Best E-Bikes Under 500 Dollars

With summer getting closer, many of us are enjoying the thought of warmer temperatures and more hours of daylight. Any chance to spend more time outside is very welcome to many of us.

Biking is one activity that lets you enjoy some wind in your face while also getting exercise. Then again, it’s not always going to be a convenient or comfortable way to get around on a hot day.

If you want to commute while having some fun, or you’re just looking to try out something new, an electric bike might be just the answer you’re looking for.

We’ve assembled a list of highly-rated electric bikes that fall under $500. You can use these to have a bit more fun with your commute in the city.

If you want an upgraded bike with advanced features, then we also have a list the best electric bikes available for less than $2,000.

What Do You Want From Your Electric Bike?

Finding an electric bike that costs under $500 is great, but you also want to find the right one for you. For instance, are you looking for something really simple? Or would you rather have something that has a longer range than the rest?

Does the size matter to you? A compact bike is easier to deal with physically. You need to consider many different factors in picking the best possible electric bike for your lifestyle.

The electric drive is undoubtedly one factor that you need to consider. Many modern electric bikes have versions of either:

  • Mid-position hub motors
  • Front-position hub motors

Your neighborhood bike shop probably has both available, but if you don’t find what you’re looking for, there are also plenty of retailers you can order from online.

One of the reasons e-bikes are getting more and more popular is the constant advances being made in terms of battery technology. It doesn’t seem like a single month can go by without us hearing about a brand-new electric bike, usually in the affordable category, no less, that is now superior to its predecessors. Having said that, it’s crucial to know just how advanced your ideal electric bike is compared to everyone else.

Specific Factors You Should Consider

Before you buy an electric bike, you need to put in some time with research. Before you make any particular decisions, you need to figure out at least what specific features will be important to you personally.

 Since we’re here to help, we’ve provided a few you can use to get going…


Don’t let this one surprise you because brakes are what you need to stop when you’re riding!

 Disc brakes are usually going to be the intelligent choice. SRAM and Shimano are both cost-effective choices for commuters since they function well in wet and rainy conditions.

 I made the switch to disc brakes some time back and immediately noticed a substantial difference. I mean that I was considerably more confident about descending inclines with more speed than before, so obviously, I approve of them.

 Then again, if you only intend to use your e-bike in dry weather conditions, then you can get by just fine using rim brakes.


Look into e-bikes long enough, and you’ll notice that not all of them have lights. This might not prove to be a deciding factor when it’s time to spend your budget on an e-bike. However, from my personal experience, adding lights to an e-bike can be pretty pricey.

As for myself, I only ride if my lights are on. Even if the sun is shining bright, I have my lights on.

Why do I do this?

The next time you’re out driving or riding and see a cyclist with lights, think about how much faster you noticed them just due to their lights. I’m always that cyclist who likes getting noticed instead of ignored or hit.

Whether your new e-bike has lights with it or not, be kind to yourself and make sure you get some. You have no shortage of options.

Range/Battery Life

When you shop for cars, you know that MPG means how many miles per gallon you get. That means you can calculate how much driving you’ll get on one tank, per the manufacturer’s information.

These figures are estimates that make assumptions about riding conditions and weight in the vehicle, but they give you some idea of how far you might get riding in ideal conditions on flat terrain.

E-bike range is very similar. You can’t count on a battery lasting as long as the maker says it will, but more is better for most riders who care about how far they can get.

Just bear in mind that the estimated range might factor in a rider using the pedal-assist system. You might choose not to actually do that!


PAS stands for pedal-assist system.

Quite a few e-bikes have this feature. Being able to use a full-electric mode is a convenient feature to have. You can get a lot more from your e-bike when you can influence the actual power delivery.

You should consider that specific bikes will either have a throttle or a pedal-assist system but not both. In cases of e-bikes like these, you need to decide which particular situation is a better fit for you.

Keep in mind that this will impact things like your mileage, battery, and overall range.


It’s common for modern electric mountain bikes to have a suspension. The suspension might be a full suspension or just front fork/shocks.

This proves very useful if you intend to go mountain biking since it amps things up a level when you ride.

You might not find this particular feature necessary if you aren’t going to ride much in fields or on trails. If you’re just looking for something for urban or suburban commuting, then a suspension can be cool to have, but it’s just not something that you have to have. Yes, it can make any ride more comfortable, so if you can get your hands on a bike in your budget that has this, then by all means, do it!

While the ride will be more comfortable, keep in mind that an additional front fork means the bike eats up more space. Storing it won’t be as compact or straightforward as with other models.

Top E-Bikes For Less Than $500

1. Ancheer Folding Bike

Ancheer is a name you will always see when you look through the e-bike market. Then again, that’s a good thing!

This particular Ancheer is rated waterproof at IPX5. It’s also a folding electric bike.

You can have all this for less than $500. Sounds pretty sweet, yes? There’s actually more…

The folding bike frame for this Ancheer is made using aluminum alloy. Combine that with the foldable structure, and you can compact this down to something neat and tidy.

Download the companion Ancheer app to track the battery life, speeds, and various other useful stats. You can even lock your bike by using the app.

The motor has 350w of power, fueled by a 36v 8ah battery using lithium-ion technology. Hit speeds as fast as 15.5 mph, and your city buildings will breeze right by you.

I personally find the charge duration to be pretty impressive. Being able to charge the whole thing in just 3 hours is convenient to a busy schedule where flexibility is a must. Being able to do it on such a tight budget is even more impressive.

The designers put some consideration into the wheels. You might consider that to be a given, but many e-bikes are designed with the wheels being an afterthought or just a way to minimize costs. This isn’t the case here.

Ride quality is high-caliber with this bike. The wheels do plenty of shock absorption, so your body won’t feel all those bumps in your local roads that you know are are there.

Enjoy excellent traction from the tires, too, although keep in mind that Ancheer suggests avoiding serious hills with this bike. Still, inclines of up to 10 percent are possible.


  • Enjoy a full year of warranty.
  • The top speed is listed at 15.5 mph.
  • The bike has a 350w motor.
  • A single charge has a potential range of 15 miles.
  • Attach your smartphone to one of the handlebars.


  • The mileage can vary drastically because of quite a few different factors.

2. Swagtron Swagcycle EB-5

This brand is famous for making high-caliber e-bikes for both kids and grown-ups. Their Swagcycle EB-5 model is just another instance of great e-bikes for less than $500.

Want to know the best part? It arrives pre-assembled. You also get a choice of what battery you want.

When you look over consumer reviews, you’ll see that this bike is highly thought of for many reasons. I’m inclined to agree with many of the reviews that I have read.

For starters, its frame is aluminum alloy, meaning it’s light in weight. That’s great for when you need to carry it around by hand.

About that…

This Swagcycle is not just a folding electric bike but one you can fold down three different times. That is a seriously compact package when you need that!

Flip this particular bike into one of two different settings if you get it. The first of them is a power assist mode that helps you when pedaling so you do not have to use quite as much effort when climbing a hill as you would have to without a motor. That’s great news for many of us.

The second is a kind of power you can utilize through its throttle. It works up to speeds as high as 15mph. To be perfectly honest, you don’t want to ride much faster than that through most cities anyway.

