Read about the main types of walking bikes out on the market today, in addition to major brands, models, and other types of alternative bikes that are similar to walking bikes.
Different Types of Mobility And Walking Bikes
QUICK SUMMARY: Read about the main types of walking bikes out on the market today, in addition to major brands, models, and other types of alternative bikes that are similar to walking bikes.
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In the early days of cycling development in the 19th century, bikes looked a lot different from today’s perfectly streamlined design. Many were more like an elliptical machine than a bicycle, using both lower and upper body motions to propel the machine forward. Fast forward to the 21st century and designers are coming out with “walking bikes” to open new options for people who want a capable bike, but have situations or preferences that normal bicycles cannot suit.
Walking bikes can take different forms depending on what issue they’re intended to remedy from a normal bike. In general, walking bikes are made to keep the rider more upright, and mimic a normal strolling stride. The unique stance also affects the walking bike mechanism, which can range from fully electric, fully mechanical, or a hybrid electric assist.
The reasons that people buy walking bikes are as varied as their design. The most common reason revolves around the inability or discomfort of riding a standard bicycle. The range of motion in your legs, the discomfort of the saddle, and problems maintaining balance have all contributed to the engineering of different models. One company, which we will look at closer below, is made for people with mobility issues from conditions or injuries to help them move about easier. Folks also like walking bikes because it can be easier than a normal bicycle, particularly those walking bikes that use electric or electric-assist motors. This can allow people to commute or exercise as if they’re simply taking a stroll, but are increasing their speed and efficiency.
Below, we’ll discuss the main types of walking bikes out on the market today, in addition to major brands, models, and other types of alternative bikes that are similar to walking bikes.
Types of Walking Bikes
In the terms of this article, there are generally two types of walking bikes. One is made to assist people who can use them as a mobility aid, and those that are propelled by a normal walking stride. The latter allows the rider to “stand up” and often employ using your feet to push the bike forward or to balance and control speed down descents. These bikes are typically made to be stable, using three or four wheels to prevent the user from falling over.
The other type resembles a treadmill on wheels. Not necessarily made to solve problems, these bikes simply allow someone to stand up and walk on a treadmill while reaching higher speeds and maintaining a casual stride. Since this walking bike mechanism is much less efficient than a normal bicycle, an electric motor is used to assist the rider.
Current walking bike models are mainly provided by two main companies: Alinker and Lopifit. Both are very unique in the cycling world and serve very different needs, so we’ll explain the origins of these two companies and their product.
Alinker, which was founded by Dutch designer and entrepreneur Barbara Alink, is a walking bike that can help disabled riders regain active mobility. Inspired by her mother’s reluctance to use canes, scooters, and other traditional mobility aids, Alink wanted to provide the elderly and others with injuries or chronic conditions to remain active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
The Alinker was launched in 2014 in Holland using a crowdfunding campaign. Encouraged by the success, Alink started another crowdfunding campaign in North America just a couple of years later, which saw similar success and allowed users to access this mobility walking bike across Canada and the United States. Barbara Alink is primarily an architect and has spent time abroad building schools for children in former war zones, and Alinker is committed to donating 1 out of every 100 bikes sold to victims of landmines. The cost of Alinker is just under $2,000, but the company offers financing options to help break up the cost.
Designed to keep the rider upright, the Alinker allows the user to mount the bike without having to lift their leg over the frame. Once astride, the rider can walk the bike along while steering with the handlebars and controlling speed with the brakes. The Alinker has a folding design, making it easy for city dwellers to save space and prepare the bike for travel with a few easy steps.
Another invention coming out of the cycling culture of the Netherlands, Lopifit bikes are the originators of the “treadmill” type of walking bikes that are becoming popular in Europe and North America. The inventor, Bruin Bergmeester, originally wanted a treadmill that could go outdoors and increase the distance covered by a leisurely walk.
The Lopifit is purely designed to be fun and does require some agility to keep the two-wheeled vehicle going and upright. Utilizing 5 gears and an electric-assist motor, the bike can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour with less effort than a traditional bicycle. Since you’re standing upright and walking on the treadmill component of the bike, this eliminates saddle discomfort altogether.
Currently being sold online or through a few dealers, Lopifits are becoming increasingly popular in beach vacation communities. You can buy a Lopifit directly for $2,895 and choose from 5 different colors.
The walking bike is a fun alternative to a normal bicycle, and being able to use an electric-assist certainly extends the speed and range that you can enjoy your bicycle. For those looking to make an active lifestyle easier and change the way you enjoy your neighborhood or community, the Lopifit may be an excellent choice.
Other Alternative Bikes
While walking bikes have emerged as a niche unto their own in the cycling world, other types of alternative bikes have been around for a while to assist with riders looking for a different experience or remedy an obstacle presented by traditional bicycles.
For example, elliptical bikes are filling a growing sector in alternative cycles to provide riders with a full-body workout while getting to enjoy the outdoors in a low impact way. Just like a stationary elliptical, an elliptical bike allows you to stand up the entire time while pedaling in a more fluid motion. Some models, including a few from popular brand Elliptigo, are a hybrid elliptical motion that gives you a similar pedal stroke to a normal bike.
Recumbent bikes are also popular for their low impact characteristics and have been around in their modern form for quite some time. Reclined into a wider seat, recumbent bikes are more comfortable for riders who experience pain or discomfort from traditional bike saddles. Given their low-stance and ability to cut drag, recumbent bikes are efficient velocipedes and allow riders to maintain similar speeds to their traditional counterparts.
With so many alternatives and adaptive cycling options available today, the pleasures and benefits of riding are more accessible than ever. As inventors and cyclists continue to keep pushing the limits of this technology, more people will be able to enjoy green transportation and fitness outdoors on their terms.