Cruiser bikes are head turners. Finished in vibrant primary and pastel colours, flashing chrome and highly accessorised, a cruiser bike is part nostalgia on wheels, part beach culture icon.
The cruiser bike owes its origins to the classic American bicycle launched by Schwinn in the 1930’s. This heavy, tough machine resembled a motor bike, but with no motor – heavy cantilevered frame with two top tubes, fat balloon tyres, streamlined headlight, even a fake gas tank. Modern cruiser bicycles echo many of these design elements.
The cruiser reached its heyday in the 1950’s but was gradually replaced by lighter sports and roadster bikes with multi-speed derailleur gears from Europe. Obsolete by the 1970’s, they nevertheless lingered on California beach boardwalks for utility and recreational use, and began to be manufactured again as Beach Cruisers.
Their revival in popularity in America today stems from their comfort, safety, mechanical simplicity, sturdiness and, above all, their stylish retro looks. They are now beginning to appear in Britain as an entertaining and versatile variation on serious mountain bikes, refined racers and functional hybrids.
Create a Work of Art
Because cruisers are relatively new on the scene in the UK, any parts purchased are probably not for replacement purposes.
With their sculptural lines and unusual candy colours, cruisers are something of a work of art. By making an inspired and judicious selection of parts and accessories, you can create your very own work of art to pedal around on.
To make choosing parts easier, it is convenient to divide a Cruiser bicycle into eight separate, logical systems.
Most of these systems have essential sub-components. Accessories make up such an important distinguishing element of a cruiser that they have a category of their own.
Seat or saddle
Cruiser Bike Systems Explained
In deciding on the fame there are three key factors to consider:
- materials, either steel or aluminium;
- whether the cruiser bicycle is for a man or a woman;
- what size and what wheelbase it should be.
- Steel frames are generally heavier, have lower quality components, and will rust when exposed to water, especially sea water, if used on and around the beach.
- Aluminium frames tend to be significantly lighter in weight, are equipped with higher quality components, and they do not rust. As a result they are generally more expensive then steel frames.
Men’s or Ladies?
- Men’s frames have a top tube that goes straight across, starting at the top of the head tube and ending at the top of the seat tube. The tube styling will vary between manufacturers and models but they will all have the same straight across design.
- Women’s frames are designed with a top tube that begins at the top of the head tube and dips down to the centre or bottom of the seat tube (called a step through-frame) resulting in a lower stand-over height, allowing the rider to mount and dismount in a decorous manner while wearing a skirt or dress.
- Size is determined by wheel diameter. All standard adult cruisers are considered a 26” intended for women between 5’1” and 6’2” and men between 5’4” and 6’2”. Males and females who are shorter might consider a 24” frame which is also perfect for children aged 8 and upwards.
- Wheelbase In cruisers that have “off-set/forward pedalling” the entire crank is moved forward, and sometimes the seat tube is angled backwards to allow for greater leg extension which results in a longer wheel base and a shorter seat tube height - the ideal frame for individuals over 6’2”, the elderly, heavier set individuals, and people with knee problems.
Springer forks are a notable distinguishing feature used on many cruiser bicycles. For an easy ride use a 26" straight springer fork, and for a more stretched-out look use a 26" bent springer fork. The steering tube on a 26" straight or bent springer fork is 7.5" long which is more than enough length for most cruiser bicycle frame head tubes.
This is the set of components that allow the rider to drive the beach cruiser forwards. It is made up of; the crankset, bottom bracket, sprocket, pedals, chain and rear hub. Some beach cruisers have gears. Some do not.
- Crank sets can vary in length to accommodate different sized riders, chain rings and bolts that are attached to the bicycle drivetrain. The cranks are constructed of either an aluminium alloy, titanium, carbon fibre, chromo steel or less expensive (but weaker and heavier) steel.
- Chains can be far from ordinary. It is possible to buy glittering chains in gold colours or gold and red.
- Chain guards are another distinguishing feature of the cruiser. They are available in chrome or matt finish ready for spraying to match the frame’s paintwork. They include 2 screws and are 21" total length, 16 1/2" from centre of the rear mounting hole to the front mounting hole.
- Sprockets can also be called chain wheels. A common size for cruiser bicycles with 24" or 26" wheels is a sprocket with 44 teeth.
- Pedals To add extra personality to the bike, it is possible to buy from a range which includes customised bird cage pedals, twisted grip pedals, block pedals with more grip and stability, barefoot pedals and ace of spades shaped pedals
- Single speed gears The quintessential cruiser has no gears and features a traditional coaster brake. The absence of gears or hand brakes on single speeds results in a clean classic look - perfect for shorter leisure rides, rides along the beach, your neighbourhood, or to the shops.
- Multi-Speed gears: The derailleur allows for seven or six different gear ratios, with first gear offering the least resistance and the higher gears used when greater speed is wanted while riding on flat even surfaces.
- Three speed gears are contained in a rear hub, so all the cogs and lubricants are sealed from the elements. They also impart a much cleaner vintage look.
