Thinking about buying a beach cruiser bike? These classic bikes are excellent for casual cycling. They’re durable, low-maintenance, comfortable, and fun to ride. At the same time, there are some drawbacks to consider. Beach cruiser bikes are heavy and slow.
This guide outlines the pros and cons of beach cruiser bikes. We’ll cover performance, comfort, maintenance, gearing, efficiency, ride quality, cost, aesthetics, and much more. We’ll also share a few beach cruiser recommendations. Hopefully, this guide helps you decide whether or not a beach cruiser is the right type of bike for you.
What is a Beach Cruiser Bike?
A beach cruiser bike is a type of bicycle that is designed for casual riding on roads and bike paths. Beach cruisers are designed to be easy and comfortable to ride. They feature an upright riding position, wide balloon tires, a single-speed drivetrain, a long wheelbase, a wide seat, high-rise handlebars, a heavy-duty frame, and large platform pedals. They also have classic styling. In the past, beach cruisers were referred to as cruiser bikes or motobikes.
The frame is the main element that distinguishes a beach cruiser bike from any other type of bike. Most beach cruisers feature a rigid steel or aluminum frame with a long wheelbase. This design makes the bike very stable. The frame tubes are often thick and curved to give the bike a classic style. Beach cruiser frames are modeled after bikes from the 1930s to the 1950s. They do not have suspension.
Beach cruisers feature a simple design. Most models have a single-speed drivetrain. Oftentimes a coaster brake is used instead of rim brakes. On most models, there are no shifters, derailleurs, brake levers, brake calipers, or cables. This gives the bike an incredibly clean and simple look.
There are exceptions to this. Higher-end beach cruisers have a derailleur drivetrain with 3-7 gears or an internal gear hub. Some models come with disc brakes or rim brakes instead of a coaster brake.
Beach cruisers often have flashy or classic styling. For example, they may have chrome wheels, fenders, and handlebars. The tires may have white sidewalls. The grips and saddle may be made from leather. Some have handlebar streamers. The frame is often painted in a bright color. Beach cruisers may also feature accessories such as a basket or cup holder for carrying items or drinks. They are great for taking leisurely rides around town or at the beach.
Beach Cruiser Pros
Beach cruisers are ideal for recreational riding on bike paths, boardwalks, and around town. In this section, I’ll outline the main advantages of riding a beach cruiser.
Beach Cruisers are Comfortable
Beach cruisers are designed for comfort. Most models feature a large padded seat with built-in coil suspension, large platform pedals, and high-rise handlebars with comfortable grips. Beach cruisers also have wide, high-volume tires that help to absorb bumps and vibrations. This smooths out the ride.
The frame geometry also increases comfort. Beach cruisers offer an upright riding position that puts less stress on your back, neck, shoulders, and wrists. When riding a beach cruiser, your back and neck are straight. Your hands rest on the handlebars. There is very little weight on your wrists. All of your body weight sits on your bottom. You aren’t hunched over the handlebars like you are while riding a road bike. The seating position is very comfortable.
Beach cruisers also have a long wheelbase. This allows the frame to flex a bit. The frame itself can absorb some bumps and smooth out the ride. Beach cruisers do not have a suspension system. The frame is rigid. The long wheelbase and low center of gravity also increase stability.
Many beach cruisers also come with fenders. These help to keep you dry and comfortable while riding on wet roads or in the rain.
Beach Cruisers Look Cool
One of the main reasons people choose to ride a beach cruiser over another style of bike is the looks. Beach cruisers feature classy-looking frames with beautiful curved tubes and high-rise handlebars that sweep back. Many models also come with classic components such as whitewall tires, chrome fenders, leather grips, and a large padded seat.
Many riders also choose to customize their beach cruiser to suit their own personal style. For example, you could install chrome parts, give your bike a jazzy paint job, or install a basket or handlebar streamers. You could ride a stretched cruiser that looks like a chopper. You could install ape hangers if you enjoy that look. If you prefer a more toned-down look you can find all-black cruisers with basic components. You can customize your cruiser to match your personality.
Beach Cruisers are Low Maintenance
Beach cruisers use simple components that are easy to maintain. Most models are single-speed. There are no shifters and derailleurs to adjust. Many beach cruisers also use coaster brakes instead of disc or rim brakes. This means there are no brake levers and calipers to adjust and no brake pads to change. The design significantly cuts down on maintenance. You can just ride the bike.
