THE MODERN BEACH CRUISER BIKE IS A MINIMALIST’S DREAM—EASY, FUN, AND SIMPLE.
What is a Beach Cruiser?
Find Your Beach
Beach cruiser bikes have an upright stance and a laid-back attitude… They are definitely ready for a good time.
Beach Cruisers share something in common with the iPhone: Both were designed in California.
Cruisers come in bright colors for pretty girls on sunny days at the beach. Beach bikes come from places like Huntington Beach and San Diego.
Beach Cruisers are ‘grown-up’ versions of the bike you had as a kid.
Beach Cruiser Bikes are for fun.
If you don’t like fun, get outta here.
They are the Jeffrey Lebowski’s of bicycles.
Beach Cruisers Abide.
People who ride cruisers are ‘cruisey.’
Why Should You Ride a Beach Cruiser Bike?
It’s a unique experience designed with fun in mind. Cruising has many side benefits.
A beach cruiser is a great way to get exercise and feel better.
It’s fun and easy at almost ANY age.
Need Help Pedaling Uphill?
Some beach cruisers come with changeable gears. In addition, new beach bike models are available with electric-assist in the form of an electric motor.
Beach cruiser bikes come in men’s or women’s models.
Women’s beach cruisers often feature a ‘step-through’ frame. It is also known as an open frame or low-step frame.
The women’s frame cruiser bike was a hold-over when women used bikes in a skirt 100 years ago.
Since most women do not wear skirts (to ride bikes at least), they can choose whatever frame they want!
Beach cruiser bikes come in many fun colors: pink, yellow, orange, red, black, and green.
Why are they called Beach Cruiser Bikes?
History describes the original cruiser bikes were designed as part of a line of bikes that mimicked US Navy ships. However, the cruiser was the only one that stuck.
They are great to cruise to the beach, man.
Cruiser bikes are not really suitable for riding on the actual beach. Bikes and sand do not go well together.
Don’t expect to rent a beach cruiser bike and ride down on the sand. Unfortunately, most beaches don’t allow bicycles on the sand.
Why do they call it a beach cruiser?
Most beaches have a section of sidewalk that parallels the beach. This is the best use for the beach cruiser bike.
Cruise the seawall. It’s simple. ‘Beach cruising’ at its finest.
Should I get a beach cruiser if I don’t live by the beach?
Yes. Find your beach.
Cruiser Bike Mystery School is in Iowa!
There are mystic rivers and lake beaches. But, we find our own ‘beach’ or create our own vibe.
“Life’s a beach, bro.”
Beach cruiser bikes are the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of bikes.
They can do a lot of things pretty well. They are not the fastest or the lightest, but they can get you to your beach in style with smiles.
Do You Need a Beach Cruiser with Gears?
Should you get a beach cruiser with many gears?
Short answer, NO.
Long Answer, It Depends.
For example, if your ride is flat, you do not need gears…
Or, if you live in an area with steep hills, you want to consider gears.
Three Reasons to Get a beach cruiser bike WITH gears.
- There are many hills where you live.
- You need help with strenuous exercise.
- You don’t like exertion.
Two Reasons NOT to get gears on your beach cruiser bike
- Switching gears is distracting and loud.
- Wondering at all times, “Am I in the right gear?”
Popular Options for Speeds on beach cruisers
7 Speed Cruiser Bike
The Seven-speed allows for the most range of gear ratios.
That means you can peddle uphill faster using a more manageable gear ratio.
In addition, you can switch gears to find the most accessible method up any hill.
3 Speed Cruiser Bike
The 3-speed beach cruiser is a good choice for people who want an easy ride but don’t need many gears.
What’s the deal with Cruiser Brakes?
Some Beach Cruisers come with ‘kick brakes’ or ‘coaster brakes.’ To stop, you pedal backward.
You can also get a beach cruiser bike with hand brakes. They work with levers on the handlebars.
Reasons to get a beach cruiser bike with Hand Brakes.
- Not familiar or comfortable pedaling backward. Maybe a hand brake feels more natural to you?
- Strong with hands and arms for pulling the brake.
- You like having more things to control.
