Bicycling with bad balance, could a fatbike be better?

I’m an extremely poor bicyclist, owing to deficient coordination and balance. I swore off of it several years ago, after an ugly crash that my cyclist friends were baffled I had even managed to accomplish. Thing is, there is nothing to do outside in Dallas except cycling or running, and I hate running.

Recently, my wife suggested that a fatbike might be easier to handle than a typical mountain or road bike. According to the internet, fatbikes have 4 or 5 inch wide tires that are very low pressure. They were originally a niche product used on snow or sand, but have become a trend (or a fad) and are increasingly employed on all kinds of surfaces. The prices are starting to come down as big manufacturers begin to market them.

Supposedly, they are more stable at low speeds and have more traction. Conversely, the higher rolling resistance and greater weight mean they are slower. I don’t care about going fast, I just want to go without falling down so much.

Does anybody have any experience with these contraptions?

I don’t, but I was going to suggest looking at either a recumbent bike or a trike. The adult size tricycles are becoming more and more popular, and they have the plus of a cargo basket behind the seat. I imagine it would be much more difficult to tip over a tricycle. Not impossible, but more difficult.

phouka’s got it right.
Be aware, you can tip a trike by cornering too fast. My handcycle will raise a wheel at 12 mph(right), 15 mph(left).

As long as the cycle has two wheels, it can fall over. Lower air pressure makes it worse as the tires can squirm.
Higher speeds actually make a bike more stable due to the gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels.

There are adult “training wheels” available that add stability to a standard bike

To clarify, I was talking about the recumbent trike. The adult trikes are much taller(and really slow) and would tip over more easily.

ETA: my handcycle is a delta( one front,two rear wheels) I don’t know if a tadpole (2 front, 1 rear) is more resistant to tipping in a turn.

I have very little pride, but I draw the line at training wheels or an adult size upright trike.

I actually owned a Catrike, which is a recumbent tadpole design (2 front, 1 rear wheel). It was crazy awesome fast, but ultimately impractical for me. There is extremely little ground clearance, making it usable only on roads or paved trails. Even grass covered ground is a gamble: a misplaced hummock or hidden rock could result in a busted tailbone. Roads were out of the question, as I live in the city and the trike was completely invisible to motorists, even with a giant flag and lights.

As is typical for trikes, there is no rear brake, so hard stops were exciting in a bad way. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except the paved trails around here tend to be narrow and congested with dogs, kids, and folks out for a stroll. The extra width and inability to safely roll off into the grass made for lots of stopping and starting.

I loved the thing and if I lived somewhere with wide-open and smooth trails, I’d use it all the time. But for now, I want something that can be ridden from the house to the trail and back.

It’s next to impossible to fall off of one of these.

I ride a Catrike (tadpole) and I cannot imagine it can be tipped over with less than a car ramming into it. I routinely go 20 mph+ and take very tight turns without braking, a wheel has never left the ground. Bear in mind my clearance from the ground is less than 10".

PS I love my ride.

Yup, I used to own one. Unfortunately, it was not a good match for the conditions I used it in.

Tipping sideways would take planning and a lot of work, but braking hard while going straight and fast can lift the rear wheel enough to shift the rider forward and out of contact with the machine, with painful results. I know from experience.

I really don’t think a fatbike is going to help. Fat round tyres provide no significant amount more resistance to tipping than skinny tyres. Quite simply, bikes are designed to lean and won’t be rideable unless they can lean freely. There is no design of bike that will avoid this issue. You have to balance them.

Go to a shop and test ride a fat bike.

This seems like the best answer to me. Bike shops around here are happy to let you go pedal around a bike quite awhile if you’re considering a purchase.

FWIW, I have a different style of recumbent trike than you (a TerraTrike) and it wasn’t fast at all, but it handled different styles of trails just fine. Dirt and crushed limestone trails were just fine (presuming dry conditions and good upkeep), though central Iowa is lousy with wide paved trails so I didn’t worry too much anyway.

Fat bikes go slower and have softer, fatter, more rounded tyres. To me that sounds a heck of a lot LESS stable than a normal bike.

Try origin 8 or Sun brand Spider AT; origin 8 would probably be a little better as far as versatility, but both of these are a pretty good deal, you could probably order one from any dealer. If you go with Surly, Salsa, or Specilaized, you are probably paying more for features that will not be of interest to you unless you start doing a type of riding that is different from your stated intentions. My opinion is that a more ideal bike would be one with foot-forward technology. The major brand in this category is Electra, but Sun also has some good examples. This is a bike that was designed specifically for a rider with your needs. It places the pedals further forward in relation to the seat to allow one to sit lower on the bike. This has a couple benefits, first, it allows you to have your feet closer to the ground and still maintain proper leg extension(basically, when you stop you can put both feet flat on the ground as opposed to just the balls of your feet or your tippy toes), second, the lower center of gravity makes balancing easier. In addition to this the longer wheelbase aids in stability.

Touring bikes tend to have longer wheelbase and a lower bottom bracket, which helps stability. Doubt it would make enough difference but I’d though I mention it.

Brian

It should be easier to balance with more speed, not less.

Which is why I suggest getting a motorcycle!

As part of my full blown bicycle addiction, I’m the owber of a fatbike. It’s nigh on identical for balance as any of my other bikes, possibly a little more demanding. The idea is the higher volume, lower pressure tires give you more traction and natural suspension over rough terrain, whilst also giving more float on softer stuff like sand, wet mud or snow. The extra weight and rolling resistance means you’re usually a bit slower on a fat bike, which means you need to do more balancing yourself.

However, this might be of interest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0OJYopJ7MU

The first thing I would do is test ride a bike like an Electra. Low center of gravity gives more stability. The fact that you can always put a foot down will make you feel more confident. If that is not enough go for a trike.

So do I… that’s why you brake with your rear brakes first, and the majority of the time.

I’d say to go to Richardson Bike Mart and see if they have a fat bike. They’re really cool about the test-rides, or at least they used to be. The one on Campbell in Richardson actually had a little test course in back you could ride mountain bikes on.