Granted, you always have an option of using this e-bike as a conventional bike free of assistance. That’s helpful, considering how the range of this bike might be one of its downsides.

Swagtron claims you can get over 15 miles out of this battery, but my own experiences haven’t matched that.

While inclines and terrain do matter, I’ve personally seen that a single charge on this bike is more likely to get you only 7 to 10 miles. Most riders will be okay with that.

If you only ride flat routes without inclines, then you might get the 15.5 miles Swagtron claims. It’s just not something that happened to me.


The 250w motor is paired with lithium-ion battery technology that you can fully charge in just 5 hours. A complete shift in your office or day job will be more than enough time to juice this thing back up so you can ride home.

One thing that I like about his Swagtron e-bike is something they call ‘auto-guard technology’.

What is that?

In essence, it automatically applies the stoppers anytime it senses you are having trouble. For instance, if you suddenly encounter any hurdles you weren’t anticipating, this bike will react in your place and keep the balance and upright position.

To top it all off, you can choose between a removable battery and a standard battery.

These are design features that very few bikes have under $500, making this e-bike a genuinely superior product at this price point.


  • Enjoy more control with various power modes.
  • Fold it up three times for compact size.
  • Auto-guard technology means safer riding.
  • Lithium-ion batteries store the power.
  • Ride up to 15.5mph.
  • It comes with V-brakes.


  • The battery life is much shorter than you’d think.
  • You have to buy the rack separately.

3. Shaofu Folding E-Bike

This entry comes at a wonderful price point while being chock full of features you can love and enjoy.

It’s totally electric, has no emissions, and comes with lithium batteries.

This e-bike gives you a horn and LED headlight already installed, so you can skip getting all this on your own. I’ve personally paid quite a bit for lights, so I think this is very advantageous.

If you’re like many others, then you’re worried about e-bike theft. You aren’t the only person who has considered this since Shaofu created a smartphone app that lets you lock your folding e-bike.

The alloy frame is aluminum, and the rims are too. This keeps the weight low at just 12kg. In fact, when you consider the battery size, this might just be one of the best e-bike weights I’ve ever experienced.

The bike also has a noticeable visual aesthetic to it. Many people look at it and think of dolphins. That’s certainly on-trend in the current market.

An adjustable seat means comfort while riding. This bike is also easily folded, even though it’s designed for adults. That makes it easier for adults to commute with it.

Now, you might be curious, how effective is its battery?

Pretty good. Depending on your terrain and riding, you can get anywhere from 25 up to 50 kilometers out of this bike.

Along the way, you’ll enjoy speeds up to 15 mph powered by the 350w motor.

Charging time is only 3 hours, so you won’t be off the road for very long. I almost have trouble believing that this bike comes into the under $500 price range given how many features it packs.

Don’t let the rain prevent you from riding this folding e-bike, given its IPX5 waterproof rating.


  • It’s compatible with apps and Bluetooth technology.
  • The head and rear lights are in-built when it arrives.
  • The e-bike has disc brakes.
  • A full-year warranty covers it.
  • Enjoy a cruise control setting.
  • The frame is made using lightweight aluminum alloy.
  • Ride at speeds up to 15 mph.


  • It is not meant for mountain biking at all.

4. Ancheer Electric Mountain Bike

This particular model is intended to serve anyone with a mountainous spirit who also wants suitable gears and brakes. This is easily one of the top rated e-bikes you’ll find for less than $500.

Durability is the name of the game here. The bike features a fork made using carbon steel, while the handles use aluminum alloy. This cycle body is light in weight, yet the double layers of aluminum also give it strength. All the while, the e-bike is easily carried when folded into a compact form.

Three modes of biking are possible when you choose between manual, assisted, or electric riding. For exercising or longer rides, you can even pair up two of the modes together. Simply select the mode you want using the handlebar-located monitoring meter operator.

The smart-charging system revolves around the 36V 8ah battery with lithium technology. Get ranges of 15 up to 30 miles. The motor has high-speed brushless gear that helps you sustain speeds of 15mph.

The brake and gear shifting system has adjustable speeds thanks to a 21-speed transmission. Enjoy two disc brakes places on the front and rear wheels. Night-time riding is even possible thanks to a horn and the LED headlamp.

The one-year warranty covers service for the charger, battery, and electric motor. When you buy the bike, you can even ask for an assembly service at no charge to you. You only have to pick up your bike at the store, and it’s available in three different designs.


  • The e-bike is light in weight yet also sturdy.
  • Enjoy a transmission system with 21 different speeds.
  • The biking system has three different modes.


  • Thee-bike is hard to put together.

5. Samebike

This is a definite contender for the very best e-bike for $500!

The first significant benefit to this e-bike is how minimal the assembly is.

Next, you’ll quickly notice how lightweight the bike is, particularly when you remember it has a high-performance motor included. Still, it holds a person as much as 120kg and only weighs 16.5kg itself.

The benefits don’t stop there…

You can make sure other vehicles on the road are easy, thanks to the bright LED headlamp attached to the bike’s front. If need be, alert people where you are on the road, thanks to the included horn. It’s an excellent safety feature to have when you’re riding through areas with foot traffic or other bikers.

When riding, use the LCD display to keep track of your battery and range. Also, adjust your mode if you need to.

One preference that I like having on e-bikes that this one lacks is a gear system. It’s nice to change down if I want to pedal harder or I’ve got a hill in front of me.

Still, other aspects about this e-bike make up for that. For instance, the disc braking system proves to be reliable and durable for any busy commuting area.

Once you fold up this e-bike, you can put it in your car to take other places.

This e-bike has several working modes, and you can change them all in just seconds from your handlebar.


  • Charge your phone with its USB connection.
  • The lithium battery is removable.
  • Its wheels are decent.
  • It has many practical safety features.
  • The e-bike has app connectivity and works with Bluetooth technology.
  • Get speeds up to 15.5 mph.
  • Use three different working modes.


  • It only has a single-speed.

6. Macwheel 16″ E-Bike

This particular entry finishes the list with three different riding modes and a gear shift system featuring five speeds. This all adds up to an e-bike that can cruise at top speeds around 15 mph. It’s almost as good as riding an actual motorcycle.

The five-speed gear system means that the bike’s electric-assist mode can adjust how much power is necessary based on the frequency of your pedaling. That means you can enjoy this e-bike going the distance for you.

If you want, you can ride this e-bike as a conventional bike. That’s a feature that’s always a benefit to have included. You can get some exercise, and you also can keep using it when the battery runs out.

The lithium technology in the battery means that the bike has sound capacity. Paired with the 250w brushless motor, the bike is everything you need to get through your city surroundings.

Then again…

This is the part where you expect a downside or something bad. Nope. It’s good news because you can actually ride this bike right out of most cities.

The bike range is up to 37 miles on just one charge!

That charge takes only 4 to 5 hours. That’s a bit slower than other bikes, but not by much.

E-bikes need to stop fast since you can hit higher speeds than you can on traditional bikes. That makes the brakes essential features.

Macwheel electric bikes have double-braking systems.

How does this impact the rider?

The brake system is a combination of a power-off brake and a linear double-disc brake. This means that your braking distance isn’t as much, especially if you’re on a wet surface during unpleasant weather.

Even though this bike is available on a budget, such a braking system is more likely to be seen on bikes way over the $500 budget we’re talking about today. So, seeing it on this bike is a great thing.