You can buy complete cruiser bike wheel kits made up of front wheel, coaster wheel, which has an internal pedal-activated hub brake, tubes, rim strips and tyres. High specification wheels are also available with aluminium rims and stainless steel spokes. Many 26 inch wheels for town bikes can also be used with cruisers, widening the options.
- Tyres Tyres with the authentic look can be obtained from cruiser bike manufacturers such as Electra and Ridelow as well as from tyre specialists such as Schwalbe. Some echo the original 1930’s balloon tyres. Others have the traditional American white-walled look.
- Mudguards More properly called fenders; these come in classic or ducktail styles that wrap half way around the top side of the rear tyre, and one quarter around the front tyre. Fenders usually fit over tyres sizes 24" x 2.125 or 26" x 2.125.
- Mudflaps As well as ensuring wheels do not get clogged up with dirt, they are also a quirky looking, easily fitted accessory.
- Handlebars should be a comfortable fit for the body with a stylish look. There is a wide range of shapes and sizes. The most popular brand is Electra. They offer designs ranging from the classic old school handlebar to the outlaw hanger to the bullhorn.
- Headsets are distinguishable by the way the bearings are held in place whether it is with a lock nut, clamping stem or whether they are on the inside or outside of the head tube.
- Stems are an added stable platform able to withstand heavy weight and are usually made from a solid metal alloy such as chromoly so that they can take some abuse.
The bike seat can play a big role in customising a cruiser to individual tastes with quirky covers designs, extra padded seats, internally sprung seats, twisted seat trims or vintage leather.Seat posts are provided together with seat clamps to ensure that the bike seat is fitted securely and correctly. Choose posts and clamps that can add personality or go for something simple and easy to fit. Posts for cruiser frames are usually 1 inch (25.4mm) or larger. There are also solid pipe, suspension-style seat posts which help to neutralise bumps.
A classic single-speed cruiser features a traditional coaster brake.
Sometimes referred to as a foot brake or back pedal brake, this is a type of drum brake integrated into the rear hub with an internal freewheel. It can freewheel like a multi-speed but when back-pedalled, the brake engages after a fraction of a revolution.
Beach cruisers are a tempting alternative because of their looks. Your clever choice of accessories will personalise the look of your cruiser. Indeed the cruiser is incomplete without some of the following:
- Baskets are a practical accessory and will also transform the look of the bike. Add period romance with a wicker basket or choose from fashionable modern shopping carriers.
- Bags can also be chosen to suit personal tastes and uses. They come with adjustable straps so that you can easily attach them to the handlebars or the back of the saddle.
- Horns can be found in gold and silver versions, including retro bugle horn or funky gold air horn.
- Mirrors are not only an appealing accessory, but also an extra safety measure. All mirrors will attach easily using a ball and socket joint that comes pre-attached to the arm of the mirror.
- Cup Holders are the perfect accessory when stopping at the take-away or coffee stall.
How to Buy Replacement Parts for a Cruiser on eBay
Now that you've worked out which Parts for your cruiser you want, find them quickly on eBay. While you shop, don't forget Handlebars & Stems, Tyres & Wheels, Headsets, Saddles & Seatposts, Drive and Brake Components. To start shopping, go to the Sports and Leisure category. Click the Sporting Goods portal and click Cycling.
The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for Bikes, Bike Parts, Clothing, Footwear & Helmets, Cycling Accessories, Trophies and Other Cycling. As you refine your search you'll be able to narrow down your choice by subcategory.
Use the Cruiser Parts Finder to quickly narrow down item listings by type of tyre, brand, model and condition (new or used).
Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find cruiser parts, type the keywords “cruiser parts" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.
If you can't find exactly what you want, try browsing eBay Stores or tell the eBay Community what you’re looking for by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a matching item becomes available.
Buy Cruiser Parts with Confidence
Make sure that you know exactly what you’re buying and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.
Know your item
Read the details in the item listing carefully.
Remember to add delivery costs to your final price. If you’re buying a high value item, check that the seller will insure it until it is delivered to you.
If you want more information, click the “Ask seller a question” button on the seller’s profile or the “Ask a question” link at the bottom of the item listing page.
Always complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy it Now or Best Offer) otherwise you will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.
Never pay for your eBay item using an instant cash wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. These are not safe ways of paying someone you do not know.
Know your seller
Research your seller so that you feel safe and positive about every transaction.
- What is the seller’s Feedback rating?
- How many transactions have they completed?
- How many positive responses do they have?
- What do buyers say in their Feedback?
- Are they positive about the seller?
Most top eBay sellers operate like retail shops and have a returns policy.
- Do they offer a money-back guarantee?
- What are their terms and conditions?
In the very unlikely event that you do not receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection your purchase price plus original delivery cost.
For the smoothest and trendiest way for both men and to get around beach or town, think about the cruiser bike alternative. With a cruiser customised to one’s personal taste with host of striking cruiser parts and accessories, popping into the local coffee shop or picking up groceries becomes a whole different and fun experience.