Are Cruiser Bikes Good for Hills?

Classic cruiser bikes are built to ride through flat terrains like paved roads. Its basic components are specialized to provide comfortable rides on more relaxed surfaces. Due to this, classic cruiser bikes aren’t really the best bike type to use when going through rough terrains like steep hills.

Although classic cruiser bikes aren’t the type of bicycle you should use when coursing through hills, they can be modified to fit rougher paths. In fact, by changing some components of the cruiser bike, you will empower it to suit a rougher road type. Cruiser bikes with at least three-speed gearing are powerful enough to ride through hills. 

In addition to the multi-speed gearing system, the material used for the bike’s frame is also essential to make it capable on a hilly track. The bike brakes and other accessories are essential and should not be taken lightly. They should also be taken into account as they give the cruiser bike more strength, and they also make sure that the cruiser bike rider is secured. 

Features of a Cruiser Bike to Consider When Climbing Hills

Credits to: @alvannee

Customizability is one property of a cruiser bike that makes it sellable. Modern bikes usually are modifiable, meaning they are built to be upgraded in the future. For bikers who regularly seek thrill on different routes and roads, the customizability of the bike is something they expect with bikes. 

By simply changing and upgrading some of its components, the bike would be great for a route it usually doesn’t take. Below are some of the features that can be altered in a cruiser bike to help it better in riding through hilly tracks.

1. Multi-Speed Gearing

Knowing the right amount of gear you need in a bike for a particular track is crucial. The number of gears determines the comfort in pedaling and speed of the cruiser bike. The gears used in casual city rides are different from the number of gears used when riding through unpaved roads. You can use cruiser bikes when coursing through hills as long as it has at least a three-speed gearing system.

To explain, the gear system helps the biker shift so that they can speed up or speed down depending on the need of the bike. 

For example, if a biker feels his pedaling is too slow and heavy when using a three-speed gear system, he can downshift to the first gear. First gear moves the bike a shorter distance on every spin of the pedals. It makes the biker’s pacing better when climbing up hills. 

When you feel too eased on pedaling, you can upshift to second gear to feel more resistance. Having at least three-speed gears in cruiser bikes gives you the power to drive through steep roads such as hills. By shifting through first gear, second gear, and third gear, you can gain more control of your ascend and descend. 

In addition to this, three-speed gears in bikes do not have derailleurs. A derailleur is a component primarily found in multi-speed gear bikes. This allows the bike chains to move from one sprocket to another. Since three-speed gearing does not require this mechanism, the bike requires less maintenance and is guarded with a chain guard. This furthermore ensures that the bike chain will be kept from elements that could harm it, such as dirt, mud, and rain.

The seven-speed gear system is as helpful as the three-speed gearing. The only difference is that the seven-speed gear system offers more complexity and can ride through more tricky terrains. 

The main goal of higher speed gear is to allow the cruiser bike to adapt better to conditions that have inclined, bumpy, and challenging tracks. When using a seven-speed gear system, the lower gears ease pedaling. In comparison, the higher gears help gain better pacing when going downhill. 

Most professional bikers use seven-speed gearing in their bikes because of the intricacy and service it offers. Additionally, the seven-speed gear allows gear shift only on the go. This is the best speed gearing system since professional bikers are always on the run, especially in competition.

Seven-speed gearing uses a derailleur. This is why some bikes with a seven-speed gear system do not have chain guards. Some still have chain guards, but they are specialized and are often more expensive. Because of the derailleur, seven-speed gear bikes are relatively more maintenance. Its chain is often exposed. The entire mechanism is prone to elements that can harm it, especially rough roads. Furthermore, when the chain system breaks, the entire bike has to be brought to a mechanic to get it fixed.

2. Light Steel Frame Material

The weight of a bike contributes a lot to the ease of a biker’s riding experience. The lighter the bike is, the better maneuver the biker can do with his bike. For bikers that tackle challenging terrain, it is essential to have complete control of their bikes. It is definitely a plus if their bike is lightweight and can withstand their activity.

Cruiser bike frames are typically made from steel material. The bike weighs around 50 lbs. (22 kg.) with this material. That is the same weight as a fast-setting concrete mix. This is not ideal, especially when climbing hills. Gravity becomes more potent on higher altitudes making it more challenging to maneuver heavier stuff. 

This is the reason why bikes need to be adjusted to be lighter. Modern cruiser bikes used to climb hilly terrains use light steel frame materials such as aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, and titanium. These lightweight bike frame materials are not only light. Still, they are also as reliable as the heavier steel materials in terms of strength. 

Another advantage in using the provided lighter version of steel materials is that they do not rust. They have a longer lifespan than most steel materials available in the market. Although what comes with these beneficial properties is that they can be a bit expensive.

The most used bike frame material when riding through hills is aluminum. This material is known for being corrosion resistant. This material is also responsive to your movements. Aside from that, compared to carbon fiber and titanium, aluminum is relatively more affordable. What’s tricky about aluminum because it easily fatigues over time, making its repair delicate. 