- You live in a hilly area. Coaster brakes are not great on steep hills.
- When to consider getting a Kick Brake or Coaster Brakes
- You ride in safe areas without lots of hills. Coaster brakes are not very safe on steep hills. The grease heats up and fails to work as well, and the gear can damage over time.
What about an electric Beach cruiser bike?
Need more help getting up that hill?
A beach cruiser electric bike can give you a little boost getting up a steep hill.
Is there a nasty hill between you and your beach? Consider one of the tremendous electric-assisted beach cruisers on the market.
A pedal-assist beach cruiser can change the game for seniors who need a little help to get back in the saddle!
What kind of Beach Cruiser Seat do I need?
You need a ‘beach cruiser’ seat. That sounds obvious, but a ‘beach cruiser bike seat’ is a specific type of seat. It has a shape reminiscent of a tractor saddle, with a wide area for the buttocks.
Some people call a ‘beach cruiser seat’ a saddle, like a horse. We are not offended.
Get back in the saddle on your beach bike! Everyone’s doing it.
The most comfortable beach cruiser seats come with at least two springs. They hold up the left and right sections of the butt. In addition, cruiser seats have a ‘spring ride’ that riders covet.
Say what you want about beach cruiser bikes; we have the best seats in the bike world.
When people try a beach cruiser for the first time, they often quip, “I can’t believe how comfortable the seat is.”
At Cruiser Bike Mystery School, we use the Brooks M67 beach cruiser bike seat (not an ad).
It’s an actual classic.
It’s made of leather by the same company since 1882.
You can’t use it in the rain. But, you can buy a shower cap for it, in case you find yourself on a ride, in the rain…
It comes with its own wrench and special leather cream.
Some people install banana seats on their beach cruisers.
If you use a banana seat, SEND US A RAD PICTURE.
What tires do you use on a beach cruiser bike?
Cruiser bike tires do not usually have knobby tread, like a mountain bike.
Beach cruiser tires are often 2.125 inches, which is pretty wide but not as wide as a typical mountain bike tire.
The knobbier the tire, the slower you will go. Your grip will increase in off-road environments.
At Cruiser Bike Mystery School, we ride a tire from Maxxis, the Grifter, a BMX style tire.
The tires that come on the bike should be fine for at least a few years. HOWEVER, If you upgrade the tires on your beach bike, it will be smoother and corner better.
If you live in an area with lots of thorns, do not ride on the grass. Thorns will puncture the tire.
Beach Cruiser Tubes:
Get the size that corresponds to the diameter and width of your wheel and tire.
If you have a 24, 26, or 29-inch wheel, make sure the first number matches the diameter. The second number is the tire width.
To find the measurement on your current tire, look on the sidewall for raised lettering. It will say something like 26 x 2.10.
How to change a tire on your beach cruiser bike
Most people aren’t trying to change the tires on the cruiser bike. Instead, they want to change the inner tube.
That’s ok, we know what you mean.
How to change an inner tube on a beach cruiser
- Remove the wheel using a wrench.
- Deflate tube by removing the cap and depressing plunger inside.
- Remove one side of the tire with a tire removal tool.
- Remove the old tube.
- Install a new tube with a valve through the hole.
- Add a small amount of air, enough to inflate with a small amount of air.
- Push the tire into the rim all the way around.
- Inflate the tire, making sure the sides stay in the rim.
- Put a cap on the valve.
Can you ride a beach cruiser on the beach?
It depends. If the sand is hard-packed, you can ride on the beach. This works best in front of the surf, where the sand is wet and denser.
Sand is too hard to ride on when dry. It’s too loose.
Most beaches don’t allow bikes. The beach cruiser mystique grew out of riding your cruiser to, from, and AROUND the beach.
What about a Fat Tire beach cruiser?
You’ve seen massive tires on bikes. They look like pontoons.
Oversize tires became popular to ride in snowy areas, often with studs for grip.
NEWBIE NOTE: If you only have one bike, stay away from the ultra-wide wheels. They are an excellent option for a second bike. However, people find them difficult to maneuver and take care of. Thus making people less likely to ride.
Are cruiser bikes good for exercise?
