Cruiser bicycles: Fun, Comfort and Style around Town or on The Sand
From surfers and students to seniors, commuters and vacationing families, cruiser bikes are used by a wide variety of people for recreation, casual riding and transportation.
When purchasing a cruiser bicycle, it is important to consider what you’ll be using the bike for so that you can decide on factors such as sizing, speed, options and popular brands.
What is a cruiser bicycle?
Also known as a beach cruiser, a cruiser bicycle is the fashionable member of the bicycle family. Cruiser bikes are characterized by large tires, long upright handlebars, clean lines and a colorful vintage design. Cruisers have a coaster style brake that you push backwards to come to a stop.
Cruiser bikes were first popular in the 1930s and into the 1950s. They regained popularity in the 1990s and are still popular today. The large tires and seat make cruiser bicycles stable, comfortable and easy to ride. They are not meant for speed or rough terrain, but they are great for recreational and casual riding on paved roads, the boardwalk or even on packed sand.
Who should own a cruiser bike?
Cruiser bikes are ridden and enjoyed by a variety of age groups. Baby boomers like them for their comfort, stability and retro design. Travelers can use them at vacation destinations and resort communities to ride on paved roads, boardwalks and even hard packed sand. They are also a great choice for college students commuting from dorms to campus.
Materials used in making cruiser bikes
Cruiser bike frames are usually made out of steel or aluminum. Aluminum frames are lightweight and more resistant to rust. Steel frames are less expensive but still provide durability. Cruiser bike parts are made from materials such as alloys, rubber and cast plastic, which makes them more resistant to rust and deterioration.
Cruiser bikes vs. other types of bikes
Cruiser bikes stand apart from other types of bikes in their vintage styling and straightforward design. They do share some characteristics with other types, but the difference usually comes in what the rider wants to do with the bike.
Road bikes are meant for fast riding, road racing and smooth pavement. They are lightweight with skinny tires and dropped handlebars for extreme leaning forward. They are not handy for carrying heavy loads.
Touring bicycles are similar to road bikes, but they are made for long distance riding. They have dropped handlebars and a relaxed frame design for comfort. Their lower gear range allows them to carry heavier loads than road bikes. Cargo racks can be mounted on them.
Mountain bikes are used for off-road trails and rugged terrain. They have flat or upright handlebars and a low gear range for going up steep hills. The biggest difference is that they have shock absorbers. Some have only front shocks, but some have front and back shocks. Mountain bikes can also be used for touring or commuting but are not as light as a touring bike.
Hybrid bikes combine elements of mountain and road bikes. They have large padded seats and upright handlebars for comfort. Most hybrids have front suspension. They are used for riding on paved roads and can also handle off-road trails and bike paths. Hybrid bike tires are a medium width with tread that is semi-smooth, which provides a good ride on pavement as well as grip on unpaved trails.
Cruiser bike sizing
Cruiser bikes come in a variety of sizes. A general rule of thumb is to go by the wheel diameter to determine the correct size bike. A bike with a 20-inch wheel diameter would work for kids who are age four to 10. Adults do fine with a 26-inch wheel. Bike frames range from 8-inch to 21-inch, and extended frames are available for riders who are more than six feet tall.
Cruiser bike speeds
Cruiser bikes are usually a single speed, but models can have up to seven speeds. A single speed cruiser is best used for casual riding on flat roads or hard-packed trails. Three speeds give the rider better traction for climbing hills and comfort for longer distances. A cruiser with seven speeds allows for more intense riding and even longer distances.
Cruiser bike accessories
The fashionable colors and retro looks beckon owners to dress up their cruiser bikes with accessories and decorative gear. Riders can bedeck their cruiser with everything from sparkling handlebar streamers to vintage baskets and snazzy seat covers.
- Cargo carriers
- Decorative seats
- Handlebar grips
- Handlebar streamers
Best cruiser bike brands
While many bicycle manufacturing companies produce cruiser bikes, there are a few well-known brands that top the list. Whether you’re looking for a specific color, size or style, you’re sure to find plenty of options in cruiser bikes.
- The Schwinn ladies Perla has a steel frame, seven speeds, an adjustable padded seat and full fenders on the front and back. Alloy V brakes ensure quick stopping.
- The Schwinn Sanctuary comes in designs for men and women. Features include full fenders, a rear cargo rack, lightweight alloy rims, a padded seat with springs and seven speeds.
- The Schwinn Swindler is a comfortable riding men’s bike. It has a springer front fork for a stylish look. Fenders provide comfortable riding in any weather condition.
- The classic Sixthreezero beach cruiser bicycle features upswept handlebars, rubber block pedals and a simplistic design. Stitching on the seat is complementary to the color of the bike, and it has matching grips.
- Sixthreezero EVRYjourney combines a beach cruiser with a touring bike for recreational and long distance riding. It features a step-through aluminum frame, chrome fenders, seven speeds, rear and front handbrakes. The plush seat keeps you comfortable on city streets, trails and up hills.
- The Sixthreezero In the Barrel has an 18-inch extended steel frame, front and rear hand brakes and seven speeds for riding versatility. It also features balloon tires and a comfortable seat with dual springs.
- With the classic good looks of an old fashioned beach cruiser, the Sixthreezero BE is a men’s model with alloy rims and white wall tires. It is a 26-inch single speed with rubber block pedals and coaster brakes.
- Sixthreezero’s Around the Block model does what its name says. It can take you around the block, to the beach or around campus in comfort and style. Available in both men’s and women’s styles, it features wide handlebars with foam grips, a back cargo rack and soft waffle tread tires.
- The Firmstrong Urban beach cruiser include 20-inch girl’s bike and 26-inch boy’s bike with a coaster brake, oversized seat and front and rear fenders. The 13-inch frame is perfect for young riders. It has a single speed and an adjustable seat and handlebars as well as optional training wheels. It is available in colors like mint green, pink and baby blue.
- Firmstrong’s Bella women’s cruiser bike comes in a wide array of colors to complement its classic design. It has three speeds, front and rear fenders and wide balloon tires for a smooth ride around town or at the beach.
- The Firmstrong Bruiser men’s bike is an easy riding single speed with a 19-inch extended frame. The oversized seat with dual springs provides a comfortable ride. It comes in several sporty color combinations such as matte black with red rims, matte black with green rims and bright yellow.
- Firmstrong’s Chief cruiser comes in a version for men and women. Both are available as single-speed, three-speed or seven-speed. They both have 26-inch wheels and front and rear fenders.
- Firmstrong’s Urban Stretch is a low-riding cruiser with an extended frame. The seat is five inches lower to the ground than a traditional bike. The seat and handlebars are adjustable. Other features include wide handlebars, coaster brakes and a chain guard.