To keep your beach cruiser running smoothly, all you have to do is clean the chain periodically and keep the chain properly tensioned. Once in a while, you’ll have to replace the tires, rear cog, and chain as they wear out. These are wearable parts on all bikes. You’ll also have to grease the bearings from time to time. It’s also a good idea to keep your bike clean and dry if you live near the beach to prevent it from rusting. That’s about it. Beach cruisers are simple bikes to maintain.
Higher-end beach cruisers require a bit more maintenance because they are more complex. Premium models feature a multi-speed drivetrain with a rear derailleur or an internal gear hub. They also have disc brakes or rim brakes instead of a coaster brake. You’ll have to keep the brakes adjusted and replace the pads when they wear out. These beach cruisers require the same maintenance as any other multi-speed bike.
To reduce maintenance, you can choose a model that uses a belt drive instead of a chain drive. These do not require frequent cleaning. Belt drives are only compatible with single-speed and internal gear hub drivetrains.
Beach Cruisers are Affordable
Beach cruisers tend to be cheaper than other types of bikes. You can buy an entry-level model for under $200. A mid-range beach cruiser costs around $300-$500. High-end models go for around $700-$1000.
Used beach cruisers are also commonly available. If you shop around, you should be able to find a decent one for around $100. If you don’t live near the beach, you may have trouble finding a used one. Check out my guide to buying a used bike for some helpful tips.
Beach cruisers are cheaper than road bikes and mountain bikes because they have fewer components. For example, most beach cruisers are single-speed. They don’t have derailleurs and shifters. Most models also have a coaster brake. They don’t have brake levers or calipers. Beach cruisers also tend to use cheaper, lower-end, and heavier components. They are designed for recreational use. Not racing. Weight and performance don’t really matter. This all saves money. These simple bikes are cheaper to manufacture so they can be sold for lower prices.
Beach Cruisers are Durable and Reliable
Beach cruisers are built to last. They feature durable steel or aluminum frames made from thick tubes. Most models have durable 26” 36 spoke wheels. They also have wide balloon tires that absorb shocks and resist punctures.
The simplicity of beach cruisers also improves durability. Most models don’t have shifters or derailleurs that can break. They are single-speed. Many models don’t even have brake levers and calipers. Instead, they have a durable and reliable coaster brake that is built into the rear hub. Coaster brakes require no adjustment and very little maintenance. You never have to replace brake pads or adjust calipers.
Because of the rugged design and simplicity, beach cruisers can take a beating. You can ride a beach cruiser over curbs without worrying about damage.
When riding a beach cruiser, you sit in an upright position. This allows you to look ahead at all times. You don’t have to bend your neck backward or look toward the ground like you would on a road bike.
This riding position allows you to keep your eyes on traffic and pedestrians at all times. You always have a clear view of the road ahead. This improves safety. It also allows you to enjoy the scenery more.
Beach cruisers may also be more visible to drivers. They are large bicycles. They are also kind of flashy. Many models come with colorful paint jobs or chrome components. This can improve visibility.
Beach Cruisers are Stable and Easy to ride
Beach cruisers are very stable thanks to their long wheelbase and low center of gravity. They hold their line well. They also feel balanced. The upright riding position and wide handlebars make the bike easy to steer. The wide handlebars provide excellent leverage, allowing you to turn the front wheel easily and precisely.
The large balloon tires provide good grip and shock absorption. You don’t have to worry too much about losing traction while riding over loose gravel or a sandy patch on the boardwalk. You’re unlikely to lose control. If you hit a bump or pothole, the high-volume tires will absorb the majority of the impact.
Beach cruisers also don’t require any shifting. Most models are single-speed. They take less thought to ride. You never have to think about which gear you’re using. They are also heavy and slow. You don’t have to worry about going too fast.
All of this makes beach cruisers very easy to ride. All you have to do is pedal and steer where you want to go. They’re great for beginners, those who don’t cycle often, and vacationers who aren’t in a hurry. Pretty much anyone can enjoy riding a beach cruiser.
Beach Cruisers are Versatile
Beach cruisers offer a number of uses. They are perfect for recreational riding around your neighborhood, by the beach, and on paved bike paths. Beach cruisers can also make great exercise bikes.
