I'm just relearning to ride after a 30 year hiatus. I am physically in very good shape so I have good muscle tone but my balance is sketchy. Am okay on the straightaway but when I slow down I get very wobbly. Any advice on how to handle my hybrid bike better in narrow spaces or when I have to slow down? Many thanks.

  • 5
    Sounds like a technique thing. Try dangling one or more feet a bit sooner when stopping, and brake more firmly so that the period of slow rolling is shorter. And welcome back to riding!
    – Criggie
    Oct 23, 2016 at 19:01
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    The same way you get to Carnegie Hall -- practice, practice, practice. However, do get a few other cyclists to observe your "style" and posture, to see if there's anything obvious that you're doing wrong, or if there's a problem with the bike fit. One common problem is having the seat too high or too low. For learning you want it a little lower than "proper" riding height, but not much. Oct 23, 2016 at 19:48
  • 1
    This is one case where a "granny bike" is a good idea - the low step-through, relaxed geometry, swept-back handlebars all make the bike easy and safe to ride.
    – Móż
    Oct 24, 2016 at 0:01
  • I've got a folding bike and its quite twitchy - is your bike a normal hybrid with flat handlebars ?
    – Criggie
    Oct 24, 2016 at 0:52

3 Answers 3


There are three common causes for erratic steering at low speed.

  • A possible cause, but the least likely, is that the head stem is too tight. When not on the bike try turning the handlebars. If the movement feels "lumpy" then it needs adjustment.

  • Riding a bike that has more aggressive geometry than we're used to. You could try borrowing a shopping bike (the kind with an upright riding position and a basket on the front) to see if it's easier to control. If this is the case, then more practice on your own bike should solve it. Meanwhile, as Criggie said, try stopping more quickly so that you spend less time at low speed.

  • Being out of practice. If the first two suggestions don't help then the solution is just more practice.

Take care.

  • possibly also speed of reflexes?
    – Móż
    Oct 24, 2016 at 0:00
  • 2
    @Móż Ok for you to say, young fella! But seriously, since she claims to be fit, and balance reactions are autonomic, I expect she just needs practice to tune them to her new bike.
    – andy256
    Oct 24, 2016 at 0:15
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    The self-stabilizing property of a bicycle is also reduced at slower speeds, requiring greater input from the rider.
    – Rider_X
    Oct 26, 2016 at 3:37
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    @Rider_X Yes, that's what makes Criggie's suggestion of slowing down more quickly valuable. If you can follow the meaning of that convoluted English. Parse three times for alternate meanings :-)
    – andy256
    Oct 26, 2016 at 3:47
  • @andy256 - my point was less proximate, in that the physics are working against slow speed balance. Personally it's nice to know I am not incompetent, and that the task is simply more difficult.
    – Rider_X
    Oct 26, 2016 at 16:52

I'm 68 - a few years younger. I picked up cycling 6 months ago after a near 50 year break. I have mild MS and a balance problem. As Andy and others have mentioned - practice, practice. The balance issue will go away - it will seem automatic and you will never think about it.

When I first started again it was fortunate to stumble upon a large hybrid comfort bike - Specialized Crossroads Elite circa 2010. This cost me all of $40.00. It has large hybrid tyres 700c x 40. This is a relatively heavy bike, but very stable. It has front suspension so going over bumps does not get transmitted through to your balance system. After 6 months I'm now at the stage where it's actually too slow. So I bought another hybrid - a Shogun Metro. It has no suspension. It took me a while to get used to no suspension - I still prefer the Specialized.

However I'm at the stage of selling the Shogun and getting a flatbar road bike. (To go faster)

I'll will not sell the specialized though - I enjoy riding it - it's so comfortable and stable.

I just enjoy the cycling. Plus I've lost 15 kilo's (30 pounds) since starting cycling so doctor is a happy chappy.

  • 1
    Impressive weight loss, well done.
    – Kilisi
    Oct 27, 2016 at 13:23

In addition to the excellent answer from andy. Both the eyes and ears can affect balance. If you have any deterioration in these then this is a possible cause. Balance is a complex mostly involuntary system, any deterioration in any part of it can cause problems, but vision and your inner ear are the main controllers.

While practice can mitigate to some extent, this isn't something that is fixable, in fact it usually gets worse.

I'm NOT a doctor of any sort.

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