It's an unfortunate fact of life that as people get older, their sense of balance diminishes. This means that seniors have a higher than average risk of falling when cycling. They may be less likely to do so, however, if the senior-specific Sofie e-bike reaches production.
The Sofie is the result of a collaboration between three Dutch groups – the University of Twente, e-mobility company Indes, and Roessingh Research & Development.
Its frame has a steeper head angle than most bikes, along with a shorter wheelbase. Along with relatively small wheels, these features reportedly make it more stable when travelling at low speeds, which is when most falls occur.
Once the rider gets on and gets moving, a couple of other features come into play.
First of all, the motor is designed to very quickly bring the bike up to its modest maximum speed of 18 km/h (11 mph), getting the rider past that risky slow zone as fast as possible. Secondly, once the bike does get up to speed, its seat automatically rises to put the cyclist in a more efficient pedalling position – once they slow down again, the seat goes back down, allowing them to place their feet firmly on the ground when coming to a stop.
Although the consortium has approached several bicycle manufacturers about producing the Sofie commercially, there are presently no takers.
Source: University of Twente
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