speeds. I also considered the Electra Amsterdam.
- Giant Lifestyle Cruisers: I would try the Giant Simple Women's Bike or the Sedona.
- Public Cruiser Bikes: Public bikes get great reviews and recommendations...and they are super cute.
- Sun Bicycles Streamway: Sun Bicycles have the lowest, easiest entry I’ve ever seen, and if you have hip problems, this bike might be your best solution. From what I've found during my research, it looks like these bikes can only be bought in a "real" store, although one site said they had delivery.
- Johnny Loco Dutch Delight: Johnny Locos are Dutch designs made in China.
- Torker Big T Cargo Bike: The Torker site calls this an industrial-strength bike and it would definitely be good for transporting groceries or other necessities.
Good Comfort Bikes Under $500:
If you have limited funds, you will have to decide if you are better off getting a new bike or a used bike. I suppose it depends on the condition of the used bike. Note: If a bike is difficult to pedal, it might mean the frame has been bent in a crash.
- Novara Jaunt XX Women's Bike: Anything sold at REI will be good quality. Even though I've never tried this bike, I would not hesitate to buy any product sold at REI.
- LL Bean’s Runaround Cruiser Bike: I've read that this is actually a Schwinn bike, but the seat and handlebars are fully adjustable, and they move up or down and tilt backwards or forwards.
- Specialized Low Entry Sport Expedition: Another good Specialized bike is the Women’s Globe Carmel 2.
- Nirve Women’s Cruiser Bikes: Nirve has several different styles and the Nirve Lahaina Women's Bike gets good reviews overall.
- Diamondback Serene Citi Classic: I’ve read that the seat tilts back, so this bike is easier on your knees.
- Felt Women’s Cruiser Bicycle: Felt is well known for great quality racing bikes.
- Schwinn Women’s Cruiser Bikes: If you need a cheaper bike, a new Schwinn can be bought for under $200, but I understand that they are not the same quality as the bikes of our youth. On the other hand, they are easy to find and they get fairly good reviews.
- Trek Cruisers: Trek has discontinued making cruisers, but their 2012 bikes are still online. Also, you might find a used Trek on Craig's List. Treks get great reviews.
European City Bikes
If you've seen the Amsterdam train station with its zillions of bikes, you might want to try something like they use in Europe.
I've never ridden any of these bikes, but I understand that they are very sturdy and they can be quite heavy. However, the people in Amsterdam are bike crazy and they've been using bikes for transportation forever, so they might know something we don't.
- Royal Dutch Gazelle Basic Oma: This "granny bike" comes with a cool skirt-guard, which keeps your clothing from getting caught in the spokes. Another popular bike is the Gazelle Toer Populair T3. Made in the Netherlands.
- Kronan Bicycles and Skeppshultbikes: Both of these are made in Sweden.
- Vanmoof Bike: This Dutch bike is shown with the "Sexy Waitress" front carrier.
- Batavus Old Dutch de Luxe: Cool Batavus bikes are made in the Netherlands.
- Velorbis Bicycle: These are classic, vintage bikes made in Germany.
- Kettler Women's Verso Capri Cruiser Bike: This bike is affordable, but if you want a high-end, fancy-dancy bike, Kettler has those, too. Made in Germany.
Everyone Likes Different Kinds of Bikes
You may love something like my Electra Townie bike or you may prefer a different bike design. For example, my bike has hand brakes not back-pedal (coaster) brakes...and you may only need one speed if you always stay on flat, paved bike paths.
To get specifics and more reviews, try googling different combinations of the following phrases, because all the sites use different terminology:
- * Comfort Bike
- * Step Through or Low Entry Bike (Technically, recumbent bikes and tricycles are also step throughs.)
- * Beach Cruiser Bike or Cruiser Bike
- * Commuter Bike or City Bike
- * Amsterdam Bike or Dutch Bike
- * Lady Bicycle or Old Lady Bicycle (seriously)
- * Upright Bicycle
- * Cargo Bike
If possible, you should go to a local bike shop, get fitted, and ride your bike around the parking lot (at the least). Actually, you should try more than one store. Tell the bike people your concerns, such as: arthritis in your hands, problems with your hips or knees, spinal stenosis, etc. Also, let them know if you will be lugging your bike up the stairs or lifting it into a car. Someone once described dragging a bike up the stairs as, "Like to trying to get your drunken friend home."
After you know what you want, go home and look online to see if you can get the bike at a cheaper price. Basically, you will have to decide if you prefer a cheaper price or attentive, personal service from a local dealer. Note: I've already taken my bike in to be realigned after my fender-bender. However, now that I know my size, I might buy my next bicycle online.
I'm fairly certain that one of the bikes on this list (or something similar) will make you happy. Most of us just want to ride. We don't care how fast we go. We just want some kind of exercise that doesn't hurt.
More Articles for Baby Boomers:
Photo Credits: Prshots.com & Flickr Creative Commons.
- Main Photo: Maegan Tintari.
- Best Cruiser Bikes Boomerinas.com: LaRedoute.
- Best Bikes for Baby Boomers Over 50: Photo Vintage Schwinn ad with Doris Day.
- List of Cruiser Beach Bikes: LaRedoute.
- Comfort Bikes for Women: White Stuff.
- City Commuter Bicycles for Women: Mayhem.
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