Cruiser Bike Buying Guide
Let’s face it, when looking for a cruiser bike, it’s much more about the ride itself than the eventual destination. It could even be argued that, on the right cruiser bike, the longer the ride, the better. That’s because a good cruiser bike delivers an abundance of comfort and easy riding fun. Something tells us the designers of beach cruisers know you’re unlikely to be setting off on a 100-miler, although, on a well-designed cruiser, you may very well want to. That said, we won’t focus exclusively on comfort and fun, as we wouldn’t want your bike to fail after a year, so durability definitely lands atop our priority list.
Cruiser bikes, aka beach cruisers, are sought after for relaxed, leisurely rides. Whether you are soaking in a sunset, taking a leisurely ride on a lowrider with the family, or pedaling to the local watering hole, we love cruiser bikes for discovering those simple pleasures buried in your daily grind. Common traits found on most cruiser bikes include upright handlebars, wider saddles, and wider tires. Combined, the components of a well-designed cruiser bike deliver a dreamy and relaxed riding position all the while ensuring pedaling to your destination is easy and nearly effortless. With that, let’s dive in and learn a bit about what makes a great cruiser bike.
If you have been following along, you will realize why we start here. Cruiser bikes are so much about the ride and that means to make sure the bike includes things like:
- A wide cushy sprung saddle for ensuring your bottom never tires before your legs do
- Wide tires for rolling over anything the road puts in front of you
- Comfortable and grippy pedals – we recommend a grippy rubber inlay to ensure you’re feet aren’t slipping off the pedals regardless of what you’re wearing on your feet (or even barefoot!)
Now that we’ve covered comfort, let’s talk easy riding. For us, there are two things to focus on here-- riding posture and gearing. When riding a cruiser bike, it’s as much about seeing as it is about being seen. Racers can have their aggressive posture, but for cruiser bikes, upright riding posture reigns supreme. This is most often accomplished with sweptback handlebars that help position your back perpendicular to the ground as opposed to leaning forward. From there, it’s onto gearing. While single speed cruisers take the cake for simplicity, we’ll choose a 7-speed any day of the week to ensure we aren’t disrupting our ride with too much exertion. An ample gearing range allows you to effortlessly climb that ramp up to the boardwalk and then get up to speed to ensure you’re still first in line for the warm cinnamon buns at your favorite bakery.
Safely Riding Cruiser Bikes
While many cruiser bikes come with a coaster brake (pedal brake), we have reservations as this creates a single point of failure should your chain become compromised. Instead, we favor rim brakes which are lightweight and provide ample front and rear stopping power.
And if your rides take place after dark, and we say they should, don’t forget lights for being seen. Not to be forgotten is a bell to make sure you can be heard. Be sure to find one that will sound as sweet as it looks.
Make it your Own
Now for the fun part. One of the best parts of a new cruiser bike is making it your own, AKA accessorizing! Bells, bike lights, streamers, don’t hold back here. Another common trait you’ll see with cruiser bikes is their ability to be customized and upgraded. This can include accessories like fenders, lights, saddle bags, luggage racks, wicker or metal baskets, and more.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s ensure your new cruiser bike lasts. Given that many cruiser bikes are ridden in beach towns, we heavily favor aluminum for its durability against the elements. Aluminum cruisers also have the added benefit of being lighter than steel frames. In addition to the frame, ensure your other components such as cranksets, handlebars, seat posts, spokes and rims are all aluminum. While this saves weight, it will also prevent your bike from becoming a rusty eyesore halfway through your first season with it. The same can be said with the chain, be sure it has some sort of heavy-duty rust-prohibitive treatment. Our flagship cruiser bike, the Brighton 7, leverages a rust-buster coating which delivers many years of rust-free riding.
One last, but arguably most important thing - as with all bikes, we are huge advocates of having your bike professionally assembled. This gives you three distinct advantages:
- Properly adjusted bikes are safer (consider the importance of well-functioning brakes)
- Professionally assembled & dialed-in bikes have longer lifespans (consider the importance of proper lubrication and well-adjusted gearing)
- You’ll have a relationship with a local bike shop to quickly and easily get you back riding, should something go wrong
Thanks for following along, now get out and ride.