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Cruiser Bikes are Making a Comeback

Updated on December 11, 2011

Cruiser Bikes Make a Comeback

The old single speed classic bikes are finally making a strong comeback. With New York City encouraging the use of bikes, and adding more and more bike lanes, New Yorkers are taking to their bikes to get around the city. One friend uses her bicycle here in NYC, almost exclusively.

Earlier Days

The heavy cruiser has always been my bicycle of choice. They are easier to mount and easier to ride. We used to call them truck bikes back in the early 60's because they were so big and heavy. But by the late 60's, if you rode one - you were made fun of - this was when the racer type bikes were becoming popular with teens, especially boys.

Then Came the Multi-speed Racers

Those multi-speed racer bikes remain today and are the most common bikes on the city streets. When they became popular in the late 60's we always called them English racers no matter where they were made. They are designed for speed but for me they have never been comfortable - I don’t like that bent over position, especially since I do not have to be aerodynamic, I'm not racing or traveling long distances, and most likely I am just cruising locally.

Cruiser Description

The cruiser bikes have those big balloon tires, an upright seating position which I prefer, and single speed mechanicals. They were the bicycle of choice here in the USA from the early 1930’s to the 1950’s. An important distinction was made between whether or not it was a female bicycle or a male bicycle. I had a female cruiser - this meant there was no elevated bar between the seat and the handle bar - making it possible for me to get on wearing a dress and, I suppose - a hundred petticoats! Why a boy would want a bar in that strategic place I could never understand; a slip down to that rigid metal bar meant a boy would be limping for at least a few days.


My old bike was a Schwinn - that seemed to be the most popular cruiser during my childhood. By the late 1960’s imported bikes from Europe and Great Britain hit the market. These were the English racers. Every teenage boy suddenly had to have one or he'd get laughed off the street; if he had a bike with balloon tires he was better off staying indoors or pretending it was his sister's bike. The English racer was considered the cool bike because first of all it was imported; it was also light weight, had three-speed gearing, and narrow tires as opposed to those fat balloon tires. This bike was easy to pick up and carry around which made a teenage boy look even cooler - being able to walk around carrying his fancy bike casually slung over one shoulder.

Of course seeing the immediate success of the English racer, the American company, Schwinn, followed suit and began making the English racer type bikes. I borrowed one from a teenage boy and promptly had an accident - but being young, strong and flexible I survived the crash much better than the boy's feelings. While he was upset, fortunately, he thought he was in love with me and was 1% more concerned about my well-being than his bike.

Now the cruiser is making a comeback; it is a comfortable option for those of us who travel shorter distances, and a bit more leisurely. I see many adults here in the city using cruisers as they transport a child on the back.

As more people opt to do the right thing, biking helps protect the environment - no gas is used; it makes more sense to use a bike to move a 150 pound person than to use a 2,000 pound gas machine. Riding a bike also helps burn calories, helps you beat traffic, reduces stress, and is relatively cheap.

Cruiser bikes are generally less expensive compared to the racers and mountain bikes. It has a reliable mechanical performance, and a comfortable ride. It is easy to give someone a ride on the back, and easy to attach a basket when you go grocery shopping. They usually have a pretty neat bell to ring as you are tooling around town. And so far I think they are less likely to be stolen than the other bikes.

While I prefer to walk anywhere in the city, rather than using mass transit, the cruiser bike is one I can return to should the city become more bicycle-friendly or should I retire to the suburbs or country - or should I just want to chain a bike to the gate out front.

See links below for related information about choosing the right saddle, and bike riding through NYC.

Biking in the City


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Ah, I remember when I was in Amsterdam - I stayed at the Boatel right near Centraal station. In addition to being a great walking city and seeing the trams, yes, there were bikes - lots of them. How wonderful. Unlike New York City where we are still overwhelmed with cars - biking is still a novelty.

      Love the idea of biking in Holland - good for you!

      Thanks for writing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love a cruiser bike. I am going to bike in Holland this summer. It is easy there. Everywhere is so flat, and everybody is biking there. You can't believe the amount of bikes you see in Amsterdam or for that matter everywhere else. You can not find Schwinn bikes there but the Dutch bikes are not so bad. I like my own Schwinn bike better.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thank you Fleetwood - I'll look into it because when Spring comes I want a cruiser bike - I like the more natural posture also. Will leave your info here to for the readers!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good points. Can I add the Cruiser bike also lends itself to unique customization and personalization that most other styles of bikes don't offer. Cruiser bike riding is more about "enjoying the sites and sounds" of the ride, rather than going far and fast. The cruiser is suited for everyday people. Please feel free to have a look at our unique, customizable cruiser brand, Villy Customs. Our interactive site:



    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oooh, thanks Maita I will have to get back out here and do some more hubbing. Ok - soon.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Hi Carolyn, Biking is good, exercise plus less pollution. Thanks for your concern always on environement, Happy weekend, Miss reading your hubs, Take care, Maita

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much for writing Charmbaker. Isn't it interesting how we all seem to have a good bike story? Would love to hear more about your adventures in NYC and the yummy guy!

      And ah, the 21 speed Huffy - that was the bike of choice too!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hey BKC - It's funny because you're in NYC writing about bikes and I have an NYC bike story. I vacationed out there (from Cali) a few years ago and met a guy (yummy!). He chained his bike in front of the hostel I stayed at and we walked around the city for 3 hours. Came back - the bike's still there! (believe it or not) We step just inside the lobby for 10 minutes and go back out on the street - the chain is busted - bike is gone! (Go figure) I get home from my trip 7 days later and find out my son had an accident on my 21 speed Huffy. They didn't want to tell me earlier and ruin my vacation. He was fine but the bike was totaled! I love my son to death, but darn I missed that bike! Great Hub as always.


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