Are Cruiser Bikes Hard to Ride? [Plus Ways to Make Your Bike Easier to Ride]
Cruiser bikes are one of the popular types of bikes in the market today. Many adults find this bike easy because of its simplicity and comfortable maneuver. However, cruiser bikes can be hard to manage at times. One reason is that cruiser bikes can be pretty heavy compared to specialized bikes built to be lightweight.
Another reason for cruiser bikes to be hard to ride onto is that they are not mainly built to handle rugged terrains, such as steep hills. They would require the help of gears to manage such road types.
Nonetheless, cruiser bikes are ideal for individuals who commute to work. This bike is also excellent for people who love to exercise. Others find cruiser bikes easy because they offer stable rides and are geometrically equipped to provide ease of use.
With the said factors considered, are cruiser bikes hard to ride? The answer is not simple. It heavily depends on the build of the cruiser bike and where it will be used. It is easy to ride cruiser bikes if you ride them on a paved, flat surface. But it would be complicated to use cruiser bikes on tricky landscapes, especially without the aid of gears.
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Factors That Determine the Rideability of a Cruiser Bike
Certain specifications are required to say that a bicycle is a good catch. This preference is what the market uses to formulate its selling strategy. However, not all preferences are ideal.
For example, you prefer a thinner bike frame and tires, but you also want to cruise on rugged terrains where you will need a more durable set of wheels. This is where rideability factors come in. Below are some of the factors that you may consider when choosing the cruiser bike for you.
1. Frame Size and Shape
A bike’s fitting determines the comfort and stability of the biker. An adult biker’s ideal bike size is based on an adult sizing chart. For kids, of course, it uses a sizing chart for children.
To put it simply, the bike’s frame size and shape determine whether a person can ride on it comfortably. The bike frame’s size should not cause unnecessary crouches and let you have enough space for your body, especially your legs, to move.
When it comes to frame size, men’s cruiser bikes are partially different from women’s. Also, adult size is different from kid’s size. Women’s bikes usually are smaller than men’s bikes. This is to suit the average woman’s build better.
Generally, women are shorter than men. That’s why the bike frame’s stack height has to be sized based on the mean size for a specific group. The stack height is the vertical distance from the center of the bottom bracket of the frame to the top of the head tube. Since women have shorter torsos on average, bicycles normally have a shorter reach.
The frame shape is also a determinant. Cruiser bike frames for women generally have a low-step feature. This is also called a step-through or open frame. The bike typically has a step-over frame or a crossbar in bike frames for men.
Moreover, women’s bike frames have sloped top tubes. The main reason behind this difference in the design is women’s comfort who wear skirts when riding bikes. It would be more comfortable and safer for them if their clothing would not hinder their movements.
2. Saddle Height
The distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the saddle’s center is called the saddle height. Having the right saddle height for your bike is a factor in being rideable. This determines your pedaling efficiency and comfort as a biker. Additionally, setting up the correct saddle height for you will help avoid injury.
Like the frame size and shape, the saddle height varies depending on who uses the bike. Cruiser bikes specific for women’s use have shorter and broader saddles. This is because women have wider pelvic bones compared to men.
You know that you need the appropriate saddle height to reach the pedal on its whole rotation. This is without having to uncomfortably extend your legs just to pedal the bike to motion. Encountering pain at the front of the knee when pedaling indicates that the saddle needs to be raised. And when the pain is at the back of the knee, it means that the saddle has to be lowered.
Saddle height can be determined more technically. Some use the heel-to-pedal method. You will have to sit on the bike and pedal backward. The biker’s knees should be completely straight while pedaling in this method. If your knees are still bent, the saddle height should be increased.
3. Saddle Angle
The saddle angle is the amount of tilt you set your saddle up. Some prefer a leveled saddle angle. This means that the saddle is even with the ground. While others prefer an angled saddle. This mainly depends on your comfort and preference.
Tilting the saddle can help you to have a more comfortable riding experience. Angling the saddle forward is ideal for those aiming for good speed with their bike. This angle will give you more legroom and more reach to the pedal. Furthermore, this allows for more pedal rotation.
Angling the saddle down is recommended if you love to go on uphill terrains. This saddle angle will give you more power and control over the bike’s movements. Additionally, it helps with countering the gravity with your leg strength.
To adjust the saddle angle, you have to loosen the nuts under the saddle using a wrench. From there, you will be able to tilt the saddle forwards or backward. Once the desired angle has been achieved, just retighten the nuts using the wrench.
4. Saddle Width
Saddle width is the measurement of the saddle seat. This contributes to the comfort that a bike can give. The saddle width can be widened or narrowed depending on where the bike will be used and who will use it.
Wider saddle width helps provide more comfort, especially to female bikers. This is ideal for long, casual rides. Wide saddles are also ideal for an upright riding position. Narrow saddle width helps in gaining speed. This also prevents the saddle from interfering with the biker’s movement, especially in the thigh.
