We all know that it is a good idea for seniors to stay active. Physical activity helps both the mind and body stay sharp. Research has proven it. But, what activities should you consider? Many seniors and elderly folks are turning to adult tricycles or trikes as a source of recreation and exercise.
The best 3 wheel bikes for seniors are those that are easy to ride, easy to get on and off, and comfortable to ride. Because they have an extra wheel, these bikes are more stable than their 2 wheeled cousins. This makes them easier and safer to use for seniors with balance problems. Another benefit is you can get outside for some fresh air while getting some exercise!
Of course, you should consult with a physician or medical provider before starting any new exercise programs. This includes bike riding. You should make sure any activity you are considering is safe for you to participate in.
Special Note Regarding Availability of 3 Wheel Bikes
As of today, May 1, 2020, stock is very tight on many 3 wheel bike models including several of my top picks. I did some research today and found these models in stock (for the moment at least!) Keep reading for more information.
Video Guide to 3 Wheel Bikes for Seniors
Reviews of Adult Trikes
Looking for a new bike for a senior you love or for yourself? Then, these reviews of the best 3 wheel bikes for seniors will help you find the perfect trike for you!
Schwinn is a bike brand that every generation is familiar with. As a matter of fact, they have been making bicycles since 1895. So, it’s no surprise they make one of the best adult trikes on the market. This upright three wheel bike for seniors (and other adults!) comes in 5 colors. This bike is a great choice for active seniors who need a light, easy to use bike that can stand up to daily use. There are also a lot of accessories that can be used to customize this bike like wider seats, horns, mirrors, flags and more!
- Lightweight aluminum frame makes it easier to maneuver
- Single speed bike so no need to worry about changing gears
- Low, easy to step through frame
- Comes with a folding basket for hauling groceries and other items
- Full fenders to reduce splash and mess
- Front and back brakes are hand operated which may be difficult with severe arthritis
- You need a good indoor place to store the bike like a garage or outbuilding. The back wheels are too wide for smaller doorways.
- Assembly is required. Takes a few hours with basic tools. Most reviewers said it was easy to do.
Video: Schwinn Meridian Assembly Guide
In the semi-recumbent three wheel bike category, I really like the Mobo Shift. It is very similar to the hand peddled bikes I use with some of my paraplegic customers. The attention-grabbing style of this bike makes it good for seniors with balance issues or who are at risk for falling from a higher bike.
This is also one of the few adult trikes that has a reverse gear. With other models you have to pedal in a circle to change directions.
It is also a good choice for people with arthritis in the hands and shoulders. Hips and knees should be fairly mobile though for peddling the bike. It comes in 4 colors.
NOTE: There is a less expensive version called the Mobo Triton. But, it is a youth sized bike and it isn’t really clear from the description.
- Helps with balance because it is low to the ground
- Adjustable frame fits users from 4’2″ to 6’3″
- Cushioned seat with full backrest for comfort and support
- Lever style steering is easier on arthritic joints
- Includes a flag for maximum visibility
- Because this bike is low to the ground, make sure the user can get up from such a low position or has help available if needed
Here’s a quick video showing it in action:
Raleigh Torker Tristar 3 Speed Trike
The Raleigh Bikes Tristar 3-Speed Trike is one of the more expensive options on the marketplace. However, with the added price, you are getting a lot of value. Not only does this bike feature a Sturmey Archer 3-speed internal geared hub which means less maintenance throughout the ownership of the bike, but it also comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame of the bike.
The bike comes with a steel step-through frame which can make it ideal for those that are limited in mobility like seniors and elderly looking to get in more exercise.
This is one of the most complete 3-wheel bikes you will find on the market. It offers an ideal ride experience for seniors due to the shock absorption and it offers a rear rack that is designed to hold up to 45 pounds for extra storage. This makes the bike a viable option to ride around town in to not only get exercise but also to pick up groceries and to run errands.
Because the bike features a 24-inch wheel in the front and two 20 inch wheels in the back, it is capable of providing a stable ride but it is also easily transported through doorways which makes it easy to store the bike in your garage or home.
Video: Raleigh Tristar Demonstration
UPDATE MAY 1, 2020: stock on three wheeled bikes is tight right now and many models are out of stock including my next 3 top picks. So, I did some quick research today and found these options for you that are available (for the moment at least!):
Stowaway 3-Speed Tricycle with Rear Basket
Goplus 24'' Single Speed 3-wheel Bicycle
A good trike for seniors but it only has one speed so it is best used on flat terrain where speed changes aren’t needed.
