12

I enjoy my road bike, but recently my children have become old enough to ride, but still very slowly. I'd like to be able to ride with them on all or mostly flat pavement, but the road bike just isn't pleasant for slow riding as it takes more effort to balance and isn't that comfortable.

What type(s) of bike is well-suited for very slow comfortable riding like this?

  • 2
    How about a cruiser? – renesis Jul 13 '18 at 15:08
  • 6
    Road bike position and geometry is really designed for constant hard effort, its not surprising you are finding it uncomfortable. – Rider_X Jul 13 '18 at 17:21
  • I have a fondness for Bike Friday's folders (well -- mostly the now-discontinued Tikit); since they custom-build the frames you can pick the posture you want; combining an upright posture with a folder's small wheels (shifting gearing ratios towards lower speeds with more torque) is a good combination for the use case, if one has also selected a comfy saddle, appropriate handlebars, &c. – Charles Duffy Jul 13 '18 at 19:49
  • Depending on where they are in riding, you can get arms that attach to an adult bike to help tow them along – Batman Jul 14 '18 at 1:06
  • 1
    Serious suggestion - a scooter works reasonably well for the adult. I have an adult's sized one used for trotting the dog. That would keep up wiht kids doing 10-14 km/h perfectly well. – Criggie Jul 14 '18 at 8:12
24

Any bike with a comfortable seat, upright riding position and low ratio gears.

This is pretty much the definition of a 'cruiser' style bike.

Many hybrids, less expensive mountain bikes and fatbikes would fit the requirement too.

  • 4
    Of all my bikes the hard tail and the MTBSO are the easiest to ride slowly, even more so than the hybrid. They also have the advantage that if riding alongside a child on a path you don't have to dodge the bumpy bits – Chris H Jul 13 '18 at 16:01
  • 3
    Another option: the style that is called "dutch bike" in the US and granny bike (or "omafiets" in dutch) in Europe. – ojs Jul 13 '18 at 17:36
  • 1
    also old 3-speeds.. , and traditional designs like Public / Linus / Pashley / Electra – don bright Jul 14 '18 at 1:09
  • @ChrisH What do you mean by MTBSO? – Charlie Harding Jul 15 '18 at 19:17
  • 2
    @CharlieHarding MTB as in mountain bike, combined with BSO as in Bicycle Shaped Object. They're quite handy for short commutes where theft is an issue as they're cheap to replace and not desirable to thieves, and they're tough enough for riding off kerbs and through potholes, but if you tried proper mountain biking on them they'd fall to bits on the first ride, or find some other way to let you down – Chris H Jul 15 '18 at 19:27
10

You could consider a 3-wheeled recumbent bicycle:

Recumbent bicycle Photo courtesy of Willeke

These tend to be more comfortable, and the three wheels mean balance is not an issue, so you can go slowly or stop altogether without any balance issues.

(Note that there are also two-wheeled recumbents, but they would probably not serve your purposes as well.)

  • Only place I'd worry here is that 'bents can be a little difficult when trying to get started on an upward incline. But then, with a low enough gear (if one isn't trying to hurry), maybe that's moot. – Charles Duffy Jul 13 '18 at 19:44
  • 12
    If it's three-wheeled, it's a recumbant tricycle. ;) – Ian MacDonald Jul 13 '18 at 19:55
  • 4
    You can't very well ride along a kid on the sidewalk with that. Or even ride on a sidewalk at all if it isn't very wide. – Nobody Jul 14 '18 at 8:52
  • @IanMacDonald Technically true, but the term "bicycle" is commonly used to refer to any form of pedal transport. I considered using "tricycle", but in my mind it has strong connotations of a toddler's toy, and not a serious transportation device used by adults. – GentlePurpleRain Jul 14 '18 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Nobody No one ever mentioned sidewalks. I made the (perhaps unfounded) assumption that they were riding on roads (residential, low-traffic). – GentlePurpleRain Jul 14 '18 at 15:49
4

You might want to consider a fat-bike. They're naturally slower, because they're meant for really rough terrain, so they have low gearing, high frame mass to be sturdy and higher rolling resistance due to the fat wheels. The fat wheels also make them pretty stable.

Plus, if you're so inclined, after you don't need it for going slow anymore, you can keep on using it to do completely different kind of biking than your existing road bike: rough off-road.

2

Get a "mountain bike" rather than a road bike. It's what I think of as a normal bike anyway, but they don't go as fast. It's easier to keep your balance on them too.

1

A cargo tricycle? Bonus is that you can save gas getting groceries with it.

  • minus: you need extra groceries to power it. Ever checked out the price of twinkies by the kilo? – Henry Crun Jul 16 '18 at 10:14
  • But seriously - cargo bike is an awesome idea. gizmodo.com.au/2012/04/why-you-should-be-on-a-cargo-bike Some of those you could load both kids, and the bikes on them. portalbikes.org The drawback is probably a nightmare to try and load on your car/rack. – Henry Crun Jul 16 '18 at 10:18
  • Well, when I had one, I didn’t have a car. Haven’t for eight years and don’t miss it. The extra groceries cost far less than the gas, insurance, maintenance, registration, etc. And I see a lot more along the way. – WGroleau Jul 16 '18 at 12:16
1

Generally speaking, a bicycle with a longer wheelbase will be more stable when ridden slowly. Those designed for quick maneuvers are generally very short (criterium) wheelbase designs. But the tradeoff is, of course, that the long wheelbase makes those quick direction changes a bit more difficult.

Modern bikes tend to have straight forks and very steep head angles (where the fork attaches to the frame). Both of these shorten the wheelbase and make the bike more "responsive" aka "twitchy." Shallow angles and curved forks go the other way. Stability and comfort.

I hate to recommend anyone get a heavy bike, but there is some effect. The lighter the bicycle, the higher the center of gravity overall (i.e. you).

On the other hand, track riders can ride slowly, even stand in place. They do this with skill and the lack of a freewheel. You can even ride backwards on a track bike. These bikes are also twitchy in the extreme. But it is rider skill. With enough practice you can learn to "stand on the pedals". That is, balance the bike in place, though with a freewheel you need to also use the brakes You've probably seen people doing this when stopped at a light, balanced upright.

  • I also have noticed that bikes seem to have less trail than they used to, be twitchier, and its hard to change your jersey or parka while riding no hands. Also almost no kids ride no hands around here now. (they do however ride mono, a skill I never mastered dammit) – Henry Crun Jul 16 '18 at 10:05
1

I have a foldable bike which is quite comfy at low speeds (especially so probably due to the low CG). With the added advantage that you can transport it easily to kid friendly bike paths.

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