Ebiking with Physical and Mental Disabilities

Credible Hulk

Active Member
I have bipolar disorder, lower back problems and arthritis in my knees and hips. I haven't been able to work since 2010.
The combination of stigma around my mental illness (family and friends deserted me when they found out about my diagnosis) and pain from my back and joints caused me to isolate myself. I started to need a walker when I went out, which was humiliating to me (I'm only in my mid fifties) and people would stare. I slowly stopped going out and only went out to buy groceries if I couldn't afford to get them delivered. I started ordering everything else online. I sat at home with only my cats, my TV and my computer for company.

Then back in 2015 I saw an indiegogo ad for a low cost ebike. I had never heard of ebikes. When I was in my teens and twenties I was an avid cyclist and used to go on long tours and road races. Then life got in the way and I ended up selling my racing bike for food. I hadn't been on a bike since my mid twenties, and with my knee and back pain I didn't think I'd ever ride again. I decided to buy one of these ebikes because I thought it would allow me to ride a bike again without the pain. There were some delays with the ebike and I was convinced I'd never see it, so I bought an e-scooter instead.

Now three years later, the scooter's lead acid batteries died last year and it's sitting in my living room gathering dust. It was going to cost more than the scooter is now worth to get it back on the road. Another issue for me is that as my lower back gets worse it becomes more painful to move the scooter around. I did eventually receive the other ebike 6 months late, but the frame was far too big for me and after a couple of months I sold it.

This morning I ordered another bicycle e-bike. I made sure to find the correct frame size. Now I'm really looking forward to the spring so I can take it out on park trails and other places I couldn't go on my scooter. And as I'm writing this, they just sent me an email with the tracking number! Here's the bike, they ship to the US as well.

To sum up, these are the benefits I've enjoyed since I started riding ebikes:

- Getting out more, exploring the city. Being more open to going to events and attractions because it's faster and easier.

- Confidence to ride in traffic, at big intersections, especially making left turns. When I started riding my scooter I would walk it through the intersection on the crosswalks because I was afraid to turn left. I also used to panic if a vehicle came up too close along my left side.

- Human contact. Both the scooter and the ebike attracted a lot of positive attention and people asking questions. Isolation caused me to lose confidence to talk to strangers, now I'm more comfortable talking with strangers.

- Saving money. I don't have a car so I have to spend money on public transit. I live on the border of three municipalities, so I often have to take trips using multiple transit agencies/fares. I also save money on delivery and shipping charges when I go out to buy things instead of ordering them.

- Saving time. Riding an ebike directly to a destination saves time wasted on slow, overcrowded transit vehicles that don't go where I need to go.

- Physical fitness. Moving a heavy scooter around exercises core muscles. Riding a pedelec ebike moves my knee and hip joints and I can choose how much motor assist I need based on how my knees feel that day. Overall, riding ebikes has helped my balance a lot, and I've found I don't need the walker as much during the riding season, and I can get by with a cane.
 

ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
Welcome to the forum! We are so glad to have you here!

When did you get your ebike? What an awesome list of benefits that you've gotten. My teen son is autistic and ebiking has been amazing for him. It's always fun to get out of the house and ride. As his mom, I'm working to get things he needs (like dentist!) within biking distance, so he'll be more and more capable and have that confidence that comes with growing independence.

We are so glad that you are here, and I hope that the positive social interaction here is another benefit for you.

Good point about frame size. My neighbor also ordered a bike online and ... can't ride it. Same problem. Live and learn. Your story will help others!

We look forward to hearing about your adventures! :)
 

Credible Hulk

Active Member
Welcome to the forum! We are so glad to have you here!

When did you get your ebike? What an awesome list of benefits that you've gotten. My teen son is autistic and ebiking has been amazing for him. It's always fun to get out of the house and ride. As his mom, I'm working to get things he needs (like dentist!) within biking distance, so he'll be more and more capable and have that confidence that comes with growing independence.

We are so glad that you are here, and I hope that the positive social interaction here is another benefit for you.

Good point about frame size. My neighbor also ordered a bike online and ... can't ride it. Same problem. Live and learn. Your story will help others!

We look forward to hearing about your adventures! :)
Thanks for the welcome! I've actually been on this board since 2015 during the Great Sondors Ebike Scandal (lol) but since my scooter has been defunct for almost 2 years I didn't come back here during that time. I missed having an ebike to ride but had to save my pennies to afford another one.

I bought both the scooter and the ebike in 2015. I sold the ebike about a year later. This year I had to decide whether I wanted to get the scooter back on the road or just buy a new ebike. I decided on the ebike because the scooter is a beast to wrestle into elevators, around corners, in narrow hallways. It was ok when I first bought the scooter, but now my lower back is shot and I feel it when I try to move the scooter. Scooters are both extremely heavy and have a very poor turning radius. If you turn the wheel too far the whole thing comes crashing down. It used to take me about half an hour just to turn it on a 45 degree angle to line up at my apartment door so I could go out. Then there was the turn into the hallway to get to the elevators. Finally the wrestling match to fit it inside the elevator before the door closed. A bike is a lot easier because you can turn the wheel much further, it's lighter and the front end can be lifted if needed. Scooters are for people who have garages or whose landlords let them use a parking space (mine won't). It took me a long time just to find a model with a short enough wheelbase to even fit in an elevator, but it's still a tight fit.

Re frame sizes, a lot of people (including me) don't pay much attention to them, or the retailer doesn't disclose the frame size. That's pretty bad for online retailers. It's like selling clothing without letting the customer choose their size. Obviously the customer can't try out the bike before they order one. I've found most ebikes have 19 inch frames and no other choice is given. That size of frame is fine for a man between 6 feet and 6 foot 4, not a woman who's 5'6".

The retailer I chose offers several models, each with a different frame size. They even provide a diagram which shows all of the dimensions of the bike including the "reach" to the handlebars, the min and max heights for seat and handlebars, and the minimum standover height. I chose a 17 inch step through model because I can't swing my leg over the saddle anymore because of my hips and knees. So far I'm pretty impressed with this retailer. I checked them out here on this board and someone who bought one of their ebikes last year was very happy with their service. As soon as they shipped my order they emailed the manual to me. I also got an email from their courier telling me the bike should arrive early (March 6 vs March 11). Too bad it'll probably have to sit in my apartment for a couple of weeks because of the weather!
 

ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
Let us know how you like the bike! I'm 5'5", so totally relate to the "too big frame" problem and the "reach" issue is also very important. We'll look forward to an update! :)