3. Dual Suspension

A bike with a suspension system on both front and rear portions is called a dual suspension. The dual suspension is also referred to as full suspension. It consists of a suspension fork at the front of the bike and a rear shock at the back. In this setup, you are given better control on both uphill and downhill tracks. Additionally, bikes can better withstand technical descents.

The dual suspension’s main selling point is that it allows the front and rear parts of the bike to fully absorb impacts. This might sound harsh, but it makes the impact absorption equal on all bike parts. 

If a bike has a strong frame, this is beneficial as it lessens the wearing down of a specific part of a bike. Another advantage of using dual suspensions is significantly more comfortable than their other counterparts. On long rides, the dual suspension offers more comfort as well. It also offers better braking power to the biker.

Although dual-suspension offers better performance and safety, it can be more expensive than other suspension systems. Also, since it covers the front and rear portions of the bike, it can be heavier. In connection to that, dual suspension can cost more for its maintenance.

4. Specialized Tires

A performing bike is not complete without a great pair of tires. There are a lot of varieties of bike wheels that you can choose from. Each is specialized either for its speed, for its weight, for its road grip, or for its ease of maintenance. In climbing up and down hills, tires used for paved roads are not enough to support the biker. It has to be specialized for the terrain.

Like bike frames, the bike tires to be used for hilly tracks should be lightweight but durable for the roughness of the ride. Among all the other components of a bike, the tires are more in contact with the terrain’s surface. They receive more harshness and, therefore, should be more durable.

Aside from being lightweight and durable, the bike’s tires should have a good road grip. This is specifically beneficial on ascents. Since gravity pulls everything closer to the flat ground, having tires that can grip a surface better will offer better resistance to the Earth’s downward pull. 

Are Cruiser Bikes Great for Trails?

Traditional cruiser bikes are best used on light trails. In fact, traditional cruiser bikes can handle the roughness of most dirt and gravel roads. However, it is not usually advised to use traditional cruiser bikes for off-road trails. It can heavily damage the bike to the point that it is beyond repair. 

One of the other reasons traditional cruiser bikes are not best used on trails is that they have different sitting positions. Its geometric build is different compared to road bikes and mountain bikes. 

Another is that traditional cruiser bikes’ components are made for relaxed riding and are less durable to rough rides. Although not mainly designed for trails, cruiser bikes can be modified to endure the roughness of trails. In fact, by changing some components and upgrading gears, they can withstand the most tricky road types.

4 Best Cruiser Bikes for Hills

Modern cruiser bikes are built to cater to a more complex riding experience. These modern cruiser bikes can endure more impact than traditional cruiser bikes. Additionally, they have more intricate components that are often considered hybrid builds. Below are some of the modern cruiser bikes that can ride on hills.

1. Sixthreezero 26 Inch Around the Block 7-Speed Men’s Beach Cruiser Bicycle

The Sixthreezero, 26 Inch Around the Block 7-Speed Men’s Beach Cruiser Bicycle is built mainly to be low-maintenance and provide comfort to the biker. It has an ergonomic steel frame and front and rear V-brake system.

It is a customizable model, ideal for bikers who like regular bike upgrades. The tires used for this model are semi-slick and can handle rough roads. It also gives the biker increased control because of its extra surface area. This model has a 21-speed gear variation as well.

2. Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Brighton 7-Speed Cruiser

Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Brighton 7-Speed Cruiser

The Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Brighton 7-Speed Cruiser was designed not only for beach biking but also for climbing terrains. Its Shimano Acera 7-Speed Drivetrain with mega range freewheel enables the bike to be reliable in ascents while easy to maneuver.

The bike frame of this model is made from pure alloy to promote lightweight. It also has a specialized frame geometry to comfort the biker on different riding poses. Additionally, it has a pair of wide cruiser tires that can fit all types of terrains.

3. Sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women’s 3-Speed Step-Through Hybrid Cruiser Bicycle

Sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women's 3-Speed Step-Through Hybrid Cruiser Bicycle

The Sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women’s 3-Speed Step-Through Hybrid Cruiser Bicycle is built with a lightweight aluminum frame. It also has front and rear hand brakes to give more control to the stopping power of the biker.

This cruiser bike model uses two-inch semi-slick tires that give excellent roll and stable rides. Like most Sixthreezero cruiser bike models, this model is also fully customizable.

4. Electra Bikes Straight 8 3i 3-Speed Cruiser Bike

Electra Bikes Straight 8 3i 3-Speed Cruiser Bike

The Electra Bikes Straight 8 3i 3-Speed Cruiser Bike is built with Electra Hydroformed 6061-T6 Alloy Flatfoot Technology frame. It has a front disc brake and a coaster rear brake. The model also uses 3-inch Fatti-O tires wider than most cruiser bike tires. Its Shimano Nexus Inter3 internally geared 3-speed hub also provides more controlled rides.