Cruiser bikes are the embodiment of bicycling boiled down to its simplest and most enjoyable form. Also called beach cruisers because of their popularity in flat, sandy shore areas where their features shine. The configuration of a cruiser bike has you sit straight up instead of hunched over, because the wide seat is located behind the pedals, and the handlebars extend back so there’s no need to lean over. Cruiser bikes also have a coaster brake—you stop by pedaling backwards. Fewer parts mean fewer adjustments, fewer repairs, and less maintenance.
You may not need a cruiser bike so you can carry a surfboard in one hand as you pedal your way to the beach (but we can dream, can’t we?). Maybe you want one to pedal to a local job or a nearby store. Or you want one so you can go on a bike ride with your kids. Or you simply want a reliable bike to ride around and get some fresh air and exercise once in a while. No matter the reason, here’s a simple guide to cruisers and how to find the best cruiser bike for you.
This model comes with a rear rack to make transporting items easy. Courtesy Huffy
If all you want is a basic all-around cruiser, choose one that has quality tires and easily adjustable seat and handlebars, so you can configure it exactly to your liking. Make sure the seat has good springs to keep you comfortable.
This model has a low, curved crossbar so it’s easy to mount. Courtesy sixthreezero
Women have different body proportions than men. Duh. But there’s more to it than curves. Women tend to have shorter arms and torsos than men, which equates to a smaller bicycle frame to make for a more comfortable ride. Women’s cruiser bikes also tend to have a lower, curved-down crossbar—the piece connecting seat and handlebars—which is a throwback to when women would wear skirts and dresses while riding a bike. (Incidentally, that still happens in Europe, where many women ride bicycles to office jobs). That low crossbar would allow them to mount and dismount the bike without raising the dress and exposing a lot of leg. In any case, a lower crossbar does make getting on and off the bike much easier. Additionally, the seats on women’s cruisers are wider.
This model has seven different gears. Courtesy sixthreezero
While the classic cruiser bicycle is a single-speed fixed-gear, riders who must navigate hilly areas might want to consider a cruiser with gears. Shifting into a lower(smaller) gear when ascending a hill makes the pedaling easier. Shifting into a higher (bigger) gear when going downhill or on level ground makes for more efficient pedaling. Even a cruiser bike with only three gears will provide those options for you—and keep things as simple as possible.
If you need to ride your cruiser bike long distances or have to navigate a long hill on your way to work or a store, a cruiser with a battery-powered electric motor may be your best choice. These bikes can be operated in full-power electric mode or in pedal-assist mode, which means the battery will last longer. The battery is removable so you can charge it indoors. Many people buy an electric cruiser bike because it enables them to commute to a job without buying or using a car.