The frame is made using aluminum alloy, keeping the weight down for carrying it.

Also, the LED display gives you crucial data straight from the bike’s lithium battery. It also shows you the mode that you’re in.


  • The aluminum alloy frame is light in weight.
  • A budget-level choice still comes packed with features.
  • There is an option for only pedaling.
  • The top speed can be as high as 15.5 mph.
  • This bike arrives pre-assembled.
  • Get over 30 miles of range in just one charge.


  • You can’t remove the battery.


1. What’s the Best Budget E-Bike?

You should be able to tell by now that you have several great choices for e-bikes less than $500. Which option is most suitable for you? Well, that’s honestly up to you. Think about the kind of riding you would like to do. What’s your reason for getting a bike?

Do you want one that can cover up to 30 miles? I’d say look at the Machweel.

If you’re more into electric mountain biking, then I’d look at the GoPlus folding e-bike.

However, your decision ultimately comes down to what e-bike features that you want.

Specific features buyers look for include but are not limited to the following options:

  • Gear system
  • Design
  • Gears
  • Overall weight
  • Cruise control
  • Lithium batteries
  • Brushless motor

While I won’t tell you which specific e-bike is right for you, I did present a list of the best models under $500, so you don’t have to look very far.

2. How Fast Will a 500w E-Bike Go?

E-bikes featuring 500w motors give the rider assistance to speeds as much as 20 mph.

This is only in cases of going full throttle without pedaling. An e-bike that has a powerful motor and good design will help you get more power than you might need, even with less than 500 watts.

Still, if you want more speed, mainly if you are heavier, then a high-powered motor is a good option.

For example, a 250w motor might be plenty for someone who weighs 100 pounds. Then again, someone who weighs 220 pounds might be better off with a 500w motor. That’s because a 100-lb. rider using a 250w motor might hit the same top speed as a 250-lb. rider using a 500w motor.

3. Is 500w Sufficient for an Electric Bike?

Most of the time, 500w is plenty.

When choosing the level of power you need or just want, you need to consider both distance and the kind of terrain you intend to cover.

A typical commute is usually fine with a 250w motor.

If you’re facing lots of inclines, then a 500w motor might be what you need to climb those hills.

Buying the biggest motor you see within your budget is tempting, but just remember that if you don’t need the power, then you’re just putting more weight on your bike without a good reason.

My Final Verdict

I’ve said that you need to decide for yourself based on your needs and wants the best bike for you off of this list. However, if I were to give any particular bike my top award, then it would be the Ancheer.

Their e-bikes come packed with technology options and features, including Bluetooth connectivity.

The charging time is only 3 hours, which means you get back to riding that much faster. With this bike, you want to ride.

Ancheer claims that this particular e-bike would still work after it gets totally submerged into water. Don’t expect me to test that, but you have to admire their confidence in their product’s waterproofing and durability.

I could talk about the bikes features all day, but this e-bike has lots going for it already.

The top speed is 15 mph, which is excellent if you want to make time without riding mass transit.

For any commuter looking for a a great e-bike less than $500, the Ancheer is hard to top.

What Are The Best Exercise Bikes for Seniors?

As you know, getting older does not mean that you have to compromise an active lifestyle. We need to stay moving, and activities like bicycling will promote healthy circulation, joint mobility, and muscle stimulation.

It does not matter if you have exercised for years, are just getting back into it, or if doing low-impact workouts is something you are considering for the first time. Cycling can help you improve both mental and physical health so that those golden years are as enjoyable as possible. Taking up exercise (or continuing to work out) can be fun when using the right equipment.

We’ll take a look at what a stationary bike is, along with some of the advantages and disadvantages of using one might be. Then, we’ll provide a buying guide so that you know what features are most helpful. Then, we can take a look at seven of the best exercise bikes for seniors, one of which might be right for you!

What is an Exercise Bike?

Mechanically, exercise bikes are similar to a bicycle. They are stationary, however, connecting to a platform that provides stability as you work out.

The design provides you with a bicycling experience without having to leave your home. This is beneficial for seniors who lack balance or mobility. It also offers an option for those suffering from bad eyesight, hearing, or unsafe neighborhoods.

You will see an exercise bike called a stationary bike by some people. Like a bicycle, these devices use foot pedals that are attached to a spinning flywheel. That flywheel provides adjustable resistance when you start peddling.

Several models have eight resistance settings, but you can find top-tier designs with 25 adjustments or more. Higher settings will require more work on your behalf to move the pedals. Added features, including smooth-running magnetized flywheels or flywheel-powered fans, are available on some products.

Pros & Cons


  1. Safety: The safety factor begins by discussing your desire to use an exercise bike with your doctor. Once cleared for cycling, you will find that stationary bikes help reduce falls and provides you with stability that bicycles can not. That is important as you get older, as falls can hurt more and take longer to heal.
  2. Joint health: Running can generate hard impacts on knee joints. Even walking can put pressure on knees and hips that becomes uncomfortable. Using an exercise bike provides less strain on your joints while offering the benefits of an aerobic workout, something our aging body’s need.
  3. Circulatory and heart health: Burning calories on a ride can reduce cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke risks. You have the potential to lower your risk of suffering one of these problems by up to 35-percent with regular aerobic exercise, including riding on exercise bikes. It will help to keep your heart strong and promote increased blood flow.
  4. Easy to use: Riding on a stationary bike is convenient and straightforward, something that we feel is important to maintaining an exercise regime. Finding an exercise bike that fits your needs will allow you to challenge your fitness goals. You can avoid the heat or skin-damaging sunlight of summer and the cold, icy, or snowy conditions of winter that prevent the use of a bicycle.


  1. Some assembly required: As you might expect, exercise bikes arrive unassembled in the box. You will need to unpack it and put the pieces together (or pay roughly $100 to have assembled for you). We list this as a “con” because instructions can be confusing, and attaching pieces difficult for some seniors.
  2. Cost more: On average, a stationary bike will cost you more than a traditional bicycle. A no-frills bicycle can cost $200, while a similar exercise bike will double or triple that price point. Price is a consideration for seniors, especially if they are on a fixed income.
  3. Lack of mental stimulation: Riding a stationary bike in the safety of your home can become boring. Consistency is critical for health benefits, and a lack of interest can develop with the same exercise over time. Spending money on an exercise bike only to have it collect dust in a corner will give you the sense that you wasted money and time.

Best Exercise Bikes for the Elderly


These stationary bikes look a lot like traditional bicycles. It has foot pedals located directly under the seat, with a belt transferring the motion from the pedals to the flywheel.

Everything else on the upright exercise bike is immobile. That allows you to remain focused on your leg movement.

All your upper body weight and pressure rest on the bike seat, with leg and foot pressure placed on the pedals. The only trick you have to be concerned with here is keeping your body balanced on the bike’s seat.

Seniors who have lower back or hip pain may notice themselves becoming sore with extended use, so those with preexisting problems may want to ride shorter sessions. Others can usually ride upright exercise bikes for 30-minute sessions with no lingering effects.


Recumbent, is a word referring to the “lying down” position. A recumbent exercise bike places you in a position of laying back. The seat is wide, has padding, and includes a backrest.

