Whether going for a scenic beach trip or a weekend brunch at the local diner, cruiser bikes come really handy and cozy. Unlike mountain bikes, cruisers are less expensive and well-fitted to the city environ. They are not built for rough terrain or speed racing. That is a given. But they specialize in a field that other bike designs do not venture much – comfort.
With its well-aligned upright frame, large seat, sweptback handles, single-speed drivetrain, and balloon tires, cruisers are mainly designed for elegance and ride quality. In the past, the target market is casual cyclists because they are easy to handle and very stable. Most are built with one-speed or three-speed gear system. This also means that they are easier to maintain. They are best for paved roads and moderate distance ride.
In the US, cruiser bikes became really popular during the 1930s until the 1950s. Many enjoyed its noted durability despite the simple mechanics. But during the early 1960s, racer bikes and BMX bikes started to dominate the market. This eventually led to the steep decline of cruiser bike sale. Fortunately, they remained popular for recreational use, especially in parks and beaches. This explains the name “beach cruisers”.
The popularity of cruiser bikes resurfaced for the past decade and continues until today. Due to its wide distribution, they are pretty accessible and cheap. Currently, cruisers are stapled in the long beaches of California.
Basic Features of a Cruiser Bike
Because most cruiser bikes are built with steel frame, they are heavier than they look (some are even heavier than your standard race bike). Mechanically, heavier frames contribute to the stability and grounded-ness of the ride. It is less likely to wobble which grant the rider better control.
Wider “Balloon” Tires
Wider and thicker tires mean heavier pedaling resistance. Well, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It also means lesser chances of puncture and getting a flat tire.
Lastly, it contributes to the overall balance and stability while cruising.
The placing of the handlebar is one of the reasons why cruisers are distinct. Traditionally, they are placed near the saddle for the rider to maintain an upright position. This reduces the pressure on the back and hips of the cyclist. It is true that this position will not give you optimum aerodynamics while driving. Nevertheless, this design works best for short commute or if you’re just looking for a relaxing bike ride.
Most cruisers do not use the traditional rim brake or disc brake. They use the age-old coaster brake. This brake is not attached to the handlebar like the most design. Instead, you need to backpedal (pedaling in the opposite direction) to lose speed. Easy and neat at the same time!
Equipped with a wide posterior saddle that is supported by springs, this choice ensures the maximum comfort of the rider when driving on paved roads and even slightly bumpy roads.
Our Picks on the Best Cruiser Bikes
Listed below are the best cruiser bike that you can buy in the market today:
Firmstrong Urban Lady Beach Cruiser Bicycle
Staying true to the classic curvy built of cruisers, this model offers a strong but elegant frame design. On the looks alone, it is really built to cruise across the beach. It comes in a 17-inch sturdy steel frame and light aluminum wheels. Its wide saddle and dual spring ensure stability and comfort. It also uses coaster brakes – hence, you need to backpedal to activate the brakes.
Currently, it is available in two sizes – 24-inches and 26-inches. Ergonomically, the size and design are best suited for people between 4ft. up to 6 ft. tall In terms of color, Firmstrong released 16 different colors of this model. its preppy color highlight is extremely popular among women. Lastly, this model comes in single-speed, three-speed, and seven-speed version. It uses a Shimano Nexus internal hub for its gear system. This feat gives the rider an opportunity to drive relatively further without much strain. It comes pre-assembled. It can also be customized by adding a front basket or adjusting the height of the handlebar for better alignment.
Firmstrong Chief Man Beach Cruiser Bicycle 26-Inch
Unlike the first item, this model looks manly at the very first sight. The Firmstrong Chief cruiser has a 21.5-inch steel frame with a circular high-arching tube. Its relatively elongated design, together with the placing of the handlebar, is intended to get proper leg extension for efficiency and comfort. Because of its tall shape, this bike is excellent for tall riders. It has 26-inch wheels made of aluminum. Though classic-looking, these wheels are very durable and can survive the great distance.
Though black is the most popular, this model is actually available in six different colors. This model comes in single-speed, three-speed, and seven-speed gear system. It is also equipped with coaster brakes like most cruiser bikes.
Huffy Men’s Deluxe Cruiser Bike 26-Inch Gray
This one is currently regarded as the top model from Huffy. Gray with the shades of light and hazel brown, sleek rear rack, embroidered saddle cover, Crème tires, and its classic cruiser frame – all of these things make this model extra special. All in all, it offers a retro style that is excellent for beach trips or even for everyday commute. Its front basket and rear rack is a great addition for easier grocery transport and other forms of luggage.
This model is only available in size 26”. Its 40mm rims are made of an alloy that can survive bad weather conditions. Tires are extra durable and can go for great mileage. Even though it is relatively light compared to other cruiser bikes, the overall built is still sturdy, stable, and safe.
Ultimately, this model is made by one of the most well-known makers of a cruiser in the world. That’s a great plus.
sixthreezero Women’s 26-Inch Beach Cruiser Bicycle
Available in single-speed, three-speed, and seven-speed Shimano gear systems, this women cruiser bike brims sophistication and tradition at the same time. It is a lightweight cruiser that specializes in comfort and control. It features an upright riding posture and wide handlebar to ease the tension in your shoulder. Considering its height, this bike is best suited for people between 5ft. up to 6 ft. tall. It comes in eleven classical and light colors. All of them are suited for beach and park rides. For first time buyers, this model is actually an excellent pick. It is not expensive and is it very easy to handle and maintain.
Northwoods Pomona 26-Inch Women’s Cruiser Bike
Compared to other items on this list, this one is surely the most modern-looking. Some would even say that this model looks more like sports bicycle. Well, I would say that this ride can be considered a hybrid between a cruiser and sports bike.
Similar to your traditional cruiser, this one also prioritizes comfort and ergonomic riding. However, it also offers new features such as the use of rim brakes and built-in suspensions. It also showcases high-quality gear system. For such reasons, it can withstand long and even rough rides. Considering its overall features, Northwoods Pomona only weight around 45 pounds.
In the 1980s, Huffy released their “Good Vibration” model that peaked the interest of cruiser enthusiasts. After decades of production and development, it is pretty impressive that Huffy Good Vibration Women’s Cruiser is still one of the best cruisers out in the market. Its wide posterior saddle is coupled with soft padding and strong springs (for better suspension). These features ensure rider’s comfort. Its overall geometry also provides better control. These things make the whole ride much more enjoyable.
Schwinn 26-Inch Ladies Perla 7 Speed Cruiser Bike is also an excellent pick. Its design centers more on road safety and stability. It depends on rim brakes and equipped with seven-speed gear system. The frame is made of steel but the rims are made of a special alloy. Like Huffy, Schwinn is also a reliable manufacturer of cruisers in the US.
Cost of a Cruiser
Some people may think twice when buying bicycles given that conventional models are pretty expensive. The price of mountain bikes, for example, will easily exceed $1500 to $3000. Well, this is pretty justifiable if we factor in the features and materials. Mountain bikes, after all, are designed to cover very rough terrain (also the reason why they need special suspensions/shocks and extremely tough frames).
Luckily, cruisers are the people’s bicycle. They are easier to maintain because they don’t have intricate gear system. They are also less expensive. More importantly, they are excellent for sidewalks, beaches, and pedestrians. May it be a close errand or a trip to the beach, cruisers are just excellent utility.
Other Related Articles
In case you are interested in similar topics, you can read our article that talks about how to make a road bike. This article walks you through the intricacies of making a decent road bike. Another article talks about how to make your bike faster. Explore and enjoy!