It's a cold world when you're trying to explain you're bad back when your age doesn't correlate. Here are the best bikes for bad backs; no need to explain.
Suppose you constantly have a sore behind, a spine situation that seems to have never been stacked right, some lumbar discs that are oppressed, or some nerves that are always pressed. In that case, you know the pain of trying to find a good chair, let alone a good bike.
Fortunately, there’s many choices of bicycles to choose from:
- Specialized Roll Low-Entry
- Sixthreezero EVRY Journey 250W
- Slsy Adult Trike
- Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure Fully Loaded Edition
- Cannondale Quick CX 3
- Electra Townie Go! 7D Step-Thru
- Specialized Crosstrail Sport
- Hyper E-ride
I know, I know, no thanks required. If you don't already feel the same excitement I felt just by having this list, then you need to read on. I not only give a good case for each bike, but I also highlight the qualities that make each option something worthy of your touchy behind, and I'll stake my backbone on that.
Suppose I've been fortunate enough to have had your attention for more than one article. In that case, you will know I am passionate about anything. That's why I've put way too much time into researching what makes a bike ideal for bad backs and ended up with these choices after perusing bike forums filled with the lot with woeful backs, customer feedback, and first-hand reviews from places like road.cc, bicycling.com, and probably too many others.
8 Best Bikes For Bad Backs
Having a bad back doesn't necessarily mean you must start riding recumbent bikes. If your bad back comes with considerable pain, you might feel more comfortable on one of the recumbent bikes I recommended in my other post about bikes to ride when you have lower back pain.
Otherwise, picking up a hybrid bike with an upright riding position and maybe some suspension can greatly help aid your bad back. Cruiser bikes and trikes with large saddles are also a fantastic option, as you'll now see.
1. Specialized Roll Low-Entry
The 2020 Specialized Roll Low-Entry is the perfect companion for people that have been searching for a steed to help them reel in their fitness. Specialized knows how to make a true hybrid without compromising their artisanal aesthetics, quality components, and nearly unmatched comfort.
The Roll Low-Entry is seductively priced at $535, but you seem to pay the rest in weight as even the smallest-sized version of the bike is a hefty 30.6 pounds. There isn't a genuine reason for the noticeable mass besides that Specialized didn't have speed on the agenda while designing the Roll.
The Low-Entry Roll's frame is made from A1 Premium Aluminum with Ground Control Positioning, which is basically the step-through frame that makes up its nomenclature. The drop frame makes it easy to balance the bike by planting your feet on the ground during stops and easies the back strain of having to mount and dismount.
They might not come with pre-installed racks and panniers, but it has mounts for aftermarket installation. The chiseled upright riding position of the bike does make it harder on inclines, but it generally supports cruising on both tarmac and humble towpath.
The wide 650b x 2.3 inch Nimbus II Sport supports the saddle's comfort, and they have excellent flat resistance despite not having the grip you'd find on more premium tires and despite being slow rollers. The tires are also stable, and the inflation gauge on the valve has a green indicator that disappears when it's time to put some air back into the tires.
The Roll Low-Entry surprises with its look even though it has cables seemingly flailing everywhere without being integrated into the frame, primarily at the bike's front end where cables connect to the outdated rim brakes.
Specialized's use of an extra-wide saddle on the Low-Entry Roll significantly increases the amount of time your back will allow you to ride. The Body Geometry saddle has "The Cup" design that eases pressure on your tailbone and the contour in the middle to all-around comfort.
2. Sixthreezero EVRY Journey 250W
The electrified version of the EVRY Journey is every bit of whimsy that its manual sibling is with a motor boost. The Journey without the motor goes for around $600.
Still, the Journey 250W jumps up to $1,399.99, which is a bit of a shame since you could get more intentional electric bikes like the $1,799 Aventon Level, the $1,299 Aventon Soltera, or the electric cruiser Model E for $1,899 from the Electric Bike Company which seems to best meets what the Journey ventured to accomplish.