Your legs are positioned more in the front of the bike when you pedal, while your upper body weight and pressure distribute over your lower back and buttocks. It is more comfortable and ergonomic when compared to a traditional bike seat.

If you suffer from lower hip or back pain, a recumbent exercise bike will allow you to get an aerobic workout without agitating sensitive muscles or nerves.


We have included this in an individual category, but it is not a separate type of stationary bike. A step-through exercise bike can be a recumbent or upright design. The designation describes the bike frame.

These use frames that sit low to the ground instead of higher up. That allows you to step between the seat and handlebars as you mount or exit the bike.

If you have trouble with your balance or lifting your leg, a step-through frame can help. You can use your exercise bike comfortably and safely.

Indoor Cycles

An upright stands you up tall, a recumbent has you laying back, and an indoor cycle exercise bike will put you into a more forward position. You may have heard some people refer to an indoor cycle as a spin bike.

The key feature here is a handlebar placement that forces you to lean forward. Your arms can now relieve some of the upper body weight and pressure. These can be pedaled seated or standing on the foot pedals.

The indoor cycle, or spin bike, is very popular with those looking to burn calories. Most designs lack electronic monitoring or tracking, but you can add aftermarket computers easily.


The folding exercise bike is another sub-category found in either a recumbent or upright exercise bike design. A key feature for these stationary bikes is portability.

They are lightweight compared to standard designs, and you can often get one of these for less money. When you finish using a folding exercise bike, you can fold it up and store it out of the way.

If you have very limited open space in your home, you might consider a folding bike to get your aerobic exercise done. They are not as stable, though, so keep that in mind as you do your research.

Buying Guide: What Should You Look For?

1. On-board workout programs: The added feature helps design a program that keeps you challenged and motivated as you exercise. These come on models with video screens and without them. It is a feature that can help a beginner to exercising with a stationary bike and for those who struggle to stay motivated.

2. Adjustable resistance: These controls allow you to increase or decrease the resistance levels that the flywheel provides as you pedal. Higher numbers indicate greater levels and lower numbers less. Budget-friendly exercise bikes will have at least 8 to 10 settings, while more expensive designs can have more than 20 resistance levels.

3. Arm movement: You can pay extra and get arm movement added to your exercise bike experience. This feature provides a complete body workout that increases your cardiovascular workload. You can get a workout for arm joints and muscles at the same time you work your legs, and seniors may find it easier to use all of their limbs on the bike.

4. Seat design: Your exercise bike seat is the point of contact and support, so it needs to be ergonomic. Look for a bike with adequate padding and a shape that does not agitate your back, butt, or groin area when you ride. If the seat is very uncomfortable, you will not use the bike as much.

 Additional features: Today’s technology is all about integration. If you want to use personal electronics and apps, there are exercise bikes that connect with them. That includes Bluetooth technology and built-in speakers.

Cost Considerations

1. Financing options: Many seniors are on fixed incomes, making an exercise bike seem out of reach financially. Before settling on a different model that might not meet your specific needs, see if financing is available. Manufacturers and retail outlets alike will often offer potential buyers financing, extended warranties, and free service on a new stationary bike.

2. Display screens and add-ons: A large video display is a nice feature, especially for older eyes. It is not a requirement, though, and such add-ons will drive up the total cost of your exercise bike quickly (some luxury items can double the price tag). If you want to save money on your equipment, downgrade to smaller features or eliminate them.

The Best of the Best

Best Overall: Schwinn 270 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Schwinn 270 recumbent bike is designed to distribute light pressure along your back and rear as you pedal. It is a reasonable stationary bike choice if you are recovering from injuries or surgery that require rehabilitation. If you consider that the design is also suitable for seniors with bad hips, you can see why it is the best overall choice for anybody.

The seat is the stand-out feature of this product. It is well-cushioned and ergonomic, making it a design that we feel is difficult to top in this class of exercise equipment.

Another consideration is the 29 functions and programs that Schwinn has added to this model. It provides you with 25 resistance levels, allowing you to fine-tune your workout. The 270 recumbent exercise bike includes functions for profile creation, exercise routines, fitness tests, heart rate monitoring, and set starts/stops.

A design feature that makes this exercise bike a good choice for seniors is the flywheel. Its weight distributes along the outer edge, allowing users to start pedaling easier than wheels on other products. That will get you pedaling with less effort, making it more comfortable to exercise.

The Schwinn 270 includes a large LCD that is easy to read, even without sharp eyesight. Its controls are extremely intuitive and easy to use. That makes it less intimidating for anyone not comfortable with technology.

Bluetooth technology allows you to sync up with Schwinn’s training app for tech-savvy users. You can also find programs for seniors on apps like RideSocial or personal trainers with remote monitoring.


  • It has an ergonomic seat that is comfortable to sit in
  • There are 29 functions and programs to create your workout
  • 25 levels of resistance to select
  • The flywheel design provides an easy start to pedaling
  • A large LCD that is easy to see
  • The exercise bike is Bluetooth compatible


  • Assembly can be difficult for seniors

Best for Heavier, Larger People: EXERPEUTIC 900XL 300 lbs. Weight Capacity

The 900XL is another recumbent stationary bike design that allows you to lay back as you pedal. It has a 300-pound maximum capacity, providing support for people wanting to start their exercise journey. If you need to improve your cardiovascular and overall health and burn calories, this product from Exerpeutic could be for you.

The magnetic tensioned wheel can is adjustable to eight settings. That might not be the best selection range, but the lowest two settings are easy to use and make a great place to start. Eight resistance settings are also adequate for seniors looking for a simple operating exercise bike.

It has a display that provides feedback in various readings and statistics. These are not overly complicated and should be easy for you to understand. The large LCD tracks your calories burned, distance, heart rate, speed, and time on the bike.

We note that the information appears to be accurate and in real-time, including at the lower settings. That is not the case on all exercise equipment we have reviewed. Add to this the comfortable seat position that relieves back and hip discomfort for large users, and you have a stationary bike that heavier users can use with confidence.

It has a budget-friendly price tag when compared to some exercise bikes. That does not mean the manufacturer skipped on quality. The bike is durable and offers a stable exercise platform.


  • It comes at an affordable price
  • The exercise bike is simple to start using
  • Magnetic variable tension provides smooth resistance
  • It has a comfortable seat for larger riders
  • The 300-pound weight capacity is higher than other models


  • The metrics it offers to track are basic

Best High-End Option: NordicTrack Commercial VR21

The VR21 recumbent exercise bike design is a step up in price. Your extra money provides you with a step-through bike design, though. That is a nice feature for seniors with balance issues or who lack the movement range to step over other bikes to mount them.

An oversized bike seat with built-in support for your lumbar area provides you with a comfortable body position as you work out. It has large foot pedals that are ergonomic and comfortable. NordicTrack has included comfort adjustments that seniors will find easy to adjust.

A wide range of digital features is available for your money, including an EKG pulse rate tracker that grips and 32 unique workouts pre-installed. The stationary bike is iFit compatible as well.

We find that the EasyGlide seat adjustments are perfect for older riders to use without causing a loss of balance or arm strain. The oversized foot pedals include adjustable straps that allow you to pedal without your feet slipping.

Another feature is the AutoBreeze fan that can keep air circulating near you during your riding. A holder for your water bottle and computer tablet makes things easy to connect and reach while you are on the exercise bike.

