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Cruiser Bikes are Making a Comeback
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.
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.
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.
How to Pick the Right Bicycle Saddle
- Why You Need a New Bike Saddle
As people take to their bikes, more than ever and for a multitude of reasons, one serious problem with bikes has not been addressed - the uncomfortable and numbing saddle. Discomfort of the perineum, the butt,...