They also make great city bikes and commuter bikes due to their durability and low maintenance. You don’t have to worry about making frequent adjustments. Beach cruisers can take a beating without breaking. To improve utility, you could also mount a basket or a rear rack and panniers to your beach cruiser and use it for grocery shopping and other errands.
Beach cruisers also work well for travel and vacations because they are easy to ride and offer excellent visibility. You could carry a couple of beach cruisers on a bike rack on your motorhome or camper and ride them around camp.
Beach cruisers are also easy to share among friends and family because they are adjustable. Most models only come in one size. You can move the seat up and down and move the handlebars forward and backward to make the bike fit a wide range of riders.
It is also possible to ride your beach cruiser on a wide range of surfaces thanks to the wide grippy tires. You can ride on pavement or gravel or dirt roads. They can even handle some sandy sections of road.
Beach Cruisers are Fun to ride
Beach cruisers are ideal for recreational riding. Mostly because they’re so easy and comfortable to ride. When riding a beach cruiser, you don’t have to worry about shifting. You’re seated in a comfortable position with an excellent view of the road ahead. You don’t have to think about anything other than pedaling and steering. There is no competition. You’re not trying to set a time or speed record. You also don’t have to wear any special cycling clothing or shoes. It’s fun.
You can cruise around your neighborhood, a park, your city, and of course the beach. Riding a beach cruiser is a great way to spend some time with friends and family and enjoy the outdoors. While riding, you can also chat with your riding buddy and enjoy the views. Riding around on my cruiser always reminds me of the days when I used to ride around the neighborhood on my BMX bike when I was a kid.
Beach Cruiser Cons
Beach cruisers aren’t suitable for every rider or every type of cycling. In this section, I’ll outline some of the biggest drawbacks to riding a beach cruiser bike.
Beach Cruisers are Heavy
An average beach cruiser weighs around 35-45 pounds (16-20 kg). To compare, an average road bike weighs around 18-20 pounds (8-9 kg). Mountain bikes usually weigh around 28-32 pounds (13-15 kg). A beach cruiser could weigh twice as much as a lightweight road bike.
Beach cruisers are heavy mostly due to the frame. Most models come with a steel frame. Steel is the heaviest frame material used to build bikes. The frames are usually large. They have thick curved tubes and a long wheelbase. This all adds weight.
Beach cruisers also come with lower-end components. These are significantly heavier than the more premium components you might find on a road bike. You won’t find any lightweight beach cruisers.
There are several drawbacks to riding a heavy bike. A heavy bike accelerates slower. You’ll maintain a lower average speed while you ride. The weight also makes it harder to climb hills. Heavy bikes are also inefficient. It takes more energy to get the bike up to speed and keep the bike moving because you’re moving more weight around while you ride. The weight can also make the bike feel cumbersome in some situations. A heavy beach cruiser isn’t as nimble as a lightweight road bike.
Most beach cruisers have a single-speed drivetrain. The gear ratio is usually fairly high because beach cruisers are designed to be ridden on flat ground near the beach. They are not designed for climbing hills or accelerating quickly.
There are several drawbacks to having a single speed. First, climbing is difficult because you can’t shift down into an easier gear. Beach cruisers are not geared for climbing hills. Oftentimes you’ll have to walk the bike up hills. If you live in a hilly area, a beach cruiser probably isn’t for you.
Acceleration is also slow and difficult. You have to press down hard on the pedals to get the bike up to speed. This can be a challenge for those with knee issues. Sometimes you may need to stand up and use your body weight to press down on the pedals to accelerate quickly. This is annoying while riding in stop-and-go city traffic.
The top speed will also be low because you can’t shift up into a higher gear. The maximum sustainable speed on most beach cruisers is around 15 mph. If you plan to ride long distances, it will take you a while to reach your destination.
Higher-end beach cruisers often feature a multi-speed drivetrain. Usually, these models come with a single chainring and 6-8 cogs in the rear. Some premium models come with an internal gear hub. These offer much better performance.
Having some gears also makes the bike easier to ride on varied terrain. You gear down to accelerate faster from stops and climb hills more easily. You can shift up to reach a higher top speed.
The drawback to multi-speed drivetrains is that they increase complexity. There are more parts to maintain. The derailleur, shifter, and cable also take away from the bike’s clean looks.
For more info on drivetrains, check out my guide to single speed vs geared bikes.