The flywheel is inertia-enhanced and rated at 20 pounds, allowing you to adjust to 25 digital settings for resistance that can match your desired exercise routine.

Top these features off with a 350-pound support rating and 10-year frame warranty, and you have a durable product that will help get you in shape.


  • It has features that are easy for seniors to use
  • You get a fun workout experience with things like speakers, a fan, and holders for your workout accessories.
  • The five-inch backlight display uses OneTouch controls that are reliable and give instant access to things like the 32 workouts included in the exercise bike.
  • It includes a heart rate tracker to help keep you exercising safely and at a targeted range.
  • A solid warranty package provides peace of mind
  • The design is ready for iFit 


  • The exercise bike is hefty and will require a lot of assembly work, so spending the extra money to have it professionally assembled is worth considering.
  • NordicTrack has targeted beginning exercisers looking for a low impact, spine-supported workout and not dedicated workout buffs who need high-intensity challenges (we list this here to help you shop for equipment that meets your needs more than a negative feature)

Best Value for Money: Marcy ME-709

Marcy’s ME-709 is friendly on the wallet, meaning that seniors sticking to a tight budget might find this exercise bike to their liking. That does mean the design and operation are simple. Those who do not wish to be over-burdened with lots of technological features will appreciate that.

The flywheel uses magnetic resistance and is adjustable to eight different settings. A simple LCD provides data for calories burned, distance pedaled, current speed, and distance traveled. The price tag comes with some monitoring sacrifices, including the ability to track your heart rate.

It is a recumbent exercise bike design, so it has a seat that provides good support for your hips and lower back. The cushioning used is adequate, and you might appreciate the foam padding on the handles.

Weighted foot pedals should help you keep your balance as you ride, and the frame provides decent stability, even when you are working out at higher resistance settings.

Seniors will find the exercise bike easier to assemble than some models are, and the tools provided can help you get the job done in a reasonable amount of time.


  • It has a high weight capacity that can handle heavy riders
  • The seat is ergonomically sound and provides a comfortable ride
  • A simple design makes this exercise bike easy to use


  • There is no heart rate sensor to help track this data point for aerobic workouts

Best for a Complete Body Workout: Stamina Elite Total Body

The first thing that stands out about this product is the hand pedals instead of stationary handlebars. That will provide increased cardiovascular and muscle workout capabilities for the upper body. Seniors with flexibility and strength can take advantage of the feature.

The mobile pieces require an upright design instead of recumbent seating on this frame. To provide maximum comfort, the manufacturer has included a seat with a backrest that you can push considerably. That will give you as much lean as possible to relieve potential pressure at the hips.

Typical design features include the ability to monitor things like your heart rate and foot pedal speed. You should be able to read the data without eye strain.

It is a heavy exercise bike and will work best for seniors that are over five foot tall. The robust frame weighs over 100 pounds, so you might need help assembling and moving it. We would recommend this for exercisers that are still in solid shape.


  • Riders can work their upper body with this bike
  • The bike does not generate much noise as you ride it
  • Its LCD can be read without eye strain
  • You can monitor your heart rate with this stationary bike
  • It provides plenty of stability as you exercise


  • The price tag is significant for the features you get

Best for Seniors With Bad Knees: Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Bicycle

The Sole Fitness R92 is a recumbent exercise bike design. Its seating provides your body with an angle that relieves pressure on your knee joints as you move. That is a likely the best upright exercise bike for seniors with bad knees who may find traditional upright options uncomfortable to use.

You can adjust to 20 distinct resistance settings on this model. It should allow you to find a match between body position and foot pedal resistance that will challenge you while still providing comfort to your leg joints.

A magnetic flywheel offers smooth resistance, preventing sudden drops or increases that may prove uncomfortable. A steady and consistent resistance level can help alleviate ankle, knee, and hip soreness after your workout.

We would suggest that any seniors who have knee issues look into the model R92 to provide their aerobic or therapeutic exercise needs.

Best Stationary Bike for Seniors: Stamina X Air Bike

Designed to accommodate both advanced users and beginners, the Stamina X Air Bike uses an upright design Moving handles provide you with both a lower and upper body workout at the same time.

If you are goal-oriented in your exercise routines, then the rugged design will work for you. Its display lets you keep track of calories, distance, speed, and time. Just set your mark and get to work.

You will work your core, back, shoulders, arms, and legs with this machine. Alter your exercises to focus on flexibility, strength, or cardiovascular. All forms are necessary for us to target as we age, so the ability to switch out adds versatility beyond simple leg movement.

Wheels and carrying handle help you move it to a proper storage area when you aren’t using it.


  1. Can Seniors Get Good Exercise Riding a Bike? Cycling, especially indoors, is a safe and easy way for many seniors to stay fit. It promotes joint mobility, improved circulation, and strength conditioning. Also consider the ease in which you can pick the bike up, which makes this a good choice for older people to start.
  2. Which Is Better Option for Seniors: An Upright or Recumbent Bike? An upright design is more traditional and is acceptable for anyone already in shape or working out without issues. Seniors who are overweight, have lower back issues, or joint issues might consider the recumbent design. Recumbents allow you to remain more relaxed for easy workouts while still providing a challenge when needed.

Final Verdict

Stationary exercise bikes are convenient and safe, making them ideal for seniors to use.

Many consider the Schwinn 270 best suited for seniors due to its monitoring accuracy and the multitude of functions.

That said, your needs might be better matched with one of the other models we have reviewed above. We hope this review has been helpful in your research, and if you have any comments or questions, make sure to add them in the section below!

What is the Best Road Bike Under $500

Road bikes with high-quality components are not cheap and can set you back at least thousands of dollars. If you are just starting biking (or simply just want an affordable road bike), then a quality option that’s also affordable is ideal. You may wish to save your money by finding a quality bike on the internet or a local bike shop for riding, training, or commuting.

You are probably wondering if there are budget-friendly road bikes available on the market. If you are looking for a road bike with a budget of under $500, then you have come to the right place. I will take you through your available options of road bikes so you can see what’s the best fit.

These road bikes are of good quality, but you may have to raise your budget by a few more dollars if you want bikes with cutting-edge technology and advanced features. On this page, you may have to lower your expectations, but I will tell you what to expect with the bike components and type of bike frame.

What is a Road Bike?

Before we discuss the best road bikes, let’s get an in-depth look at the definition of a road bike. Road bikes are mostly designed to be ridden on smooth pavement. They feature drop handlebars and smooth, slim tires. Road bikes can be used for on-road racing, although they lack hi-tech racing features found on a racing bicycle.

Road bikes are not to be confused with mountain bikes which feature a complex full-suspension. Mountain bikes have a low gear range for off-road trails, while bike roads are ideal for paved surfaces. Another core distinction between the two is that mountain bikes have upright or flat handlebars with wide tires while road bikes have drop handlebars with skinny tires.

Types of Road Bikes

Race – These bikes are built for speed, agility, and miles of racing on paved roads. They feature a lightweight design, slim wheels to reduce rolling resistance, and a narrow seat. Racing bikes also come with quality braking systems and are usually used by experienced professionals’ huge races.

