The best cruiser bikes are chosen by riders who might feel overwhelmed by the different types of bikes out there and want to do one thing, cruise. Best suited for leisure riding, cruiser bicycles are generally single-speed and optimise comfort over performance. Most of all, a cruiser bike can be taken anywhere from the streets around town to those lazy afternoon rides along the beach.
Considered the first bicycle, cruiser bikes have been around since the early 20th century and served as the inspiration for the different types of bikes to follow. The cruiser bikes of today have stayed true to these roots, mostly being used for short-distance transport and enjoyed by those who casually cycle.
Characteristics of cruiser bikes
Like most bikes, a cruiser bike has many distinctive features that are suited to the kind of ride that a cruiser bicycle gives you. These include wider tires, known as balloon tires, that add to the overall stability. The handlebars are taller and wider, bending towards the rider to complement the up-right but comfortable steering posture. Lastly, the steel frame is among the lightest of all types and easily distinguished by its curvy shape that completes the laid-back look.
Coaster vs Hand Brakes
A common difference that you will come across as you search for a cruiser bike is the brakes. Many bikes today will feature coaster brakes as opposed to the conventional hand brakes. While one is not particularly better than the other, coaster brakes can make for a different kind of ride that you may not be used to.
Simply, coaster brakes are activated by pedalling backward. This immediately locks the back wheel up, bringing the cruiser bike to a much faster halt. Some cruiser bikes even include front and rear coaster brakes that provide even more stopping power, especially if cruising around a busy boardwalk.
It’s something to look out for as most of us might be used to using hand brakes while riding. While most cruiser bikes do include hand brakes, some often include coaster brakes and are only seen in these types of bikes.
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Price: From $400
For every kind of rider, every level of rider, Trek has a bike for every situation for the most advanced athletes to a casual enthusiast. Founders Bevil Hogg and Dick Burke loved the travel and adventure that cruiser bike riding afforded them and constructed the brand’s identity around using your bike to explore your town, your country and the world beyond.
That message transitions perfectly into their range of cruiser bikes that are perfect for cruising around the block. Trek even has e-bike and single speed options. We recommend the ‘Townie Path Go!’ cruiser bike which features a Bosch Performance Line motor, hydraulic disk brakes and even a hub for your smartphone attached to the handlebar.
Price: From $379
Founded in 2009 by a group of friends while they were studying at the University of Southern California, Sole has the perfect backyard for cruiser bikes. They believed that a cruiser bicycle was more than just a bike, it was an extension of you. Their aim was to make the best beach cruiser bikes that fit their lifestyle and of course, their budget.
Being based in Venice Beach, their range is among the best single speed beach cruiser bikes and for those lazy Saturday afternoon rides with friends. The ‘Nine-O’ beach cruiser bike is built for the boardwalk or byways and features a hi-tensile steel frame that is rust-resistant, balloon tires for increased speed and a stylish matte finish.
Price: From $499
With a worldwide market available to them, Polygon has been manufacturing cruiser bikes since their founding in 1989, to the U.S and even Australia. Well regarded for their durable steel frames, they have always sought to use their materials and technologies to create a cruiser bike that will support you around the block or a trip to the coast.
If you are looking for a beach cruiser bike that balances style and comfort, then the ‘Town 3’ cruiser bike is the best on offer. With a Shimano 3-speed hub that ensures a light and easy ride, and featuring a laid back riding position that allows you to lay your feet flat on the ground when stationary, finished with vintage leather grips.
Price: From $115
In the late 19th century, a bike craze swept the United States and changed the way people went from A to B. This is considered the birth of cruiser bikes and George Huffman saw the potential and founded Huffman Bicycles in 1892. They did not adopt the name Huffy until 1977 and the name has become synonymous with the cruiser bike ever since.
With a slogan like, ‘It’s not about how fast you go, but how much life you soak up along the way’, you can ride with confidence knowing Huffy have some of the best cruiser bikes for those carefree, leisurely rides. The ‘Woodhaven’ is a single speed cruiser bike that features a 26-inch wheel size, front and rear coaster brakes and a durable steel frame.
Price: From $118
With a history dating back to 1895, Schwinn are another of the ye old brands that took advantage of cruiser bikes becoming a dominant mode of transport. Founder Ignaz Schwinn was instrumental in creating the classic cruiser bike, being the first to use balloon tires and adding an imitation gas tank that would define the look of cruiser bikes for most of the 20th century.