Beach Cruisers are Slow
Beach cruisers accelerate slowly. They climb slowly. They have a low top speed. You’ll maintain a low average speed while riding a beach cruiser. You certainly won’t win any races.
Beach cruisers are slow for a couple of reasons. First, they are heavy. The extra weight slows you down. It’s harder to accelerate and maintain your speed because you’re moving more mass around as you ride.
Aerodynamics also plays a role in speed. Beach cruisers seat you in an upright position. Your arms are spread wide while gripping the handlebars. This riding position puts most of your body’s surface area into the wind, creating resistance. Your chest and arms act as a sail. This creates drag, which slows you down
The tires also slow you down. Most beach cruisers come with wide balloon-style tires. These have a large contact patch with the ground. This creates additional friction with the ground, which slows you down. The wide tires also create drag.
Most cruiser riders don’t care about speed. They just want to cruise around at low speeds of around 3-10 mph. If you want to ride fast, a beach cruiser isn’t a great choice.
Beach Cruisers Have Poor Hill Climbing Performance
Beach cruisers don’t climb well. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, they are heavy. It takes more energy to pedal the extra weight of a heavy bike up a hill.
Most beach cruisers are also single-speed. You can’t gear down to climb. To climb a hill with a beach cruiser, you’ll have to stand up and use your body weight to press down on the pedals. If the hill is too steep, you’ll have to get off the bike and walk it up the hill.
The riding position also isn’t ideal for climbing. You can’t get much leverage while seated in an upright position with your arms gripping the wide handlebars.
Beach cruisers are not ideal for riding in hilly areas. If you have to climb hills regularly, you’re better off buying a lighter-weight bike with gears. A hybrid bike may be a good alternative. If you want to ride a beach cruiser in a hilly area, you can but you should choose a model with a multi-speed drivetrain.
Beach cruises are not ideal for riding technical terrain, sharp turns, twisty roads, crowded paths, or narrow roads. They are designed to ride in a relatively straight line on wide bike paths and open lanes. The reason is that maneuverability isn’t great. If you plan to ride your bike off-road or through tight areas, a beach bike probably isn’t the best choice.
Due to the long wheelbase, beach cruisers have a large turning radius. You can’t make tight, technical turns with a beach cruiser. The weight also reduces maneuverability. It’s hard to manhandle a 40 lb bike. You can’t change direction as quickly because the heavier bike has more inertia. It is also harder to lift a wheel or hop with a heavy bike. You have to keep both wheels on the ground.
The wide handlebars can also make the bike hard to maneuver through narrow gaps. For example, while riding through dense traffic or crowded paths, you have to be careful so you don’t hit anything with your handlebar. I used to have to get off my beach cruiser and walk it while riding on a crowded section of the boardwalk when I lived in Huntington Beach, Ca.
Most beach cruisers have a single speed. You can’t gear down to give yourself more torque. You must accelerate slowly. The heavy weight of the bike also slows down your acceleration. It takes more time to bring a 40 pound beach cruiser up to speed than a 20 pound road bike
For this reason, beach cruisers aren’t ideal for stop-and-go city riding. They are best suited for cruising on bike trails, boardwalks, parks, etc.
There are a couple of ways to improve the acceleration of a beach cruiser. You can stand up on the pedals and use your body weight to press down harder. This gives you a bit more power to accelerate faster. Another option is to choose a bike with multiple speeds. A multi-speed drivetrain allows you to shift down into a lower gear that makes the pedals easier to turn. This makes acceleration easier and faster.
Efficiency and Aerodynamics
Beach cruisers are inefficient bikes. You’ll burn more energy while riding a beach cruiser than a road bike or mountain bike. This means you won’t be able to cover as much ground before you tire out. There are a couple of reasons for this inefficiency.
First, beach cruisers are heavy. It takes more energy to accelerate, climb, and maintain your speed with a heavy bike because you’re moving more mass around while you ride. You’ll tire out more quickly as a result.
The gearing also reduces efficiency. Most beach cruisers have a single speed. You can’t shift down into an easier gear while climbing or into a harder gear while cruising. In addition, you can’t maintain your optimal cadence with a single gear. You may pedal too fast or too slow in some situations. This is inefficient. You burn more energy when you’re not cycling at the optimal power and cadence for the terrain.