Sportive – They are also known as endurance bikes and are slightly bigger than race bikes. Sportive bikes are designed to offer more comfort on the saddle for long commutes. They often have vibration-dampening inserts for rough roads and a wide gearing range. They are ideal for longer rides, thanks to their upright setup and geometry.

Time trial – These bikes are mostly used in triathlon racing, where riders compete to beat the clock. They are packed with aerodynamics designed to offer the least wind resistance and boost speed. Time trial road bikes are low as possible to keep the rider parallel to the ground and provide lower gear ratios for consistent higher speeds.

Aero – These bikes have a lot in common with time trial road bikes but with a few key differences. They are designed aerodynamically to cut down wind resistance with carbon fiber frames and low positions. They tend to weigh more, but the aerodynamic features and high gearing offer more speed.

Commuter – These road bikes are designed for optimal performance on paved and light trails. They offer an excellent balance between speed and aerodynamics and maximize comfort and durability. Most commuter road bikes are equipped with mudguards and racks, while the wheels are sturdy to increase strength and impact protection.

Touring – If you are looking for road bikes to cycle longer, touring bikes might be what you need. They are built for comfort and carrying loads since most of them come with a size-able rack. The wider wheels and tires increase the load-carrying capacity, while the higher spoke count increases durability and strength.

Buying Guide: What Do I Need To Consider?

Searching for an affordable road bike to start off riding can be a daunting task. Getting a first-hand experience by trying out bikes from a local bike shop can give you a solid idea of what you are looking for. Additionally, you can get more insight about road bikes from people working at bike shops since they have extensive experience and knowledge of road bikes.

Ultimately, you want a bike that will fulfill your adventurous spirit and get you on the road for a thrilling ride. There are many critical things to consider before selecting an entry-level road bike, with price being chief among them. Here are other factors you should take into consideration.

1. Type of riding

What kind of riding will you be doing? This is the first question that you should ask yourself. Aero and sportive road bikes are the main road bikes, although other road bike categories are becoming increasingly popular. The different types include performance bikes, comfort/endurance bikes, all-around road bikes, and off-road gravel bikes.

If you an entry-level rider, sportive bikes are an excellent choice due to their upright and relaxed riding position. They are also less expensive than aero road bikes. One distinct feature of sportive road bikes is their long head tube and shorter top tube.

2. Bike fit and sizing

Finding the right size of an entry-level road bike will ensure you are comfortable and ride more efficiently with minimal risk of injury. A small frame can lead to injury from holding a cramped position and limit you from delivering your full range of movement and power. On the other hand, if your bike is too big, you will not handle it efficiently or adequately deliver power.

Cost shouldn’t be the one and the only factor you consider while buying a road bike, as it may turn out to a mistake. To ensure you get the right size, you can start by measuring the frame size that covers that area between the middle of the crank and the top of the seat tube. Bike measurements are given in centimeters.

The secret to getting a road bike that is a perfect fit is to make sure the pedal goes to the bottom all the way. Your knee should bend slightly at a 20-degree angle to ensure that your legs do not get tired. The bike should offer about two inches of clearance when standing over the top tube and allow you to reach the brake and handlebar comfortably.

The common frame sizes and recommended fit include:

• 48cm for 5’1 to 5’3
• 50 cm for 5’3 to 5’5
• 52cm for 5’5-5’7
• 54cm for 5’7-5’9
• 56cm for 5’9-5’11
• 58cm for 5’11-6’2
• 60cm for 6’1-6’3
• 62cm for 6’3 to 6’5

There is a complete bike fit and sizing chart available online where you can get more measurements.

3. Frame and fork material

The frame and fork material is another key aspect to consider when shopping for your first road bike. The commonly used bike frame materials include steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Most entry-level road bikes are made of carbon fiber and aluminum.

Carbon fiber offers great vibration absorption, while aluminum is cheap and provides a good balance between robustness and reliability. You can mix an aluminum frame due to its affordability with a carbon fiber fork, as it offers greater lateral stiffness and a lower weight ratio. This will also improve your comfort and speed.

4. Groupset

Groupset consists of a bike’s transmission and brakes specified in the description of the bike. The common groupset manufacturers include SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo. These brands have different groupset models that are designed for various bike performance levels, weights, and prices.

If you a looking for an affordable road bike with a high-end feel, then I recommend you go for Shimano. It has five levels of groupset that offer more gear choice, smoother shifting, and overall lighter weight. For beginners, you can choose the Sora level or the Tiagra, while 105, Dura-Ace, and Shimano Di2 offer pro-level performance and super-lightweight.

5. Brake type (caliper or disc brakes)

Before purchasing a road bike, you should ask yourself whether to get a caliper road bike or a disc brake road bike. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Disc brake offers consistent stopping power in wet and dry conditions.

On the other hand, caliper brakes do not offer enough stopping power in wet conditions. On the upside, they have many choices of wheel upgrades, and they are cheaper and easy to maintain. The final choice comes down to you depending on your preference and budget.

Top Road Bikes Under 500 Dollars

There are many types of road bikes to choose from that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Each bike is equipped with features that ensure you have a pleasant experience and extend the use of the bike. Here are the top ten best road bikes that you can find under $500 in 2021.

1. 6KU Road Bike – Rated best overall

If you are looking for a road bike that is simple and efficient and fits below the $500 budget, then the answer is the 6KU road bike. It features a lightweight design made from a high-quality aluminum frame. This bike is fully equipped with both front and rear brakes and a ride fixed gear with a flip-flop hub.

The 6KU road bike offers a comfortable ride with quality frame materials. You get various options to consider with several different sizes allowing you to get one that fits you best. The double-walled alloy wheels are instrumental in improving the quality of your ride, ensuring you have a smooth cruise.

With the bike weighing just under 30 pounds, the materials used are lightweight, and I can even carry the bike on my shoulders. You get two available colors, including charcoal black and white, and an urban design that will match your personality.


• It has a light and comfortable design that fits all riders
• There are various available sizes for a wide range of riders
• Affordable price with high-quality materials that enhance durability
• Easy maintenance and upkeep
• Increased safety with front and rear brakes
• Good starter bike for beginners


• Comes with only two available color options
• Average top speed that makes it unsuitable for racing

2. EURXC550 Road Bike – Rated best for big guys

The EURXC550 Road Bike is an excellent choice that is equipped with wonderful features and a great look. It is a heavily geared and multi-speed road bike with 21 speeds that allows you to ride on multi-surfaced and rough terrains. It is affordable and durable, offering comfortable control riding experiences on the trail.

The EURXC550 Road Bike comes almost in full state, so there was minimal assembling work required when I bought this model. The bikes come with an assembling manual, making the task very easy and fast. There are only two available frame sizes meaning it does not cater to all riders’ heights.


• Easy assembling with minimal tools required
• Sturdy steel frame construction that offers great shock absorption
• Iron casting handlebar for better control and easy handling
• 21-speed shifting system for different riding experiences
• Good gear and comfortable saddle seat


• Available only in two sizes

3. Eurobike HYXC550 Road Bike – Rated Best for exercise

The Eurobike HYXC550 Road Bike is an ideal men’s bike that costs just under $500. The process of attaching the pedals took me over an hour, but the performance made up for the hassle. It features a high-quality steel frame and fork that add extra weight to the bike. It also enhances stability and control on poor terrain.