If you are looking for a cruiser bike to get you from A to B without the rush, then the ‘Huron 1’ is a good start that has all the features of a common cruiser. With a single-speed drivetrain that is easy to use and maintain, and rear coaster brakes that will provide a confident stop.
Price: From $98
The history of Kent can be traced back to a little bike shop in the Lower East Side of New York in 1909. The shop was opened by Abraham Kamler and as it changed ownership over the years, it grew larger each time, becoming known as Kent International in 1958. During this period they were known for manufacturing cruiser bikes best suited for the cramped streets of the city.
Their range is among the most affordable and has expanded from the typical road cruiser bikes to include beach cruisers as well. Luckily, the ‘La Jolla’ cruiser bike can seamlessly transition between both with its lightweight steel frame, front and rear cruiser brakes, and single-speed drivetrain.
Price: From $330
Inspired by his love of cruising around the block of his native Hermosa Beach, Sixthreezero founder Dustin Gyger began the brand out of his garage. Seeking to personify the beach culture of Southern California, he inevitably began with a cruiser bicycle, building his own and growing the brand around the cruiser bike culture that has always been a part of the California lifestyle.
If an adventure is what you are looking for, Sixthreezero has a range of cruiser bikes that are both durable and comfortable. Their ‘Evryjourney’ cruiser bike is a perfect example of what single speed can offer, with a 26-inch wheel size that will give you more control on rocky trails or urban streets.
Price: From $280
Retrospec is relatively new to the bike scene, having only sold its first model in 2009. But, some gorgeous and genius designs, coupled with affordable prices has allowed the Californian brand to quickly become on to take notice of.
Retrospec designs and produces bikes for riders of all abilities and all styles, whether it be mountain biking, e-biking or a conventional road bike. But it’s the company beach cruiser bikes that we’re particular fans of, with the Chatham Beach Cruiser being a fine example. Simple, minimalistic design, attractive colours and above all, incredibly affordable.
Price: From $380
‘Born by the beach, built for anywhere’, that’s the mission statement that Firmstrong delivers about their range of cruiser bikes. Founded in Hermosa Beach, California, a city made popular for being almost purposefully built for the cruiser bicycle and aims to spread the California single speed cycling experience to the rest of the world.
The ‘CA-50’ beach cruiser lives up to the brands promise of ‘built for anywhere’ that includes a 26-inch wheel size and balloon tires, ideal for treading sand. Maximum comfort is provided by a durable steel frame and a lower seat tube that supports an oversized, padded saddle.
Price: From $148
Established in 1990 by former BMX-pro Clay Goldsmid, Hyper started out producing high-end BMX bike frames and components. Their continued commitment to sponsoring riders, teams and events saw the brand grow and expand further into the cruiser bike market with beach and street cruiser bikes.
With an affordable range available, Hyper’s cruisers can be ridden around the block, along the boardwalks or on the beach. The ‘Commute’ cruiser bike seeks to offer a classic look and comfortable single speed ride with the very best in modern bike technology. This includes coaster brakes and 7-speed Shimano twist shifters that guarantee a strong performance as well.
Price: From $194
A brand that understands cruiser bicycles are a community experience and best enjoyed with friends, so that’s why Kaluna has developed a cruiser bike with front and rear seats. While these tandem bikes have become a specialty of theirs, the range of cruiser bikes available offer something for every kind of ride, including some of the finest beach cruisers.
Affordable and reliable, the ‘Lakona’ beach cruiser bike is supported by a single speed drivetrain that will give you easy-going performance. The front and rear coaster brakes provide intuitive stopping power even on the unpredictable terrain of the beach, and the rear rack can support light to medium weights.
Price: From $198
Standing for the Bicycle Corporation of America, BCA is a sub-brand of Kent International dedicated to providing American made cruiser bicycles to the worldwide market. Based in South Carolina and founded in 2013, they are committed to producing cruiser bikes using the very best in American manufacturing and engineering.
Even with a range that focuses on quality over quantity, their cruiser bikes offer a smooth ride for the city streets to the boardwalks of the beaches. The ‘Charleston’ cruiser bike features foot-operated coaster brakes and a steel frame shaped like the aesthetic of a classic beach cruiser, and it can be enjoyed comfortably, anytime and anywhere.