Beach cruisers also have poor aerodynamics. This is due to the riding position. Beach cruisers seat you in an upright riding position. In this position, your chest faces the wind and acts like a parachute. Your arms are spread while gripping the wide handlebars. Your chest and arms create a lot of drag. This slows you down significantly. Particularly while riding at high speeds or while riding into a headwind.
The faster you go, the more aerodynamics matter. At speeds above 9mph, air resistance becomes the main force acting against you. According to this interesting article from Exploratorium. “On a flat road, aerodynamic drag is by far the greatest barrier to a cyclist’s speed, accounting for 70 to 90 percent of the resistance felt when pedaling.”
Due to the long wheelbase, beach cruiser frames can also have a bit more flex than road and mountain bike frames. When you pedal hard, the frame wants to flex laterally. When this happens, some energy is being wasted flexing the frame instead of driving you forward. This wastes energy and reduces efficiency.
For those who just want to ride short distances or cruise around for fun, the inefficiency doesn’t really matter. If you need to ride more than 5-10 miles, you’ll be better off with a more efficient bike.
Beach cruisers have a classic aesthetic. They are modeled after bikes that were popular in the 1930s-1950s. The frame tubes are curvy. There may be fenders and white wall tires.
Some riders don’t like the classic looks. Instead, they prefer the more modern look of a road bike or mountain bike.
Beach cruisers can also draw attention. Many models have unique-looking frames, flashy chrome components, and bright paint jobs. They are also large bikes. Beach cruisers are also less common in areas that aren’t near the beach. They can draw some attention. If you want to blend in, you may be better off with a mountain bike or road bike.
Beach Cruisers are Difficult to Transport
The large size and heavy weight of beach cruisers make them difficult to transport. It’s not easy to lift a 40lb bike up above your head onto a rooftop bike rack. You can’t pack a bulky beach cruiser into the trunk of an average car. They’re too long. You’ll probably want to stick to riding around your home. If you like to transport your bike to ride in different places, a beach cruiser may not be the best choice. Instead, consider a folding bike.
Beach Cruisers are Not Ideal for Riding Long Distances
Beach cruisers are slow and inefficient due to their heavy weight, single speed gearing, and poor aerodynamics. It will take you forever to get where you’re going if you’re trying to cover long distances on a beach cruiser.
When you ride a beach cruiser for a long time, the wide, cushy saddle can become uncomfortable. After a while, it starts to chafe. If you have to ride more than 5-10 miles, you’re better off with a more efficient bike, such as a road bike or a hybrid.
Who Should Ride a Beach Cruiser?
A beach cruiser is a perfect bike for someone who wants to do some casual cycling. On a beach cruiser, you can cruise around at your own pace. These bikes are easy to handle due to the long wheelbase and wide handlebars. You don’t have to worry about shifting. You can just pedal and enjoy the view. If you only ride short distances on relatively flat surfaces, a beach cruiser can be ideal.
Those who value comfort will also appreciate beach cruisers. These bikes feature wide cushy saddles and cushy tires that absorb bumps and vibrations. The upright riding position seats you in a natural position with your back and neck straight. The high-rise handlebars place your hands in a neutral and comfortable position. Beach cruisers are extremely comfortable to ride.
A beach cruiser is also ideal for someone who wants to ride a stylish bike. The curvy frame and sweeping handlebars give beach cruisers some personality. You can also customize your beach cruiser to suit your personality. For example, you could choose a model with chrome wheels, ape hanger handlebars, white sidewall tires, fat tires, lights, luggage, or handlebar streamers. It’s easy to express yourself with a beach cruiser. These are some of the most customizable bikes.
Beach cruisers are also perfect for those who don’t like doing maintenance work. If you choose a single-speed model with a coaster brake, all you’ll have to do is clean and oil the chain once in a while and keep air in the tires. These bikes are practically maintenance-free.
If you’re on a tight budget, a beach cruiser may also be worth considering. These bikes are usually pretty affordable. You can buy a decent entry-level model for around $300. Used models are commonly available for under $100.
Who Should Avoid Beach Cruisers?
Beach cruisers are not ideal for those who ride in hilly areas. The single-speed and heavy weight of the bike make climbing a challenge. You may have to get off and walk your bike more often if you ride a beach cruiser. If you live in a hilly area, consider a hybrid bike instead.