The 21-speed shifting system offers above-average acceleration and top speeds making the bike ideal for beginners. The steel frame is more suitable for male riders, although female riders are not exclusively left out as they can also give it a try. It comes with a stylish design and better handling, thanks to the tires and handlebar.


• 21-speed shifting system and dual disc brakes enhance your riding experience
• The frame geometry is ideal for male riders
• Offer acceptable acceleration and top speed


• Requires buyers to buy some of the components

4. Hiland Aluminum Road Bike – Rated Best for Commuting

The Hiland Road Bike comes from a well-praised manufacturer and features an ultralight and sturdy aluminum frame. This model comes with 21 speeds and offers a comfortable high-speed experience. It is suitable for long-distance cycling, and it is my ideal choice when commuting to work.

This model maintains the same simple construction and lightweight as the above model but comes with a lower frame design. This means it requires less power for long rides. The wheels also enhance its high-speed experience and a comfortable ride.

The Hiland Aluminum Road Bike brake system features double caliper brakes that provide total control and no issues with bike stops. It comes 85% assembled, making it easy to assemble since I don’t like the struggle of assembling bikes. I highly recommend this bike, especially if you have little or no experience with how to assemble bikes.


• Suitable for long-distance riding due to its comfortable design
• Easy assembling with clear and easy to follow instructions for beginner riders
• Offers powerful riding with 21 speeds
• High-quality aluminum frame for a lightweight and reliable riding experience


• The frame construction is ideal only for men making it unsuitable for women

5.Vilano R2 Road Bike – Rated best for beginners

This is an excellent choice of entry-level rod bike for riders who are just starting bike riding. The Vilano R2 Road Bike is best for cost-conscious beginners due to its easy-to-control mechanism. It comes at an affordable low price and makes an excellent commuter that you can use for exercise or going to work.

One of the many features that stand out in this model is the double-butted aluminum aero frame. This makes the bike lightweight and suitable for beginners to support during acceleration. It also offers more balance and ease of control thanks to the quick-release skewers and wheels with thin rims.

Entry-level riders can choose their ideal riding style from the 21 speeds drivetrain that can handle any terrain. You also get free pedals, and you need to assemble and tune the bike after purchase.


• 21 speeds drivetrain that can handle any situation
• Ease of control due to its super lightweight nature and good, responsive design
• Front and rear suspensions that provide optimal control and better performance
• The frames weigh less, allowing cyclists to ride with minimal difficulty


• Not ideal for high-speed racing since the top speed is below average

6. Trinx TEMPO1.0 Road Bike – Rated best for Fitness Training

This is another great choice for enter-level riders and falls in the middle of the $500 price range. The Trinx TEMPO1.0 Road Bike features a lightweight aluminum frame that lowers the bike’s weight to around 20 pounds. The frame also provides beginner cyclists more control of the ride.

The 21 speeds drivetrain is extremely diverse and allowed me to ride comfortably on different terrains. However, you need to assemble the bike after buying it, but you get clear and easy-to-follow instructions to follow. The fork is made of steel to absorb shock vibration, while the brakes have a linear-pull style.

The geometries of the frame and seat are sporty and aerodynamic to allow the performance to shift greatly. It also increases comfort and endurance during rides.


• Ideal for beginner riders since it is easy to control
• 21-speed drivetrain that accommodates all types of surfaces
• Offers high-quality components and frame at an affordable price
• Durable and super lightweight that ensures it lasts long under frequent riding


• Needs to be assembled, but it is not complicated

7. Vilano Shadow 3.0 – Honorable Mention

Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike surprised me as a good inexpensive bike that offers a comfortable ride even on rough terrain like gravel. It is also ideal for casual riding, exercise, and commuting to work.

This entry-level bike features a double aluminum aero frame that is not usually found in road bikes under this price tag. The frame gives the bike stable control and overall lightweight.

One of the best features of this model is the Dual Pivot alloy caliper that is easy to use and very responsive. Additionally, it offers stability and smooth riding on a wide range of surfaces, including gravel terrains. I also liked the integrated shifters that provide accurate and controllable shifting and braking in a convenient single-unit design.

The bike assembly is not easy since I had a hard time with this bike. If you have bike assembling skills, they will come in handy after purchasing this bike.


• Features high-quality components that improve efficiency, speed, and performance
• 14 speeds to ride on all-terrain even on gravel
• Dual pivot caliper brakes offer responsiveness with minimal shock


• Comes partially assembled, meaning riders will have to use a lot of time to assemble the bike for riding

8. Schwinn Volare 1300 Men’s Drop Bar Road Bike – Honorable Mention

Schwinn Volare 1300 Men’s Drop Bar Road Bike has received a good rating from riders due to its unique features. It has a great reputation for its ease of assembly and is lightweight. It has an ergonomic design allowing you to handle it comfortably with no pain.

One of the features that stand out in this bike is its lightweight. The low weight allows you to move at high speed and boosts your performance when riding. This bike is suitable for both first-time riders and experienced riders as it can serve multiple purposes.

The bike is easy to assemble and typically takes a minimum of two hours to get the bike ready to hit the road. It comes with an instructions manual which you must follow carefully to ensure you get it right. You are also provided with all the necessary tools to assemble the bike.

The company is known to deliver top-of-the-line performance bikes with high-quality features. This model offers the same quality as others and can take you through any road regardless of the terrain. It is ideal for exercise, casual riding, and commuting purposes and delivers value for your money.

This bike offers impressive responsiveness with a perfect gear shifting system. It is packed with a good braking system featuring an alloy caliper allowing you to stop at any time. The 14 gear set will allow you to switch between high and low speeds.


• Offers versatility allowing you to use the bike for various activities
• It is user-friendly as it is easy and fun to assemble and ride
• Lightweight feature that enables it to achieve higher speeds than other models
• The bike is stylish, and it is available in different color combinations that you can choose from
• Highly durable and affordable


• Many people find it challenging to get the best fitting size since the height or size is not adjustable

Final Thoughts

Road bikes are mostly used on paved terrains and can take you fast and far depending on how your legs manage. Riding road bikes is an ideal way to commute as it helps to keep you fit and healthy. It is also very affordable, and you get to enjoy the outdoors. Cycling is also good for the environment since not a lot of emissions are produced.

You can get a high-quality bike at an affordable price. Even though you may not buy into the idea of the best road bikes under $500, there are great options for you to choose from. Any road bike from the above examples will not disappoint you.

The Best Cargo Bikes for Sale

Bikes are becoming more popular than ever as people begin to look for alternative ways to get exercise, commute to and from work, run errands, and many other things.

Cargo bikes are the perfect solution to “killing two birds with one stone”.

In our review, we’ll be covering the best cargo bike for every situation and price point. Stay tuned as we finish our research and post our findings.

In the mean time, you can read the other articles on Bike Juju to learn more about other biking, cycling, and related topics.

The Bicycles of Ethiopia – From a Bike-Obsessed Traveler

On a work trip to Ethiopia in May, I took these bike photos. Ethiopia is a warm and friendly country, and asking people about their bikes was an easy way to open conversations (though a white guy with a Nikon taking pictures also often attracted a crowd, laughing and talking in Amharic all around me).

This guy has a little sidewalk shop in Dessie doing repairs, with very limited tools and a lot of pals hanging around laughing and chewing khat.

