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Cruiser Bikes – Explained – Bringing Back a Classic
Cruiser Bikes is designed for cruising. It’s not as rough and tough as a mountain bike or as versatile as a hybrid, but it does offer the relaxing cycling experience that the recreational cyclist will love. But are cruiser bikes easy to ride? These bikes aren’t the same as the traditional beach cruisers that became popular in the 50s. Some styles of cruisers have undergone a total transformation while still retaining that classic vintage look that made them famous. Other models are the same as the original cruisers, with a few essential updates designed to make them user-friendly. But how do these bikes perform on different terrain types, and are they a good option for touring and commuting?
Are our cruiser bikes easy to ride? Yes and no. This can depend on the cruiser bike you buy and where you ride. The classic cruiser bikes can easily handle flat terrain and offer a relaxed, comfortable ride. However, considering they don’t come equipped with gears and have a heavy steel frame, riding them up a steep hill can be challenging. But if you decide to go with a cruiser bike with gears, then riding uphill, while still challenging, is much easier than the single-speed style cruisers. Both styles of cruiser bikes are best suited for smooth flat terrain.
The beach cruiser has undergone some significant changes over the years, but these upgrades have helped keep the cruiser relevant and one of the most popular styles of bikes on the market.
A Blast from the Past
The beach cruiser has recently risen in popularity in the cycling community, making them a perfect option for recreational cyclists. These bikes may not be able to compete with road bikes or the best hybrid bike, but they do shine in terms of simplicity, comfort, and pricing. The cruiser bike features a large, somewhat bulky and heavy frame, curved handlebars and wide balloon tires. The style of the motorcycle itself speaks to comfort. The relaxed geometry of the handlebars combined with the more giant than average bike saddle can allow you to take a more relaxed posture as you ride around town.
In terms of style upgrades, newer models of cruisers have undergone some critical redesigns and promotions that are meant to make them easier to ride based on terrain type and weather conditions. These bikes are also highly upgradeable, allowing cyclists to add saddlebags, baskets, racks, fenders, and other accessories. The weight of the bulky steel frame of the cruiser makes them a terrible choice for touring, at least for the beginner. Often, beginners choose these bikes for short jaunts around town or as a bike they can depend on for shorter commutes or running errands. They’re not designed for racing, off-roading, or touring.
The overall style of the cruiser bike screams comfort, but they do have their limitations. They’re not suited for much more than casual riding, but the cruiser is more accessible to ride than ever before with a few upgrades.
The Biggest Cruiser Bikes Drawback
The lack of an extensive gear system will be the biggest drawback, while for others, it’s the frame’s weight. A bike’s frame weight can hinder or improve performance.
The cruiser bike is notoriously heavy, making it difficult to ride this type of bike uphill. But while a lighter frame can make it much easier to ride a bike uphill or pedal faster, it can also be a massive downfall if you’re riding in inclement weather or windy conditions. Bikes with a lightweight frame are also more expensive, and the frames themselves aren’t exactly durable. In terms of durability, the cruiser bike is equivalent to the durability of a classic car compared to a modern one.
The cruiser knows how to handle a fall. So, if you’re buying a new bike mainly for recreational purposes, such as rides around the neighbourhood, then the cruiser is the best choice here despite a heavier steel frame.
Different Cruiser Bikes Styles
Most cyclists can appreciate the durable, straightforward design of the cruiser. Many people buy beach cruisers just for that classic look, so these days, you’ll find a few style variations on the classic beach cruiser design. These styles have no purpose but to exaggerate the classic cruiser frame style.
The cruiser’s upgrades have caused these bikes to split into several subcategories. Each of these styles has something unique to offer, whether you prefer the classic beach cruiser design or need a cruiser that can handle riding uphill.
The Vintage Beach Cruiser
To this day, there are still bike manufacturers that produce the classic beach cruiser, complete with balloon tires, high curved handlebars, and the overstuffed saddle. These bikes feature a heavy forty to a sixty-pound steel frame, making long-distance rides very challenging for beginners. However, this cruiser style is perfect for short rides around town.
