What Is a Cruiser Bike?

When it comes to choosing a bicycle that suits your riding style, it can become a bit overwhelming. With all the different types of bikes out there and the different purposes for each one, how exactly do you choose?

By this point, maybe you have figured out that you aren’t someone who is willing to take to the slopes of a mountain or to speed along the road, close to cars. Maybe you’re just a calm individual looking for a leisurely afternoon ride. And that is exactly why you are here now, reading this intro to an article that will describe a kind of bike that sounds like it is exactly what you are looking for – a cruiser bike.


Defining Cruiser Bikes

The name “cruiser bike” pretty much provides a definition in itself. They are essentially built for cruising at relatively low speeds, with features that make the bikes easy and comfortable to ride. When you look at it like this, you can see exactly why people started using them more often along promenades at the beach, thus giving them the additional name – beach cruisers.

sixthreezero Serenity Women's 26 inch Single Speed Beach Cruiser Bicycle

 Cruisers are often customizable, allowing you to add features such as luggage racks, front and rear fenders, baskets, bike lights, bottle cages, etc. But there are a few slightly more specific features that make these bikes what they are today. These include oversized saddles, balloon tires, coaster brakes, curved handlebars and more. We’ll get into that more below.


Key Features of a Cruiser

Frame

The frame of a cruiser bike is often a little bit larger than that of other bikes. The material is usually steel but there are more modern equivalents coming out with aluminum frames for a lighter, easier ride. The overall weight of cruisers varies, mainly depending on the frame, but they are usually around 40-50 pounds. As we mentioned, there are lighter ones coming out thanks to aluminum.

white cruiser bike near the beach

There are two main frame types that you can find, with minor changes to each one. The more common type is a regular frame which is similar to that of other bikes.

These usually feature a bend of some sort which simply adds to the classic beach cruiser look, but there are straight options as well if that is your style. The other frame type is a step-through frame. These frames add to the “relaxed” theme of cruisers as they make getting on and off the bike a much easier process, with a lower entry point than that of regular frames.

Saddle

Cruiser seating is known to be comfortable. The saddles are usually cushioned well, oversized (to add more area to sit on), and shaped nicely to make for a more comfortable ride. They also often come with a dual-spring system which adds even more comfort while riding. These allow the seat to move slightly and act kind of like shock absorbers.

Tires

The tires of a cruiser bike also have a big part to play in terms of riding comfort. Balloon tires are the most common form found on the bikes, as these can roll over debris more easily, without getting punctures (that’s not to say that they are unable to get punctures, it’s just harder for this to happen with this type of tire).

cruiser bike chain and tire

Balloon tires are a little wider than regular tires found on other types of bikes. This adds stability and makes riding much smoother and easier, especially when riding over sand that may have blown up onto the promenade. If you see a cruiser bike, it is more than likely going to have these tires.

We should also note that the balloon tires don’t give you free rein to go all-out and try to ramp something. Cruiser bikes aren’t built for that and you will probably end up hurting yourself or damaging the bike in some way.

Handlebars and Gears

There really isn’t too much to say about the handlebars of cruiser bikes. They are generally quite tall and bend towards the rider in order to create a more comfortable steering position, without causing the rider to bend forward, maintaining the upright riding style of the bike.

two cruisers on the beach

A lot of beach cruisers come with single-speed gearing, meaning there is no gearing up or down. This allows for fewer cables and gives the bikes a cleaner look (because let’s face it, looks are a big part of what makes these bikes so great).

There are, however, options to get beach cruisers with up to 21-speed gearing. As great as this sounds, these bikes are mainly built for cruising, so you more than likely won’t really need more than a 3-speed, but if you just need to go fast while having the option of cruising as well, then we say go for it.

Brakes

Most beach cruisers have coaster brakes (which are breaks that are activated by pedaling backward). In most cases, you won’t need more than this, as you will be riding quite slowly. If you are someone who does want a little more speed and extra gears, these additional options also often come with the front and/or rear brakes to allow for more powerful stops.

When you do see the additional brakes on a cruiser, it is mostly the front brake, combined with a rear coaster brake. These are also often on 3-speed cruisers since they don’t get too fast but might still need that little extra bit of stopping power.

Riding Style

The riding style of cruisers is an upright style. This ensures a more comfortable riding position than that of other bikes as there is not as much pressure on your back and shoulders from leaning forward the whole time. Due to this aspect of cruisers, you may find that you are able to go on much longer rides.

orange cruiser bike parked near the beach

Cruiser bikes are a great way to get into riding, as they allow for a relaxed, slow approach to the sport. Even if you aren’t looking to branch out into other types of cycling, a simple ride along the beach to clear your mind and destress on your cruiser might be just what you need to end off your daily or weekly routine.

So, if you are looking for something comfortable and relaxing to ride, want to have a stylish new bike for everyone at the beach to see, or just want to get out of the house to breathe fresh air and feel the wind run through your hair; a cruiser bike is probably the bike you have been searching for.

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What Is a Cruiser Bike? Our Ultimate Guide — Bike Hacks