Those who need to ride long distances are also better off avoiding beach cruisers. They’re just too inefficient. The upright riding position creates drag. The weight and single-speed drivetrain also reduce efficiency. If you have to ride more than 5-10 miles, you’ll be better off with a lighter bike with gears.
If you care about performance, you’ll also want to avoid beach cruisers because they’re slow. They accelerate slowly, turn slowly, and have a low top speed. You won’t win any races while riding a beach cruiser. These bikes are designed for leisure riding.
Those who suffer from any kind of knee issue may also want to avoid beach cruisers. These heavy bikes can be difficult to get up to speed. You really have to press down hard on the pedals. A multi-speed drivetrain can solve this issue. Electric beach cruisers are also available.
Those who need to transport their bike by car or carry their bike up stairs should also avoid beach cruisers due to their heavy weight and large size. Beach cruisers are cumbersome.
Beach Cruiser Recommendations
There are hundreds of beach cruiser models on the market. In this section, I’ll outline a few beach cruisers worth considering.
Sixthreezero Around the Block Cruiser Bike
This classic beach cruiser features a durable steel frame, spring-loaded saddle, wide handlebars, and a rear rack. It has a neutral and comfortable upright riding position. The curved frame, blacked-out components, and white sidewall tires give the bike a beautiful and classic style.
A number of configurations are available. The base model comes with a single-speed drivetrain with a coaster brake. 3 speed and 7 speed options are also available. These multi-speed models come with rim brakes. 26” and 24” wheel models are also available to fit riders of different heights.
This affordable beach cruiser has a simple and classic design. It features a steel frame and fork, swept-back handlebars, a single-speed drivetrain, and a coaster brake. The ride position is upright and comfortable. It even comes with fenders. It is a great choice for those who are on a tight budget.
Firmstrong Bruiser Beach Cruiser
This durable beach cruiser features an extended steel frame, 26” wheels with balloon tires, a spring-loaded oversized saddle, and wide swept-back handlebars. The bike is designed to be easy and comfortable to ride.
The Firmstrong Bruiser is available in 3 configurations including a single-speed, 3 speed, and 7 speed. The 3 speed model comes with a Shimano Nexus internal gear hub. The 7 speed model uses a Shimano derailleur system. The single-speed and 3 speed model use a coaster brake. The 7 speed model comes with rim brakes.
A Note About Corrosion and Abrasion While Riding Near the Beach
If you’re planning on riding your beach cruiser near the beach, there are a couple of precautions you’ll have to take to keep your bike running smoothly and reliably. In this section, I’ll outline how to avoid corrosion from salt air and abrasion from sand.
If you ride your beach cruiser near the ocean, you do have to keep an eye out for corrosion. The salty air can cause any steel parts to rust, including the chain, cogs, spokes, and frame.
If enough rust builds up, performance can decline. Rust reduces efficiency. For example, a rusty chain creates more friction, which slows you down.
If left untreated, rust can make your bike less durable. Rusty spokes can reduce the structural integrity of your wheels. Eventually, rust will eat through the frame and destroy your bike.
Of course, any bike can suffer from corrosion. It’s not an issue that is specific to beach cruisers. Beach cruisers tend to corrode more because they’re typically ridden near the sea. Salty air corrodes metal faster.
To keep your bike free of rust, try to store it indoors or under a cover. Also, try to clean your bike frequently to wash away any grimy buildup from the salty sea air. Be sure to clean the chain and cogs, frame, spokes, and wheels.
Some beach cruisers are made from materials that resist corrosion. For example, the frame and fork may be made from aluminum rather than steel. In this case, you won’t have to worry as much about rust. It is also possible to treat a steel frame with a rust inhibitor such as Progold Steel Frame Protector to reduce the likelihood of rust developing.
Another issue you have to consider when riding by the beach is abrasion caused by sand. Sand can wreak havoc on your bike’s drivetrain and wheels.
If you ride on a boardwalk or bike path near the beach, you’ll ride over sandy patches. As you ride, sand can get kicked up onto the drivetrain and stick to the lube on your chain and cogs. Sand can work its way into your chain. As the sandy chain runs over the sandy gears, the rough sand causes abrasion. These parts can wear out prematurely as a result. Your chain and cogs may not last as long if you ride through sand regularly.
