Cruiser Bikes have provided fun and practical use for centuries. They have a long stemmed tradition and popularity among both children and adults. Bikes date back
to the early 19th century. Most Bikes of that time were not widely used as they were deemed unsafe. Mostly men used them merely for recreation at that time. After much trial and error, John Kemp Starley produced the Sports Bikes known as the “Rover” in 1885. His modifications revolutionized Bikes then and formed the basis for the ones we use today. By the early 20th century Bikes had become not only a main form of transportation, but also a form of recreation for both men and women. Biking clubs opened across the US and Europe. During the Second World War factories halted Bikes production and were used to produce items for wartime. This coupled with the great depression made cycling seem like a luxury most could not afford. After the war, Schwinn reinvented the cruiser Bikes by styling it after the popular motorcycles of the time. Schwinn targeted this new styling towards the youth market. Creating an almost exact replica with faux gas tank, balloon tires, and battery operated headlight, the only thing missing was the motor. Once cruiser Bikes gained in popularity, themed Bikes were introduced. Cruisers styled after celebrity figures such as Gene Autry became popular. Accessories included gun holsters, fringe and special colors and pin striping. The Huffy Radio cruiser even had an AM Radio built in to the oversized top tube, perfect for entertainment on the go!
The allure of cruiser Bikes declined from the 60’s to early 70’s with the arrival of BMX and ten speed Bikes. Cruisers are known for their comfort and relaxed styling, but avid riders wanted something more practical. Long distance and speed became a factor and cruisers just weren’t cutting it. Cruisers were now becoming a Bikes simply for recreation and utility use. In 1976 Recycled Cycles in Newport Beach coined the term “Beach Cruiser”. This trademark term helped spark renewed interest in the classic Bikes. Beach cruisers quickly became a practical and preferred method of transportation for beach bums and surfers.
In the 1970’s and 80’s mountain biking became a popular sport. Trying to find the best Bikes to hold up to speed and rough terrain, riders turned to cruisers for inspiration. They found the balloon tires held up to the speed and harsh landscape they traversed during their runs. Today mountain Bikes still possess characteristics and adapted tires styled from classic cruisers.
In the past decade modifications of the classic beach cruiser can be seen in low rider Bikes styled after the low rider cars, and chopper style Bikes styled after the classic West Coast chopper Bikes complete with ‘ape hanger’ handle bar.
Today, cruiser Bikes have gained a renewed interest due to many manufacturers’ vintage styling of the classic cruisers of the 40’s and 50’s. Many Generation Xers have an appeal to this style as it reminds them of their youth and the fun they had as a child. Multiple speed cruisers also make longer distance riding more accessible without the cost of a road Bikes. Beach cruisers can be seen on any California beach being used by surfers and tourists alike. Of the many manufacturers of Bikes today all have at least one cruiser in their line to offer, if not several to choose from.