However, the Sixthreezero is persistent, and hard work and persistence pay off as the 250W Journey narrowly secured a spot above its competitors. Unlike ordinary electric bikes, the Journey brings a lot of the comfort we've come to only expect from beach cruisers without succumbing to the trap of lethargy that most cruiser rides end up in, which means that this Journey works fine as eye-candy for painlessly cruising on the boardwalk to running errands in the city streets.
This 62.4-pound Journey is one of the most comfortable bikes you can get. The upright and gentle geometry is complemented by forwarding peddles and a frame height closer to the ground to optimize pedaling and standing comfort. The plush faux-leather grips complete the welcoming contact point where the main focus is the broad, foam-padded saddle.
The rider height range that the bike allows is generous at 5 feet to 6'4," but it's better if you get yourself fitted since you want a precise fit if you're grappling with a tumultuous back. The 250 W rear hub motor might not be the best, but it offers pedal and throttle assist. You can go 15mph on the throttle, and 24mph on the pedal assist.
The mileage isn't great at 15 to 30 miles from a 250 Wh battery, but since you can ride the bike without engaging the motor, you can have fun until you're exhausted and call in the motorized calvary. The 26x1.95-inch tires also help further cushion the ride, as does the entire build of the bike. With the geometry built to ease the strain on shoulders, back, knees, and arms, you should be able to exercise and run errands without worrying about having to ice anything later.
The groupset has some entry-level Shimano components that are aimed to elevate the build a tiny bit. There's a generic Shimano 14/28T cassette married to a 44T crankset that will probably require electric assistance on routes with some climbs.
The 7-speed Shimano Index Revo Shifter is reasonable to budget transitioning equipment further helped by the Shimano Tourney TY300D rear derailleur. The cable-driven disc brakes aren't rim brakes, so they have that going for them. All in all, your back, shoulders, and neck should thank you for this purchase.
3. Slsy Adult Trike
Even if the Slsy Adult Trike had nothing going for it, it would still be affordable, convenient, and straightforward to ride. The Slsy comes in a version with 24-inch wheels for riders between 4'11" to 5'10" and a 26-inch version for heights ranging from 5'3" to 6'2". There's also a version with 20-inch wheels and a unique foldable Slsy with 20-inch wheels.
The bike has 7-speed grip shifters that are easy to get to and adjust. The 7-speeds also perform better than the Schwinn Meridian Adult Trike at tackling slight inclines. The whole frameset is made from some robust steel that can stomach 350 pounds without complaint.
There are pre-installed fenders on all three wheels, offering superb coverage from splashes and dirt. Like most trikes, the Slsy is not light with its 65 pounds, but you shouldn't ever have to worry about picking it up. Bike promotes a healthier and more upright riding posture that doesn't tax your back muscles and knees.
The oversized rear basket is great for packing groceries or a picnic basket to the park, and the low step-over height doesn't aggravate your back every time you mount it. Swept-back handlebars with comfortable grips and a reasonably wide saddle are a fantastic addition to the $345 bike.
4. Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure Fully Loaded Edition
Although the $1,600-ish Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure Fully Loaded Edition doesn't welcome a price tag as the $950 Ribble Hybrid AL Commuter Shimano 1.0, it offers far more riding possibilities without breaking your back. The entire build is made to allow easy riding on tarmac, towpath, and light gravel.
The SRAM NX 1x gearing system has a single shifter that's rather small in stature for riders with well-endowed hands. The beautifully crafted synthetic leather LEVEL Urban Ergo Gel grips have their brownish color matching the color accents of the sidewall of the 650bx1.85 inch WTB Horizon Road Plus TCS tires.
The Ribble Classic Saddle is surprisingly comfortable even over 12-mile rides, and its tan color matches the rest of the hazel color highlights. A bike this pleasing to look at seems a cheat also to have such nimble and responsive handling.