In Ethiopia, bikes are just a tool for getting from A to B more quickly than walking and more comfortably than being jammed in a crowded minibus. Still, I think there is a joy of riding that’s universal. This kid was making lazy loops on a borrowed bike in the street by my hotel early one morning.

Most of the bikes I saw on this trip are the cheap Chinese Phoenix brand. Phoenix bikes (and some Indian bikes) have been ubiquitous in Africa for a long time. With the influx of Chinese investment in Africa (there are Chinese-engineered and -financed road projects underway everywhere you drive), there have been a wave of these newer bikes arriving in the “general merchandise” stores.

The newer “mountain bikes” are very cheaply made, and on balance, are probably not an improvement over the heavy old black bikes I’d seen on previous trips (with few parts, the tough old one-speed black bikes are indestructible, whereas the newer Phoenix bikes offer lots of cheaply made “extras” that quickly start rattling and falling apart).

Wandering around Mekele, a small city in the north of the country, I came to this little bike shop selling new Phoenix cycles and spare parts. I’d seen plenty of dirty little mechanics’ huts and bikes for sale in “general merchandise” shops alongside plumbing and roofing supplies and plastic buckets, but finding a dedicated storefront bike shop like this was unusual. The man in the store was assembling a Phoenix named Mebrah Tukiros, and told me the Phoenix bikes retail for between $75 and $125 depending on components.

Ethiopia is a vast rural country where the average per-capita income is somewhere just short of $1000, though in the small cities where I found these bikes, income is probably higher than that, with service employees, merchants, government workers, and other wage earners able to afford a bike. But most places we went there were almost no cars on the road, and in many places, there were horse carts and even, in some areas, camels.

Wandering around the city of Dessie, I came across a stand of bikes and started talking to the proprietors in the few common words of English and Amharic we shared (as a crowd gathered round to gawk at me and offer comments). The bikes were for rent, for five birr (or about fifty cents) an hour, though I am certain there is a high degree of price variability and barter available, depending on your relationship to the stand’s proprietors.

Teshome, the “pump man,” took care of charging customers, many of whom were returning bikes in the twilight hour after having run errands, pumping tires, and parking the bikes in a neat row. He suggested his friend Abush Hailu, and I take two of the bikes for a short ride. I jumped at the chance (their surprise, I think), rolled up a pant leg, and off we went down the urban obstacle course of rutted roads and throngs of people, staring at me as I passed on my rattling bike.

The bike was in terrible shape, with a non-functional front brake, a rear brake that barely functioned, nonfunctioning gears, and loose handlebars slightly misaligned. Still, it felt great to be back in the saddle after more than a week off bikes of any kind and to be hauling around Dessie, Ethiopia, with my new friend Abush. Until, after about 5 minutes, his chain came off.

We got that fixed (again, a “helpful” crowd had gathered), and Abush and I returned the bikes to the rental guys (they graciously refused my offer of ten cents rental fee). Then I took my new friend out for a little thank you, doing the thing Ethiopians do together, at dusk, in the city: a sidewalk cafe, the world walking by, and two perfectly-made macchiatos. You gotta love traveling in the birthplace of coffee. Mmmm.

Brazil Critical Mass Attack – Dozens of Cyclists Mowed Down by Motorist

This is a truly horrific story from Brazil, made all the more terrible by the fact that it is so well documented, and you can watch it unfold close-up, and by the fact that I haven’t been able to find any English-language coverage of it at all. Given the footage below, which shows a close-up of the accident attempted murder as it occurs, it is extremely fortunate that no cyclists or bystanders were killed.

The video below is very, very hard to watch- it shows a peaceful, pleasant-looking dusk ride, with a hundred or more cyclists of all kinds (fewer than half of whom are wearing helmets) riding through a medium-sized street in Puerto Alegre. Young and old riding together on a warm evening: a friendly-looking woman on a trike with her dog on the back, a guy in Red Bull kit, people on cruisers, some hipsters. It looks like a really fun, friendly evening ride.

And then, at 1:00 into the video, a black car literally mows through the cyclists from behind, carrying several cyclists on the hood and windshield, and the rest of the video is of shocked cyclists, twisted bikes, the injured being comforted on the pavement, and finally ambulances, and twisted bikes being carried away. Click below to play the video.

Added: Here is a better video that edits together footage from multiple cameras to provide a complete narrative, with English subtitles, including witness testimony and outrage at the end.

The Puerto Alegre Critical Mass blog has links to more videos and reflections on the incident.

The local news site Zero Hour says police have identified the driver and are waiting for him to turn himself in voluntarily (apparently, as of yesterday, he is not at his home address). It also has a video of the accident from a different perspective, shot from high above out an apartment window. The same video appears in this TV news report.

In the words of our friend Cabelo, who alerted me to this story, “Much light and energy to all who lived through this horrible experience.”

How Do Rod Brakes Work? A Visual Primer

It is probably not an overstatement when saying most bicycles in the world have rod brakes. They are a staple component on millions of roadster bicycles pumped out each year by venerable (and huge) Asian manufacturers like Flying Pigeon, Phoenix, Avon, Neelam, and Hero.

The Chinese manufacturers are starting to switch to mountain bikes, but the black rod brake roadsters are still for sale next to the mountain bikes in many places.

In the US today it’s extremely rare that you run across a bicycle with rod brakes. In fact, until I recently looked more closely at some rod brakes, I did not even fully understand how they work. I’m still no expert, but I took some photos as I looked at old Indian roadsters in Mozambique and thought I’d share them. There is a big chance I’m getting the exact terminology wrong (is there a name for the various pivoting joints?).

Let’s start at the rider’s hands. The rod brake levers connect at the handlebars center with a few pivots that are spring loaded. They connect with a sleeve-like joint, which allows the rod length to adjust and create tension in the brakes.

Rod brakes are often called “stirrup brakes” because of their shape. The front brake pulls up against the underside of the front rim, necessitating a different rim design than we are used to, called a Westwood rim, with room beside the spokes for the brake pads to make contact on the rim.

Meanwhile, as you can see, the rod for the rear brake engages a pivot at the top of the downtube. These Indian bikes have the rear brake rod coming down from the handlebars in front of the head tube; however, some Chinese models like Phoenix move it to the side of the head tube and engage a different design of pivot. Here’s my photo of the pivot on an old Indian bike compared to a new Chinese Flying Pigeon I found on Flickr.

The rear brake rod continues along under the downtube and pulls another pivot in front of the bottom bracket.

That pivot pulls the rear brake forward against the rim of the back wheel, parallel to the chainstays, to which it is attached.

Rod brakes are simple, bombproof parts, and you see them still working on old rusty Asian bikes (“black mambas”) through many countries in Africa. I’ve never ridden more than a short distance on a roadster with rod brakes, and I hear their stopping power is so-so, but they are easy to adjust and maintain, and they work.

I have been on several new-ish Chinese mountain bikes in Ethiopia (see my short video) where the caliper brakes were completely shot, as were the shifters, making them effectively brakeless one-speed bikes with lots of rattling parts hanging off them (as well as nine or ten unused cogs).

I’ll take brakes that work so-so over brakes that don’t work at all, any day of the week, and especially on the day, I’m riding a 50-pound bag of charcoal to market.