To determine the correct saddle width for you, you should first know what fits your ischial tuberosities or sit bones. Without the proper measurement of the sit bones, you may feel numbness and pinching pain on your sit bone area. You know that you have the correct saddle width if you do not notice it existing when you ride the bike.
5. Handlebars and Grips
Bike handlebars and grips contribute to the bike’s performance. They are small bike components, and some take them for granted. But determining the correct piece is equally essential.
Handlebars are recommended to be of the same level as the bike’s seat. Although some prefer it to be a bit higher to allow an upright position while riding. Lower handlebars can sometimes cause discomfort. This will cause you to be pushed towards the handlebar’s height. It also stresses specific body parts such as arms, wrists, neck, and back.
Grips are normally textured. They can be soft, hard, tacky, leathery, smooth, or a combination of these. Some grips are standardized and can fit any handlebar. However, some bike handlebars are custom and personalized. Only custom-made grips can fit them.
Finding the right texture for the bike grip is essential. This will determine how much control you have when maneuvering the bike’s direction. If you have sweaty palms, you can slip on certain grip textures. This can lead to injury.
Aside from the texture, the grip’s thickness should also be considered. The thickness is determined by the hand size of the biker. A larger hand size can handle ticker grips. Grips that are too thin can cause you to grip too hard. It can sometimes cause a burning sensation when prolonged. On the other hand, Thick grips may cause a harder grasp on it. Furthermore, this can hinder your control over the bike’s movement.
There are a lot of tires available in the market today. Some are built to be thin, some are thick. Others have more texture, while some have a smoother surface. To find the right tires for you, you should first know what these tire types can do and what can benefit you the most.
Narrow tires are ideal for their lightness. Furthermore, these tires can roll faster than regular-sized and thick-sized wheels. Some just find narrow tires better looking. In using a narrow tire set, you should understand that they are normally not as durable as the thicker ones.
You should first find out if the tires can support your rides. To do so, you should measure the insides of your tire’s rim and see if the narrow tires can accommodate the width.
Thicker or broader tires are recommended for a more comfortable riding experience. Moreover, this type of tire is best for a better road grip. You need to ensure that your bike can accommodate its width. It is generally more challenging to install wider tires on cruiser bikes, but it is definitely doable.
Ways to Make Your Cruiser Bike Easier to Ride
Even after choosing the optimal components for your bike, you still need to make other tunings to have a better riding experience. After you use your bike for the first time, some parts are not in the same position or state as they used to be.
To maintain the rideability of your bike, you need to make adjustments every once in a while. Below are some of the ways you need to consider making your cruiser bike easier to ride.
1. Adjust or Reposition the Saddle
In your house, you have your couch to sit on every day. Every time you ride, your saddle is your seat in cruiser bikes changes. Adjusting it every now and then is essential because minimal changes happen every time you ride the bike. You may not notice it immediately, but it would be more evident once you feel discomfort. So prevent that discomfort and make it a habit to check your saddle.
If your saddle is too far back, it may cause you back pain, knee pain, numbness on the feet, and pain on the upper hamstring of your legs. If your saddle is too forward than recommended, it may cause you to strain your upper body a lot and put a lot of tension on your shoulders and arms. This pain brought by incorrect saddle position can stack up and cause more harmful physical effects in the long run.
You may prevent this pain from inappropriately adjusted saddles by tuning your saddle regularly. To do so, you just need to loosen the pinch bolt where the seat post slides into the bike’s frame. Then just twist the saddle to raise or lower it depending on your preference. Then just tighten the bolt again.
2. Align Brakes
Cruiser bike brakes need to be adjusted as well. You know that you need to check your brakes once you notice a delay when pressing your brake trigger. When this happens, you must act immediately because this may affect your safety if ignored.
On average, the brake pads of a bike should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles it travels. Although this still depends on how you use your bike and where you use it. The more tricky terrains you ride onto, the more you need to check your brakes.
3. Use Multi-Speed Bikes
The beauty of single-speed bikes is their simplicity. But if you are aiming for a versatile and more technical biking experience, you should consider investing in multi-speed bikes. For newbies, it is best to know if a multi-speed bike is good for you by trying out the three-speed gear bike first.
Multi-speed bikes give you an option to pedal easier. They also allow you to pedal less but cover more distance. If you cruise a lot off-road, multi-speed bikes will perform better and be much easier to handle than single-speed bikes.
4. Wear the Right Clothes
Even if you have the best bike, your biking experience will not be at ease if you’re not dressed up correctly. The perfect partner of a great bike is a biker best suited up for the activity. When biking, you should always consider wearing the optimal clothing. This will affect your comfort, aerodynamics, and overall energy use.
The clothes of cyclists are specialized so that they can be more aerodynamic. If you notice, they do not have excess fabric that can slow them down when opposing wind direction. Additionally, their clothes are designed to be fit but stretchable so that they can freely extend their legs and arms when maneuvering the bike.
The clothes to avoid when riding a bike are jeans, low-quality helmets, sleeveless tops, and loose garments that could get into your bike components. Wear comfortable, moisture-absorbent garments that can protect your body from external elements. This will ensure your ease while riding and help you avoid possible injuries.