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How to Pick a Bike for a 50-Year-Old Woman
Whether you are a competitive cyclist or looking for a bike to just get you from point A to point B, shopping for a new ride can be daunting. Most women want a bike that is functional and comfortable. The cycle that worked well when you were 22 may no longer be appropriate at the age of 50.
Determine what you plan to use the bike for most often. Ask yourself if you plan to ride for athletic purposes, to commute or to perform errands. If you do plan to use the bike for competition, consider if you will be doing road rides, mountain biking or triathlons. Also, consider the terrain you will ride on most often – concrete, trail or a combination of the two. No matter how old you are, it is important that your bike type matches its intended use.
You also want to be sure to pick a bike with the proper frame size. Even if you know you were a certain size in your 20s, it is a good idea to retest yourself in case of changes in your stature. A simple way to determine the proper frame size is to straddle the bikes top tube and look for about 1-inch clearance if you are selecting a road bike and 2 inches of clearance for mountain bikes when your feet are on the ground. Recreational bikes – for errands or casual rides – or comfort bikes – featuring cushier seats and more suspension – usually offer a lot of clearance above the top bar by design. When measuring frame size, you should wear shoes for accuracy.
After you know your frame size, evaluate the height and comfort of the seat and handlebars. While seated with your feet in the pedals, you should have a slight bend to your knee when the leg is fully extended. Most seats can be adjusted up or down to fit the majority of bodies, but if you are especially petite or tall you may have to look for specialized bicycles. You should also test the comfort of the handlebars. As you age, the bone strength and muscle elasticity and tone diminish – making your back more vulnerable to aches and injury. Ensure the handlebars are at a comfortable height and distance from your torso. You do not want them to cause you to overstretch, which can cause back pain.
A bicycle is a personal item. The brand and model that works well for one person may not fit another person’s needs. No one bike is right for every 50-year-old woman. The best way to pick a bike for any age is to shop around and test ride as many bikes as possible. Before visiting stores, have a price point in mind as well. You don’t want to find the perfect bike only to find out it costs several hundred dollars more than you are willing to spend.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
- Ho SS, Dhaliwal SS, Hills AP, Pal S. The effect of 12 weeks of aerobic, resistance or combination exercise training on cardiovascular risk factors in the overweight and obese in a randomized trial. BMC Public Health. 2012;12:704. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-704
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.