The Hybrid AL is not slow like other insecure hybrids, and all the included accessories like the bell, lights, pannier rack, and mudguards don't make it look utilitarian. The mudguards are made from reinforced plastic which slightly steals away from the premium looks when you're up close.
The 6061-T6 aluminum frame is complemented by a full carbon fork which probably helped to reel in the 24ish pound weight. The drivetrain is entirely composed of SRAM components, with the 11-speed cassette being an 11-42T SRAM PG-1130 that's joined by a single-drive 42T SRAM S350 GXP chainset.
A long cage SRAM NX 1x11 rear derailleur further pushes ease of riding, and it doesn't appear to cause people much of any hassles during bumpy rides. Also, the Tektro HD-R280 Hydraulic Disc brakes are an economical addition that does as they should in most conditions.
5. Cannondale Quick CX 3
Cannondale Quick CX 3 has a sturdy SmartForm C3 Alloy frame that can take hits of the bike's multi-terrain claim. The CX 3 is manufactured using Cannondale's SAVE manufacturing approach, which works as a form of "micro-suspension" by manipulating the material makeup to add comfort to the frame without affecting its rigidity.
The sleek frame also has internally routed cabling with an Intellimount Stem, making mounting your phone or tracking device on the center of the stem effortless. The fork is a Suntour NEX-E25 suspension with a meek 63 mm of travel and a lockout mechanism to quieten the front before journeying on smooth paths.
The drivetrain combines Shimano Acera, Tourney, and SunRace components, which all scream entry-level. The 8-speed Shimano ST-EF505 shifters are surprisingly good, while the 46/30T Shimano Tourney crankset and 11-34t Sunrace rear cogs aren't anything special.
The brake system has a Tektro HD-T275 hydraulic disc on the front and a Tektro HD-R280 hydraulic disc on the back of the bike, which is generally considered to be okay but typically doesn't last very long.
The Quick CX 3 does have a more relaxed geometry than regular hybrids, but it does require a bit of lean, which might not be great if your back plight seems to deteriorate continually. 700x40c Vittoria Terreno Dry tires are good value and offer decent speed even though they might slip on you on terrain with slithery mud.
To bring everything in, Cannondale topped their build with Cannondale Dual-Density grips and a Cannondale Fitness Ergo Double Density saddle which might still be a bit harsh to some people. Oh, as usual, Cannondale threw in their Wheel Sensor to help you get those metrics if you're riding for fitness.
6. Electra Townie Go! 7D Step-Thru
Electra Townie Go! 7D Step-Thru is one of the market's more amiably priced electric bikes. Its geometry also reminisces simpler days on a beach cruiser chasing the sunset. The 6061-T6 aluminum step-through frame is tough as nails, as well as the Hi-ten steel unicrown fork.
The 7D doesn't come with fenders, racks, and panniers that you'd expect from a bike that cries no other function save leisurely rides through town and woods. However, there are mounting pins that you can easily equip with affordable aftermarket accessories.
The balloon 26x2.35 inch tires aren't made to be fast, but they help bring in the comfort lost from the bike not having suspension. The tires plant themselves solidly even in wet weather with the electronic components not much affected by the perspiration.
The wide Ergonomic saddle has shock-absorbing elastomers and allows you to enjoy the Class 1's 20 to 50-mile range you get from the 250Wh Hyena battery. The battery does come with a 2 Amp charger with the bike capable of taking an additional 250Wh range extender on the downtube.
The 250W rear hub Hyena motor does well to give you a lot of pedal assistance of up to 20 mph, and you might even forget that you don't have throttle assistance. The entry-level Shimano components are commendable with their 42T chainring and 14-34t 7-speed cassette.
The 7D has a pristine finish, and nothing really feels excessive with everything like the battery, motor, cadence, and much-loved torque sensor tucked neatly where they ought to be. This 44.01-pound machine is probably as light as it is affordable, meaning that it's none of the above when it's priced at $1,749.99.