With classic beach cruisers, tires come in at around twenty-nine inches. The width of the tires is designed to improve stability while providing more than enough cushion to absorb any moderately rough terrain you encounter on your ride. The handlebars of the cruiser wrap around each side of the cyclist, a design that helps to prevent the cyclist from having to take a more aggressive stance when they’re steering. The drivetrain on the classic cruiser is also very simple, with a chain guard that protects the top portion of the chain. The chain is what powers the single-speed drivetrain.
Some classic cruisers will come with front and rear fenders, while others will not.
The Stretch and Lowrider Cruiser Bikes
You’ll find a few variations to the bike’s frame style with every type of bike. With the cruiser, it’s no different. But these unique frame designs are more about fashion than functionality. They’re not meant to improve your cycling performance, shape or form, and they can make it pretty limiting where you can ride.
The stretch cruiser is one of the most popular variations of the classic beach cruiser. It features a longer frame and sits much closer to the ground. The goal here is to provide a more comfortable ride for the cyclist. However, these cruisers are pretty limited regarding where you can ride them. Smooth, flat terrain will be the best option.
Like the stretch cruiser, the lowrider cruisers sit lower to the ground, and they can’t handle even mildly rough terrain. Instead, these bikes better suit flat. Smooth terrain, like the stretch cruiser.
Multi-speed cruisers are precisely what they sound like. If you want a beach cruiser that has an upgrade, you’ll value, then this is it.
This is where the cruiser manufacturers stepped their game up, offering a more versatile beach cruiser style, allowing the cyclist to easily ride up a hill instead of walking the fifty-pound bike up it. These bikes don’t have very many speeds compared to hybrids or road bikes. Typically, they come with three to six-speed options. However, the addition of shifters makes these bikes more touring friendly, allowing riders to go where classic beach cruisers cannot.
This type of cruiser is a good choice if you’re looking for a bike for casual riding around town. While the cruiser isn’t as versatile as the hybrid or as fast as the road bike, its stable frame combined with the bike’s simple design is the significant reason many cyclists still prefer them over other styles. These bikes are easier to tune, work on, upgrade, and repair than most modern bikes on the market today.
How to Make Your Cruiser Easier to Ride
You can do a few things if you want to make your cruiser faster and easier to ride. This can include lubricating the bike chain. Adjusting the saddle and tire pressure and aligning the brakes. Keeping tabs on the bike chain and staying lubricated promotes a smoother pedalling experience. Allowing you to build up speed quickly.
Adjusting the bike’s saddle to improve your cycling performance may sound like a no-brainer. But it’s often the last thing a beginner thinks of. Repositioning the saddle to a more comfortable height can allow full leg extension when pedal and equal a smoother pedalling experience. Adjusting the tire pressure to thirty to forty PSI on the cruiser will increase the bike’s speed since low tire pressure increases rolling resistance.
The brakes on cruisers are easy to adjust. But if align. It can affect how fast and efficiently you can pedal. Unaligned brakes can rub up against the bike’s tires if you have a multi-speed cruiser. These minor adjustments can have a significant impact on your riding experience, how fast your cruiser can go. And how much fun you have along the way. If you’re not sure how to adjust the bike’s brakes, take your cruiser to a local bike shop and pay to have a pro show you how.
The beach cruiser was designed for recreational use. However, it can handle shorter commutes just fine, especially if you have a multi-speed cruiser. We wouldn’t recommend the cruiser for a longer commute because the bike’s heavier frame can make it difficult for beginners. Even tired cyclists cover much ground.
The term touring refers to a long bike ride. Bikes designed for touring should be durable. Have a moderate frame weight, and come equipped with plenty of gears and tires gripping extreme power. These days, many cyclists recommend hybrid bikes for commuting and touring. These bikes are more versatile than cruisers and road bikes and can reasonably handle slick surfaces, pavement, and gravel.