The solution is to clean your drivetrain frequently. To reduce the amount of sand buildup on your drivetrain, you should also use a dry lube. These lubes go on wet and then dry quickly so the sand doesn’t stick. This Finish Line DRY Teflon Bicycle Chain Lube would be a good option.
Sand can also stick to your bike’s rims and brake pads. When you apply the brakes, the sand gets pressed into the pads. The pads then press the coarse sand into the sides of the rims. This scratches your rims. You can quickly ruin rims if you’re not careful.
I learned about this the hard way. While bicycle touring across my home state, I decided to take a ride on the beach. Some sand stuck on my rims and made its way into my brake pads. I didn’t notice until my rear rim got scratched up pretty badly. I didn’t ruin the rim but it looked pretty ugly. It probably won’t last as long as it otherwise would have.
Oftentimes, the sand cannot be removed from the brake pads. You’ll have to replace them if they get contaminated. I had to replace my brake pads. I couldn’t get the sand out.
To avoid scratching up your rims, wash your rims and brake pads after riding through the sand. To avoid this problem altogether, consider choosing a beach cruiser with a coaster brake. This way, you don’t have to worry about sand on the rims or pads. The brake is sealed inside of the rear hub. Disc brakes also don’t get contaminated with sand as easily because the braking surface sits higher. It’s harder for sand to make its way onto the rotor.
My Experience Riding Beach Cruisers
About 10 years ago, I moved to a beach town in Southern California. One of the first things I did after moving in was buy a beach cruiser. I needed a simple bike to make the 1 mile ride from my apartment to the beach and back so I wouldn’t have to deal with expensive beach parking.
At the time, I was on a tight budget so I went to Walmart to shop for a bike. I ended up buying the OP Roller beach cruiser. It was a simple single-speed model with an aluminum frame and a coaster brake. It was on a 4th of July sale for $100. I didn’t expect much for that price but I figured it would serve my purpose for a while at least.
I rode that bike to the beach and back every day for about 3 years. The only maintenance I ever had to perform was oiling the chain. I also had to repair a flat tire one time. Sometimes the handlebars would come loose and I would have to tighten them back up with an Allen key. The bike was surprisingly durable and reliable, considering the price I paid for it.
The ride from my apartment to the beach was completely flat. The single-speed handled fine. When I arrived at the beach, I would cruise the boardwalk. Sometimes, I’d lock my bike up and take a dip in the ocean or lay out on the sand. I made many great memories with that bike.
A few years ago, I bought another beach cruiser. This time, I choose a model with a 7 speed derailleur drivetrain and rim brakes. Having gears greatly improves the bike’s performance. Being able to gear down to climb hills makes the bike much more versatile. The increased maintenance is a drawback. Also, having to clean sand off of the rims was an annoyance.
After owning both bikes for several years, I have found that I prefer having a coaster brake on a beach cruiser. Rim breaks work fine but they can get contaminated with sand easily while riding near the beach. I appreciate the simplicity of a single-speed bike but prefer the versatility of having multiple gears.
Another Type of Bike to Consider: The Hybrid
If, after reading this guide, you decide that beach cruisers aren’t for you, consider riding a hybrid bike. A hybrid bike is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. They are designed for riding all types of terrain.
Compared to beach cruisers, hybrid bikes are lighter, faster, and more efficient. They feature a multi-speed drivetrain and a lighter design.
Like beach cruisers, hybrid bikes are also designed for comfort. They feature an upright ride position. Most models come with a wide, padded seat, ergonomic grips, and large platform pedals.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to hybrid bikes. They aren’t really great at any type of riding. Hybrid bikes can handle some light off-road riding such as dirt paths and easy mountain bike trails. They also aren’t as fast as road bikes on-road. Hybrid tires are a bit thinner than what you would find on a beach cruiser.
Final Thoughts About Beach Cruiser Bikes
Beach cruisers make excellent casual bikes for riding bike trails, boardwalks, and around your neighborhood. They’re durable, require little maintenance, and are fun to ride. As a bonus, they look cool too.
As we have seen, there are some compromises you’ll have to make when choosing a beach cruiser over another type of bike. You won’t be fast when you ride a beach cruiser. You’ll also have to put up with the extra weight of the large frame. This reduces efficiency. You’ll tire out quicker.
Whether or not you decide to ride a beach cruiser, I hope this guide has helped you in making your decision.
Do you ride a beach cruiser bike? Share your experience in the comments below!
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