Biking burns lots of calories. An hour of moderate effort on a bike can burn 544 calories.
- Riding a beach cruiser bike is enjoyable. This means you will WANT to do it. If it’s fun, you do it more.
- It doesn’t feel like work. Going to the gym feels like a smelly chore full of weirdo dudes.
- Going for a bike ride… In the breeze… With the sun in your face…
- Seeing people, interacting with nature… It’s incredible.
- Most cruiser bikes have only one gear. This gear is best for cruising. It will not be the best gear to go up hills.
- If you ride up a few hills, you will discover joy waiting on the other side: Riding downhill on a beach cruiser.
How far can you ride a beach cruiser?
The Strava app is not meant for beach cruising… That’s ok, we don’t mind. Check out: how far can you ride a beach cruiser?
How much do beach cruiser bikes cost?
They are cheap (compared to most bikes).
You can get one at Walmart (assuming they have stock) right now, in under an hour. That bike, the Nel Lusso or the Cranbrook by Huffy, are not great bikes. But they will get you riding today for under $200.
Try to go into any bike shop and spend less than $500 on ANY ADULT BIKE… Almost impossible.
Why MOST BIKE SHOPS DO NOT SELL Beach Cruisers
- Bike shops look down on beach cruisers. They see them as not serious cycles. Maybe it’s hard to make money selling them?
- They think they won’t sell in their area. (Walmart disagrees)
Most beach cruiser bikes (pre-2020) sell for $500 or below.
There are more expensive bikes, but under $500 should have you set up for a while.
You should be able to get into a decent starter cruiser for under $200 in 2021. If you want fancier stuff, buy fancier stuff!
What Size Beach Cruiser Do I Need?
While specifics are important, a ‘starter’ beach cruiser doesn’t need to be fancy to be fun.
Checklist to determine if a beach cruiser bike fits:
- Step One: Can you step over it? Try leaning the bike toward you and stepping over the back wheel. Alternatively, step through the pass-through, like those on ladies and Dutch bikes. If you can’t step over it, it’s too big, or you are not ready to get on this bike!
- Step Two: When you stand over it on flat feet, can you pick it up a few inches or more before it hits you in the crotch? If not, proceed with caution. Jumping off this bike at an intersection could have racking consequences.
- Step Three: Does it feel good? If you can step over it and it fits between your legs, take it for a spin in your driveway. Does it feel good? Try adjusting the seat height. Your leg should have a slight bend in it when fully extended at the bottom of your pedal. You can also adjust the handlebars until they feel right to you!
If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.
Can a Beach Cruiser go on a Bike Rack?
NEWBIE ALERT: Make sure to buy a bike rack for the car to get your beach cruiser home from Walmart!
I bought my beach cruiser at Walmart and forgot to buy a car rack. I assumed the bike would fit in the back of my Subaru Outback. It did not.
Being a stubborn American, I strapped the bike to the top of the car… Rather than take it back inside and admit defeat!
It’s a good idea to check your bike’s weight before buying a car carrier.
Look up the name of your bike, like “Genesis Onex Beach Cruiser,” for example. Most retailers will list the bike’s weight on their site or on a tag on the bike.
How to use a bike rack
There are two main ways to mount a bike on a car
- The Hard Way: Roof Bike Rack.
- The Easy Way: Hitch or Trunk-Mount.
The roof rack is best for traveling long distances or having two or more bikes to move.
Roof rack bike racks are complex. You need specific mounting hardware made for your type of car.
The Downsides of a Roof Rack Car Mount.
- With the rack on, your car is a new height. Driving under a low-hanging bank drive-through is the end of a fun day.
- The Physicality of Lifting a Bike onto a Car Roof
To get the bike on top of your car, you must lift a bike on top of a vehicle.
These are some things to consider:
- You must be able to lift a bike to the height of your car’s roof.
- You have to then extend your arms…
- While holding your bike…
- Across to the mounting hardware…
- Without scratching or denting the roof.
This is hard for anyone.
Once you get the bike onto the rack, you must be able to hold your bike up and fasten it into the carrier. Also, more challenging than it sounds.
