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Despite the name, a beach cruiser bike is not specifically built for riding on the beach. They are built for stability, durability, and comfort on any terrain. Cruiser bicycles feature wider tires and tend to weigh more than a standard bicycle.
If you’re like me and enjoy leisurely bike rides around the neighborhood, you may want to learn more about these cruiser bikes. While they are not as versatile as a mountain bike or as light as a road bike, they have several unique features that make them perfect for getting around town.
Basic History of the Beach Cruiser
Not long ago, someone asked me if I ever owned a beach cruiser. I responded with my own question, what are beach cruiser bikes? It turns out that these were the most popular bikes in the US for several decades and most kids that grew up in the 1940s or 1950s probably owned one.
Schwinn, the popular bicycle manufacturer, developed the first cruiser due to declining bike sales. They wanted to make a bicycle that appealed to the younger market.
The first cruisers were made with a durable frame, balloon tires, battery-powered headlights, and a faux gas tank. These early bikes are easily recognizable, thanks to the faux gas tank.
The cruiser remained the most popular bike until lighter, more agile bikes from Europe were introduced into the U.S. market. The cruisers became a nostalgic piece of the past. However, in recent years, renewed interest has led to a resurgence of the beach cruiser bicycle.
People are falling in love with these bicycles all over again, thanks to their comfort and affordability.
Differences Between a Cruiser and Other Bikes
There are many types of bicycles intended for different types of cycling. The most common bicycles include the standard road bike and the mountain bike. Road bikes, which are also called street bikes, are designed for speed. Mountain bikes are built for stability on rough terrain.
Road bikes tend to place the rider in a forward-leaning position, allowing the cyclist to improve aerodynamics and deliver more power to the pedals. These bikes are also lightweight and feature thinner tires.
Mountain bikes are designed for use on many different terrains, which requires wider tires, a durable frame, and a suspension system.
The cruiser is closest in design to the mountain bike. In fact, the beach cruiser was the early inspiration for the first mountain bikes. Both bikes have wider tires than a standard bike, along with a heavy, durable frame.
Mountain bike tires are often 1.5 to 2 inches, while road bike tires are typically just under 1 inch wide. The average cruiser tire is about 2 to 2.5 inches wide. These balloon tires also use less air pressure, which helps absorb bumps in the road.
The next difference is the seat. While road bikes force you to lean forward, cruisers allow you to sit upright. The upright position tends to be easier on my back. When combined with better shock absorption, the cruiser becomes the perfect option for those with back problems.
Beach cruisers also have a different frame than most other bikes. Similar to a mountain bike, the frame is durable. However, cruisers are typically heavier than a mountain bike.
The durable frame is built to withstand wear and tear and damage from minor impacts. It can also handle a lot of weight. You can load up your school bags, groceries, or even a surfboard on a rack without worrying about weighing down the bicycle.
Conclusion: What Are Beach Cruiser Bikes Used for?
Why should you consider buying a beach cruiser? These bicycles offer several distinct features that help make it the most comfortable option for leisurely bike rides. They have heavy and sturdy frames, wide tires, and an upright seating position.
As mentioned, I prefer these bikes for traveling around my neighborhood. The wide tires with less air pressure provide more shock absorption, which is great when pedaling over a pothole or riding over a curb.
While you may not be able to ride as fast in a cruiser, you get more stability and comfort compared to riding a standard street bike. If you don’t ride a bike frequently or need to carry groceries or books, a beach cruiser may be the perfect option.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.