Baby Boomer Exercise: Comfort Bikes
I spent some money this week on a “comfort bike.” This was an exercise and baby boomer lifestyle decision that needed to be made. I will explain my logic.
I started doing some research on bikes that would be best for my situation. I was not planning on riding trails in the mountains or taking extensive road trips. During my research, I discovered a newer bike category: “Comfort Bikes.”
Although there is no official definition, a comfort bike is a bicycle designed for general-purpose riding and commuting on a variety of surfaces, including paved and unpaved roads, paths and trails. A comfort bike will combine road bike and mountain bike features. The design is focused more on comfort and less on speed.
I chose a particular comfort bike design that catered to my needs. First, the frame, seat, crank and handlebar geometry positions the rider upright while pedaling. No hunching over to ride. Also, an upright body position makes it easier to see what is going on around you.
Second, my comfort bike has a distinct “crank forward” design so that when the bike is stopped, both feet can rest flat on the ground. This is a confidence booster for the older cyclist.
Third, the front fork includes shock absorbers for smoothing out the ride when you hit a bump on or off the road.
Fourth, the bike has 700 cm tires which are wide enough to ride on gravel roads and trails, something I will be doing at our condo when it is finished. These tires are wider than road bike tires but do not have the knobby tread pattern used on mountain bikes. Therefore, road riding is reasonably comfortable as well.
After much research, the comfort bike I purchased is called the “Electra Townie 21.” As the name implies, it is geared for 21 different speeds so I can use it for biking up and down moderate hills if I need to.
I bought the bike at REI. I had to order it. The bike manager at the store said the Townie was very popular and they couldn’t keep the bike in stock. I am in a 30 day trial now, during which I can take the bike back no questions asked.
So far I am enjoying the comfort bike. I have started slowly, taking 2-4 mile rides through local neighborhoods in the morning plus occasional rides to the grocery store to pick up food for dinner. (Yes, I am wearing a helmet.)
The real test will be riding the bike on the gravel roads and dirt trails at Long Branch Lakes. It should be interesting.
Are any of you using bicycling as a primary form of exercise? Have you tried a comfort bike?
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