ISO eBike for tall person with back problems

Can anyone recommend one or more eBikes that allow me to sit in a full upright position and pedal comfortably? I’m 6’3" with a 34" inseam and some back issues that make hunching over, even slightly, very uncomfortable.

I would like it to be compatible with kid and cargo trailers. I would use it for grocery runs and other chores, as well as commuting post-coronavirus.

Thanks in advance!

  • Dan

You really need to test ride some bikes – something that might not be possible for awhile.

Small things can make an enormous difference in comfort, the bikes vary dramatically, and the bikes need to be set up for you.

When you say you’re looking to sit full upright, is that the only position you’re comfortable in? The reason I’m asking is whether you’d considered recumbent options?

2 Likes

Hey Dan,

Wake here from The eBike Store.

Before beginning, my first question to you would be are your back problems significant to the point where hitting a pothole or falling off your bike would cause a significant decline in your quality of life? Spending some time on potential outcomes, their probabilities and potential ramifications is important. That being said…

What we have found in working with folks for longer than I can believe is that upright bikes tend to pose the least issues for folks with back & neck issues. The biggest thing we have found is that when you find a bike that seems comfortable, trying it for a few days to make sure it doesn’t cause issues for you is the best option.

Without knowing your specific issues or how far you want to ride etc., There are quite a few eBikes that might work well for you. Of the ones we carry, the Gazelle Brand might be good to look at. Their Easyflow has a 57cm frame and is really upright, as is their Arroyo Elite. Another bike worth checking out is The Townie Electric. You can find it at Bike Gallery.

I also completely agree with Banerjek that a fully supported spine might be the best way to go. For recumbents, you might want to check out Rose City Recumbents and Recumbents PDX.

at eBike Store, we offer free test rides and low cost rentals that are refunded if you end up purchasing the eBike.

During the pandemic, we are open by appointment only on every except Tuesdays and Wednesdays (our weekend).

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we are available at 503-360-1432 starting tomorrow (thursday) at 11.

best,

Wake

2 Likes

Thanks for the reply, banerjek! I hear you on the need to test ride; may be a good reason to hold off, I think.

I hadn’t considered a recumbent, but that could work well for me. They seem less safe to me in terms of being able exit the bike quickly in an emergency. Do you have any insight there? Maybe I’m overly concerned?!

Thanks again!

I ride both recumbents and uprights. While each has their advantages for different types of riding, I think recumbents are a little safer but not by a huge margin.

Best way to not get hurt is to not crash in first place. Recumbents are funny looking so they naturally attract attention reducing your chances of getting into conflicts with others. Another side benefit is the mechanical strangeness can evoke curiosity rather than hostility among demographics not known for their love of cyclists.

If you get in a crash, you’re lower to the ground and in a position much less likely to hurt your head, arms, hands and legs than an upright which can slam you down hard if your front wheel washes out or fails.

Don’t worry about being trapped on the bike. As someone who has crashed a number of times over the years, I generally prefer to stay locked in except on my trike. On an upright, if you keep your hands on the bars and feet on the pedals letting your hip and side take as much impact as possible, you’re much less likely to break bones than if hands/feet are sticking out or get tangled with the bike. On a recumbent, you just fall to the side – it’s noticeably nicer.

Even if you don’t want to stay attached, you just put your feet down and let the bike go. If anything, you’re less trapped on any recumbent I’ve ridden (except trikes) than on an upright.

In emergencies, the bad news is that recumbents are generally less maneuverable because the wheelbases tend to be longer, the steering mechanisms less responsive (except tadpole trikes which are more responsive), and you have less ability to change your weight distribution in response to abrupt maneuvers. The good news is that the handling is also very predictable, so the bike’s unlikely to behave in an unexpected way in an emergency.

Recumbents vary dramatically, so if you’re thinking of testing them, I’d definitely go to a shop, talk to the staff about your goals, and test a few. You’ll know very quickly if you do or do not want to seriously consider one.

2 Likes

Hi Wake! Thanks for your reply. The Gazelle models look promising. I’ll give you a call to set up a test ride and/or rental.

My back problems aren’t so severe that I can’t handle some potholes or minor falls. I have had several episodes of back spasms, some more severe than others. They are usually preceded by a period of heavy use, static positioning in awkward position, etc. and then a more accute event.

All else being equal, less strain on the back the better, I suppose, although upright position may be sufficient.

Thanks again!

This is superhelpful, banarjek! Thank you for your insight!