The Mantis Tri-Rad adult folding tricycle is a smart looking adult tricycle that is both lightweight and robust, making it a good choice for anyone who wants to enjoy the mobility of owning a bike, but who struggles with riding a standard bicycle.
The Mantis Tri-Rad is a comfortable bike to ride, allowing for an upright posture, with a comfortable grip on the handlebars. It has a carrying basket at the rear which is spacious enough to hold a small amount of shopping or your supplies for a day out.
The Mantis is a durable bike which comes in two sizes (16in or 20in wheels). Choose the 20in wheels if you are buying the bike for a tall adult, since the 16in ones may sit too low to the floor. The seat itself is easy to raise and lower as required to suit adults and children of differing heights, but the wheels may be a limiting factor in terms of who can comfortably use the bike.
This folding tricycle is a great choice for seniors. It is lightweight and easy to fold and unfold, and it looks like a smart adult bike, unlike some other tricycles which have either a sporty or childish design. The riding posture that it allows is comfortable, and it offers users a sense of confidence and independence.
Video: Folding the Mantis Tri-Rad
26" Kent Alameda Adult Tricycle Easy Riding On Smooth Surfaces Aluminum
The Kent Alameda Adult Tricycle is one of the more value-packed bikes within the folding trike space. Its frame is a 16-inch frame and it comes with a large basket conveniently attached to the rear with plenty of space for storage.
Because it is a 3 wheeled bike, it offers excellent balance adjustment for seniors or elderly people with balancing issues. The frame itself is low enough to make it very easy to hop on and off and it conveniently folds for easy storage.
Due to the 1-speed limitation and because the bike offers such a low step-through with a low aluminum frame, you can tell the bike was designed from the ground up for seniors and elderly people. Thus, it makes for an exceptional option for those that want to either get a bike for their loved ones or for seniors looking for a bike that will allow for safer ways to exercise.
It comes with a large enough basket for storage of anything that you could need to take along with you for your rides and its design itself is especially suited for seniors. For these reasons, the Kent Alameda Adult Folding Trike is easily one of the top options to consider on the market.
The Ridgeyard 6 Speed 3-Wheel Adult Tricycle is a high-quality option to consider if you want a bike that is very capable. Because this bike features 6-speed gear shift, you will be able to use this bike comfortably to get around town and get safer exercise in your daily life. This respective bike comes with full adjustability which makes it comfortable for any rider.
Not only are the handlebars fully adjustable, but so is the seat. Along with this, it is very comfortable as the saddle is padded and has suspension absorption to make rides less bumpy. It also comes with a folding basket that can make it a very good option for those that want a bike they can go grocery shopping with.
This particular bike is excellent for those that want a bike that is capable of riding in various conditions due to it featuring a 6-speed gear shift. That being said, this bike does weigh more than a lot of the other 3-wheel bikes you will find tailored towards seniors. Thus, if you are willing to deal with the heavier frame, you can get a bike with a superior build quality and good features that make it a fantastic option for those looking to safely get in more exercise and have something they can rely on to get around.
Who Uses Three Wheel Bikes?
Lots of people. As the population ages, sometimes a 2 wheeled bicycle is no longer a good option. Even dedicated bike riders are turning to three wheel bikes or trikes.
They are simply more comfortable to ride. And, they also lessen the strain on joints that can become painful with age. People who have diseases associated with aging, such as Parkinson’s or arthritis, often feel safer on three wheel bikes. Despite weaknesses or tremors, these seniors continue their preferred exercise as long as possible with the extra support of these bikes.
Check out this fun video of seniors using a three-wheel bike in Atlanta as part of a senior exercise program:
Types of 3 Wheel Bikes
There are several styles of three wheel bikes for seniors to consider. Most of the differences are in the way you are seated on the bike which affects your safety and control of the bike.
Upright Three Wheel Bikes
If you liked riding bikes when you were younger, you’ll probably love these three wheel bikes. They have two wheels on the back, so you don’t have to try and balance the bike. This feature allows people with injuries or weakness caused by age to freely enjoy the ride without fear of falling.
The lightweight frames of these bikes make them easy to propel and to carry. They also often come with a basket between the back wheels. You can use this basket to carry your bag on the way to the shops and groceries on the way back. But they aren’t only practical. If you enjoy riding, but are concerned about the changes brought about by age, these bikes can be a great solution.
Because you are sitting at 90 degrees and higher off the ground, this style of tricycle is not for everyone. I would not recommend this style for seniors who are a fall risk, have dizziness or limited mobility.
This type of 3 wheel bike is best for seniors who need the extra stability of three wheels as opposed to a standard two-wheel bicycle. But, they should be able to support their own balance overall.
Semi-Recumbent Three Wheel Bikes
The semi-recumbent three wheel bike may be a good option if you find normal bike seats uncomfortable. These bikes have a full-sized seat and backrest that allows you to rest your back. They also have pedals which are more forward on the bike.
This setup allows you to stretch out more and can make the pedals easier to reach. It also lowers the center of gravity for greater support and stability. If you can ride a bike, then you’ll be able to put your feet flat on the ground when riding this one. That gives greater control and stability for riders who may feel unstable on ordinary bikes. The handlebars on these bikes are turned up and back for easy gripping in the new position. They are overall a very safe and comfortable way to ride.
Semi-recumbent bikes are good for seniors who still have decent mobility. They also should be able to get up and down with or without help to get on and off the bike. These bikes are lower to the ground which adds to their stability. But, they can be a bit harder to get on and off.
Recumbent Three Wheel Bikes
If sitting upright is too painful, or you don’t have enough strength, you can try a recumbent three wheel bike.
These devices can allow you to enjoy all the freedom and exercise of a bike while giving support for your entire body. They usually have the two wheels at the front of the bike and let you sit at a 45-degree angle as you pedal. The pedals are in front of you instead of below. You can steer these bikes by handles on either side or by using front handles.
Basically, these bikes can be modified to suit any physical condition. These bikes are still lightweight and easy to steer and propel. They’re also a whole lot of fun!
I use recumbent three wheel bikes in my practice as an ATP. They really are used with people with all types of disabilities. With the right setup, I have taught paraplegics, kids with cerebral palsy, and even people with multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy to use recumbent bikes.
Another type of 3 wheel bike for seniors to consider is the electric bike. Sometimes, these are even called scooters.
These trikes use motors to propel the wheels. Sometimes, the motors do all the work. Other times, they supplement and add power to your peddling.
Before a senior considers using an electric 3 wheel bike, they should make sure they are able to control it at all times. This includes knowing the best and safest ways to slow down and also stop.
The final type of tricycle for elderly people is the foldable style. These bikes look like the others but they have a folding frame. This allows them to be stored in smaller spaces.
Before buying a folding 3 wheel bike, make sure you are able to fold it up and unfold it again. Or, you have someone able to help you do that task.
Choosing the right seat and handlebar configuration for your three wheel bike makes a big difference. These affect not only your comfort but also your control and safety. Features like these are important to establish biking as a healthy habit!
Useful Features of Adult 3 Wheel Bikes for Seniors
The best recumbent bike for seniors is the one that suits your budget, your physical condition, and your needs. Some of the more important and useful design features are as follows:
- Step through design. This allows for easy mounting and dismounting, and basically, means there is no high bar between the handlebars and seat.
- Lightweight frame. You don’t want the bike to be too heavy. Most of them are made from lightweight materials so they’re easier to ride and store.
- Availability of parts. Most of these bikes use standard bicycle components, so repairs and replacements are easy. Make sure you can get your bike fixed easily if something breaks.
- Braking options. Most three wheel bikes have pedal brakes, but you can get hand brakes if you have trouble using the foot brakes. Many three wheel bikes also have coaster brakes. Again, you need to choose the option that works best for you.
The frames of most 3 wheel bikes made for seniors are made of tubular aluminum. This frame style is strong but also lighter in weight than tubular steel. That way, they are easier to lift and fold (if that is an included option).
Heavier duty bikes or those that will support heavier riders are made of steel.
Gears and Speeds
Most adult trikes come with a range of gears and speeds to choose from. While you can get a single speed bike, there are others that have up to 21 speeds.
These gears and speeds affect how your bike handles on varied terrain. They also determine how hard you have to work to pedal the bike!
If your trike has multiple speeds, it will also have a shifter lever mounted within easy reach of the handlebars. This allows you to quickly and easily change gears while keeping your eye on the road.
If you are using your bike in a flat neighborhood or subdivision, a single speed bike will do just fine. But, if you need to pedal fast to cross a street or you encounter varied terrain, choose a bike with multiple speeds.
Finally, if you are riding your 3 wheel bike on long rides or over long miles, go for the most speeds you can get. You never know when you will encounter a steep hill or sharp turn and need to make adjustments.
When choosing your bike, your physical condition should be the first consideration. This determines what type of seat your bike should have.
Traditional upright bikes have a wide, padded saddle seat. They are a lot more comfortable than the bike seat you probably remember from your childhood.
However, if you find these seats painful you should try some other options. The padded, sling seats or platform seats of the semi or fully recumbent bikes are better for people with back or balance issues.
Arthritis often accompanies aging. This is why the handlebars on your bike are essential for your comfort. There are three types of handlebars with adult bikes, and they each have their strengths and weaknesses
- Traditional handlebars work well, but should only be used by people who have good upper body strength and range of motion.
- Loop handlebars come in a circle or square shape. If you have weaker hands or arms, these might be the best option as they allow you to grip anywhere you can and steer.
- Chopper handlebars are long and thin and pointed back towards the rider. They can be on any type of three wheel bike. Only use these if you have near-normal strength and range of movement in your arms and shoulders.
The brakes on a 3 wheel bike are very similar to the brakes on a standard 2 wheel bicycle. Disc style braes are operated by rotating the pedals in a reverse directions.
There are also squeeze style hand brakes mounted to the handle bars as well. These use a cable to apply the brakes and are usually quicker to react than the pedal brakes. Be careful when applying hand brakes because of this increased sensitivity.
If you are purchasing your trike at a bike shop, chances are it will be assembled when you pick it up. Make sure you have room to transport it or arrange for delivery.
However, if you order the bike online, you will probably be responsible for assembly. Most of these bikes assemble like a regular bicycle so anyone with basic tools and mechanical skills can probably swing it.
Another option is paying a local bike shop to put it together for you. Larger cities have assembly services that will come to your home and put items like this together for you too.
Most senior-friendly trikes come with a basket mounted on the rear for carrying groceries or personal items. But, there is no shortage of accessories you can order separately for these. Everything from drink holders, to GPS units, to mirrors and locks are available so that you can bling your three wheeler out any way you like.
Trike Riding Safety Tips for Seniors
I know. Most adults don’t like to wear helmets or other safety aids. But, it is important. Think about the injuries that could happen in a bike accident to a senior or elderly person.
The AAA suggests these bike riding safety tips that are important to senior riders of 3 wheel bikes as well.
- Always wear a helmet. Yes, always.
- Keep your head up and forward – always look where your are going.
- Do not ride two to a bike unless the trike was desgned for this.
- When riding with others, stay in a single file line to the right side of the road (for US riders).
- Plan your route out before you leave. Know where you are going to go and how to get back.
- Avoid heavy traffic and peak road times.
- Do not ride at night without lights and proper reflectors.
- Keep your bike well-maintained at all times.
- Do not wear headphones or block your hearing in any way.
- Keep both hands and feet on the bike at all times.
- Know how to use proper bike hand signals for turns and stops.
Summary and Recommendations
Three wheel bikes are another tool to help you maintain your independence as you get older. They may even be a good alternative to cars for shorter trips and allow you to perform daily tasks with less trouble. Hopping on one can be a great way to meet friends at the rec center to play a game of cards, play a few board games, or work on a puzzle!
Because of the sturdy design of these bikes, seniors can feel comfortable and secure while using them. They’ll probably even enjoy zipping around on them! If you enjoy biking, but worry about it as you age, three wheel bikes are a more secure version of traditional bikes. You might like them even more than your old bike and riding one can quickly become a fulfilling hobby.
When shopping for a bike, keep in mind your physical condition. Use a fitness tracker with heart rate monitor to keep a watch on your progress and heart rate. You might want to use a pedal exerciser to work up to a full bike (click here to learn more about these).
Know going into it if an upright, semi-recumbent, or recumbent style is best. Also, know what your needs are for seating, handlebars, and pedal style. Safety should always be the first concern. If you have any concerns about using a three wheel bike outside, these same style of bikes are available as indoor exercise bikes too.
Either way, check out my recommendations above for the best tricycles for seniors and see if one of them could work for you.
Have you ever tried a three-wheeled bike? Tell me about your experience in the comments below! If you are considering one, how do you expect it to help you? Are you looking for fun and exercise or a practical way of getting around the neighborhood?