Mounting of the Rack to the Car:
Roof racks are designed to be left on the vehicle for long periods. Which means they have to be locked to the car. This involves keys and lots of clamps and complexity.
Removing Your Beach Bike from the Roof:
A person must be able to lift a bike a few inches and then pull it toward them. This is also much harder than it sounds.
Car roofs dent and scratch easily.
Benefits of Using a Roof Rack for Your Bike:
- Your bikes are tucked away, not impeding your view when you drive, like a trunk or hitch mount would.
- You can’t back into something with your bike, like you can with a trunk or hitch mount.
- You don’t have to worry about your license plate being obstructed from view, as you do with a rear mount.
- You don’t have to worry about your trunk being unavailable like you do with a trunk mount for your beach cruiser.
- You don’t have to worry about adding adaptors if you have a ‘step through’ or women’s frame on your cruiser.
- Your bike wheel doesn’t hang out past the width of the car.
Trunk or Hitch Mounted Transport
Benefits of Transporting your bike on a trunk or hitch mount:
Ease of Use:
While roof racks are complicated with lots of parts, trunk and hitch racks are more accessible. Trunk racks are self-contained. It is easy to grab the rack from the garage and toss it into the trunk. You only have to bring one thing, the bike rack.
Easy to mount:
I set mine up once, and it now takes under a minute to mount and dismount.
Negatives of a Trunk or Hitch Rack
- The backup camera might be obscured by bikes.
- Women’s or ‘step-through’ frames need an adaptor to work on a trunk rack.
- Backing into something is easier than you expect.
- The front-wheel can be floppy while on the car rack.
- Less secure than a roof rack.
- Easier to damage trunk lid paint.
Steel or Aluminum Frame?
Steel is a nicer ride, but it weighs and costs more. Aluminum is rust-proof and light, making it faster and easier to peddle and store. It’s also cheaper.
Go For an Adventure
Aluminum Is Great for Cost, Speed, and Weight
There is no easy answer.
The Benefits of Aluminum Beach Cruiser
Weight: Aluminum is lighter. More of your pedaling energy gets transferred into moving the bike forward VS. fighting gravity against a heavier frame.
Aluminum is a good choice if you have to lift your bike more than six inches and you are over 50. Think about hanging the bike on a wall rack or putting it on a car rack.
Could your mother lift the bike?
If yes, it’s aluminum.
Weather: Aluminum does not rust.
Go find ANY Bike and Go for Cruise Today.
Negatives of Aluminum Beach Bikes
Bumps… Aluminum, being light, doesn’t have a lot of material to ‘soak up bumps,’ like steel.
When an aluminum bike runs over a bump, it’s a bit like hitting a ball with an aluminum tennis racket.
The bike can feel ‘chattery,’ meaning it jumps around a bit when it goes over bumps (like Kris Kross).
This can be alleviated by running tires at a lower pressure. It IS a cruise, after all.
The Benefits of a Steel Cruiser Bikes
Steel is harder to break, bend, or fatigue, and it can easily be fixed.
The Ride: People describe the ride of steel as “Buttery smooth.”
This might be something that interests you if you like a chill ride (or butter).
As we get older, a ‘chattery’ or ‘bumpy’ aluminum bike seems like one more reason to not go on a ride.
If steel makes your ride more enjoyable, that’s a win. I would recommend trying both, see what you like. See what kind of beach cruiser bike is best for you.
How do I tell if a bike is made of aluminum or steel at the store?
- Look at the brochure. Bike manufacturers will describe the material on the bike.
- Find the sticker: A bike frame will often say what it’s made of on a sticker on a horizontal tube above the cranks.
- Is it light? Finally, if you pick it up and you think, “Hey, that’s pretty light.” It’s aluminum.
- Is it heavy? If you pick up the cruiser and think, “I do not want to lift that onto the roof of my car.” It could be either, but it’s probably steel.
What should you do now?
Go test drive some bikes! Go to Walmart or shop online. Just Google Beach Cruiser Bike and start browsing… OR call your bike shop and ask them.
The point of this site is to get you BACK ON ANY BIKE… to Go for a cruise. Go for a ride. Ride until you smile. Get healthier by getting some exercise!
What did we leave out? Comment below!