Relaxed slow bike
March 25, 2019 7:28 AM   Subscribe

I want to find a bike which is slow and relaxed and can handle ground that is a bit muddy and rough or advice on how to turn my existing bike into this if possible?

I bought a hybrid bike but it feels like in order not to fall off I have to be hurtling forwards at all times much faster than I would like to be going. It feels like what someone who drives a car would think a bike is whereas i want something that feels like what someone who walks everywhere would think a bike is. Also something that would work with a heavy rucksack or I could attach a trailer to.

I don't really understand enough about how bikes work to understand exactly what means I'm been forced to go faster than I would like or if this is just how bikes are? So any advice on what to look for in terms of set up would be appreciated. Links to individual models would be useful as examples (btw I'm in the UK) but I'm more interested in understanding the general principles of what to look for as I would probably be buying second hand
posted by mosswinter to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like maybe the frame is too big for you? Whatever style of bike shouldn't feel like the way you are describing. If you are interested in buying a new bike, first make sure you have someone at a bike shop check out the fit. Second, check out "cruiser" bikes and "dutch style" bikes - these are made to be slow and easy. I like the styling on Linus dutch-type bikes, but I think Linus tends to run more expensive than other brands. Generally, these bikes have "swept back' handle bars and an "upright" riding style that keeps things leisurely. The bikes also tend to be heavy and cushy - comfortable but slow.
posted by Mid at 7:36 AM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Two rules of thumb: To go fast, you want to have skinny tires and to be leaning forward; to go slowly, thicker tires and a more upright riding position. The first thing to try is to raise the handlebars so you are more upright, and the second is swapping in thicker tires.

If you are not an experienced rider, it might just be a matter of practice. The slower you go, the more difficult it is to balance; conversely, the better you are at balancing, the slower you can comfortably go.

Also, take a look at a "types of bike" review (e.g.).
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:38 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

The muddy and rough area is mostly going to be about appropriate tires. For stability at low speeds, look for something with more relaxed frame geometry -- a less-upright head tube, longer top tube and chainstays. Basically you want the opposite of a racing/competition style bike that would have a short wheelbase (distance between axles) and be built to be nimble. Can you link to the model you have so we know where you're coming from?
posted by jon1270 at 7:45 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding it sounds like you want a Dutch style city bike, maybe with a step-through frame. Possibly you also need to try lower gears so you're pedalling the same speed but going slower? I have a huge e-assist Dutch cargo bike but at the lowest gear can easily creep along at walking pace.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

FWIW I just searched for "bike geometry stability" and the first hit looks like a pretty good overview.
posted by jon1270 at 8:42 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I ❤️❤️❤️ my Specialized low entry cruiser, it's is everything I dreamed a bike could be, though it is not as maneuverable for tight corners as my mountain bike, which is totally hunched over.

You can try these other specialized cruisers which looking at the bike geometry link above might be the comfort / performance tradeoff you need.

In case it's not clear, the actual brand name is Specialized lol
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:02 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

PS I did not pay that much for my bike, shop around. That's just the msrp.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:03 AM on March 25, 2019

As an alternative to the nice-but-pricey Linus, keep your eye out for old Raleigh’s and Schcwinns with the internal hubs. They last forever, are low maintenance, and mostly count as cruisers/Dutch style by modern conventions.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:09 AM on March 25, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers so far, very helpful! The one I have is the Carrera Subway
posted by mosswinter at 9:15 AM on March 25, 2019

I'm wondering if it's too big for you or if, as others have suggested, you'd benefit more from being on a bike where you are more upright, where you don't have to lean forward to reach the handlebars. You are in a bit more of an aggressive mountain biking stance with your hands and those handlebars.

Another possibility would be to switch out the handlebars to something like this, where you don't to reach as far and your hands are in a different position. You'll see that city bikes like Linus Bikes that people are talking about tend to have handlebars more like that.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:49 PM on March 25, 2019

Do you already make use of your gears? If not, it may just be a different gear you need, and not a different bike. Try the littlest one in front with a big one in back. My apologies if that’s already beyond obvious to you!
posted by daisyace at 2:38 AM on March 26, 2019

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