The cruiser bike 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 type of relaxing cycling experience that the recreational cyclist will love. But are cruiser bikes easy to ride? These bikes aren’t exactly 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 basically the same as the original cruisers, with a few important updates that are designed to make them more user-friendly. But how do these bikes perform on different terrain types and are they a good option for touring and commuting?
Are cruiser bikes easy to ride? Yes and no. This can depend on the style of 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 compared to the single speed style cruisers. Both styles of cruiser bikes are best suited for smooth flat terrain.
The beach cruiser has undergone some major changes over the years, but these upgrades have helped to keep the cruiser relevant and one of the most popular styles of bikes on the market.
Read on to learn more about where the cruiser can go and what makes it the perfect bike for recreational rides around town.
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 bike itself speaks comfort. The relaxed geometry of the handlebars combined with the larger 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 important redesigns and upgrades 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 bad 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 with a few upgrades, the cruiser is easier to ride than ever before.
The Biggest Cruiser Drawback
For some, the lack of an extensive gear system will be the biggest drawback, while for others, it’s the weight of the frame. 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 huge 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.
Basically, 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 neighborhood, then despite a heavier steel frame, the cruiser is clearly the best choice here.
Different Cruiser Styles
Most cyclists can appreciate the durable, simple design of the cruiser. In fact, many people buy beach cruisers just for that classic look, which is why these days you’ll find a few style variations on the classic beach cruiser design. These styles really have no purpose other than 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 some special to offer, whether you prefer the classic beach cruiser design or you 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 the balloon tires, high curved handlebars, and the overstuffed saddle. These bikes feature a heavy forty to sixty-pound steel frame, which can make long distance rides very challenging for beginners. However, this style of cruiser 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 which 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
With every type of bike, you’ll find a few variations to the bike’s frame style. With the cruiser, it’s no different. But these unique frame designs are really more about style than functionality. They’re not meant to improve your cycling performance in any way shape or form, and they can, in fact, make it pretty limiting in terms of where you can ride.
The stretch cruiser is one of the most popular variations to 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 in terms of where you can ride them. Obviously, 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 are better suited to flat, smooth terrain, just like the stretch cruiser.
Multi-speed cruisers are exactly what they sound like. If you want a beach cruiser that has an upgrade you’ll really value, then this is it.
This is where the cruiser manufacturers really stepped their game up, offering a more versatile style of beach cruiser, one that will allow the cyclist to easily ride up a hill as opposed to walking the fifty-pound bike up it. These bikes don’t come with 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 are the major reasons 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
If you want to make your cruiser faster, and easier to ride, there are a few things you can do. This can include lubricating the bike chain, adjusting the saddle and tire pressure, and aligning the brakes.
If you keep tabs on the bike chain and ensure it stays lubricated it promotes a smoother pedaling 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 for full leg extension when you pedal and can also equal a smoother pedaling experience.
adjusting the tire pressure to thirty to forty PSI on the cruiser will increase the bike’s speed since low tire pressure tends to increase rolling resistance.
The brakes on cruisers are easy to adjust. But if they’re not properly aligned it can affect how fast and efficiently you’re able to pedal. If you have a multi-speed cruiser, unaligned brakes can rub up against the bike’s tires. 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.
All of these small adjustments can have a major impact on your riding experience, how fast your cruiser can go, and how much fun you have along the way.
Are Beach Cruisers Good for Commuting?
The beach cruiser is mainly 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, simply because the bike’s heavier frame can make it difficult for beginners or even the tired cyclists, to cover a lot of ground.
What is a Good Bike for Touring?
The term touring refers to a long bike ride. Bikes that are designed for touring should be durable, feature a moderate frame weight, and come equipped with plenty of gears and tires with serious gripping power. These days, many cyclists recommend hybrid bikes for commuting and touring. These bikes are more versatile compared to cruisers and road bikes and can handle slick surfaces, pavement, and gravel, fairly well. To learn more about hybrid bikes and how they handle on the road, click here to read our article on are hybrid bikes good for long distance?
Are Beach Cruisers Beginner-Friendly?
Yes. These sturdy, tough bikes offer a more comfortable, smoother ride. They’re not only easier to ride compared to mountain bikes and road bikes, but they’re also very simple to tune and adjust, and don’t get damaged easily like an aluminum frame or carbon steel bike can. To learn more about beach cruisers, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
How Fast can a Cruiser Bike Go?
This can depend on terrain type and the cyclist’s weight. Overall, the cruiser bike can go between three to fifteen miles per hour. The bike’s heavier frame can make it difficult for beginners who don’t have the type of leg power needed to pedal these bikes uphill, but on flat terrain, with minimal wind, these bikes can really fly.
Are cruiser bikes easy to ride? They can be. If you’re interested in a cruiser, then you probably aren’t looking for a bike you can use to commute to and from work or a bike you can use for off-roading. In terms of comfort, the cruiser bike is hard to beat. A cruiser bike is meant for recreational purposes only. The large frame, curved handlebars, and large saddle all make this bike a great choice for the beginner in need of a bike they can take around town on the weekends. Some styles of cruiser bikes are definitely easier to ride than others. However, in general, if you stick to flat terrain and short rides around town, then the classic beach cruiser and the multi-speed models can offer the type of relaxing, nostalgic cycling experience that some riders are looking for.