7. Specialized Crosstrail Sport
The Crosstrail Sport might not be as decent a package as its competition at the $850 mark, like the Trek Dual Sport 3. Still, this could be an option to consider for newcomers that want a bike more tailored to fitness riding without an insufferable geometry.
The frame is Specialized A1 SL Premium Aluminum with internal cabling, a peppy top tube, and Plug and Play fender and rack mounts. The stem is also made in-house and cooperates impressively with the SR Suntour NEX suspension fork.
The 55 mm of travel from the fork is kept in place not with a lockout mechanism but with a Specialized Fitness Brain technology. This Brain technology minimizes fidgeting on smooth surfaces and when pushing the bike beside you.
The double-butted alloy backswept handlebars and Specialized Canopy Sport saddle aren't world-shattering finishes, but they seem to be more of a highlight than the drivetrain components. The saddle is durable and sporty but fails to offer the fuller support you'd want with a dicey lumbar situation.
Before getting to the heartbreaking drivetrain component composition, I must mention the Trigger Sport Reflect tires. These 700x38 mm tires aren't the most straightforward going lot, but they are reliable, durable, refreshingly fast-rolling, and carefree on gravel. These tires turn a city commuter into an all-around fitness companion.
Now, they tell in what would have been an otherwise compelling illusion: the woeful engine of the Crosstrail Sport. 9-speed microSHIFT levers don't do much to elevate the experience you get from the microSHIFT Marvo LT front derailleur and only good-picking Shimano Alivio rear derailleur. Alivio isn't great but compared to the cluster that's here.
The final build would have benefited if it had stuck with only Shimano. An 11-36t SunRace cassette is paired up 3x FSA Alpha Drive 44/27t crankset. However, people seem to have the most prominent issue with the Tektro HD-R305 front, and Tektro HD-R310 rear hydraulic disc brakes. These are probably some of the cheapest offerings on the market and fall short of what Shimano or SRAM offers in the entry market.
8. Hyper E-ride
The Hyper E-ride doesn't belong on a list about the best of anything. It's not particularly good at anything, and none of its specs and features exceed any of the other bikes I've researched and recommended. But, when I was stalking this bike, I couldn't help thinking that it would be perfect for teens who have hurt their backs too many times.
The E-ride has some aesthetics that would momentarily fool you for an electric bike that costs much more than its $648 price tag. With that price, you might as well hold off buying a bike for a while longer and get a proper entry-level bike at the average $1,300 to $1,500 range.
But, you aren't guaranteed that the electric bike you get will have a riding posture that's just upright enough to not aggravate any back issues without being overly straight. As the first electric bike for teens about 5'3" and under 6 feet, this bike will help curb their descent into a genuinely harrowing back pain saga when they're older.
The saddle isn't fantastic like most features on the bike, and you could further add comfort to the ride if you replace it with a broad, dual-spring, and properly cushioned seat, but it isn't a barebone saddle that's optimized for speed. This Class 1, 700c electrified bike does offer three easily adjustable speed modes, with the highest mode capable of going 20 mph.
The seamlessly integrated and lockable 36 V, 7.8 AH Li-ion battery can give the rider about 20 miles or around an hour runtime, which is perfect for a commuting bike to and from school. The charging can be done straight on the bike or with the battery removed; it takes about 4 hours to charge the bike fully.
The 50.7 pounds of weight that the aluminum bike is heavy but not surprising for an electric bike. The rim brakes used probably contribute to the lower-than-expected weight. The 36V motor is a brushless rear-hub 250W package.
Hyper managed to tack on some low-level Shimano components like the 6-speed Shimano grip shifters and the Shimano rear derailleur. The bike does come with a decent rear rack and some front suspension. Hyper E-ride doesn't sound like much, but if you can get it for about $500 or less at Walmart, it becomes a great bike to customize to your lumbar needs.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson