You can hit the dirt tracks on your mountain bike, pull stunts on your BMX, or burn the tarmac on your road racer.
But sometimes…you just want a leisurely ride!
The best cruiser bikes are the ultimate bicycles for relaxed cycling—providing perhaps the most comfortable experience on two wheels.
The Top 5 Best Cruiser Bikes
What Is a Cruiser Bike?
Also known as a beach bike, a cruiser is an easy-to-ride cycle that’s impressively stable, forgiving on the back and butt, easily customizable and often incorporating expressive styling.
I’ll be honest.
If you plan to take on some intense rough terrain, or want to power at high-speeds through some challenging country bends—a cruiser bike isn’t for you.
However, if you want an easy-rider to take you to the store, travel along a beach-side promenade, or enjoy relaxing rides with family—you can’t beat them.
Let me give you some quick background.
These bikes first hit the roads back in the 1930s with the Schwinn World B10E. This was a pedal-powered two-wheeler that the manufacturers designed to look like a motorbike—including a fake gas tank.
Cruiser cycles remained popular until the late 1950s—until imported, faster and lighter-weight bikes began to dominate the market. However, a resurgence in popularity in the 1990s meant a whole new generation of riders could enjoy these cycles.
Today, virtually all the major manufacturers have at least one cruiser bike in their range.
Features of a Cruiser Bike
The best cruiser bikes are straightforward in design, comfortable, and affordable.
Typically incorporating a steel frame, their raised, wide and swept-back handlebars provide an upright riding position—almost as if you’re sitting on a chair.
Ok, you're not going to break any speed records in this posture. But, it’s seriously easy on your spine and provides incredible visibility. This is excellent for traffic awareness, keeping a watchful eye on younger cyclists, or just to take in the scenery around you.
These bikes increase comfort by usually incorporating an oversized and heavily-padded seat—allowing you to spend hours in the saddle without incurring the all-too-familiar rear-end pain.
It’s perhaps the tires that are the most significant.
A key feature of the best cruiser bikes is that they have balloon tires. These are large in volume, wide, and usually set at a low pressure. This increase in the surface area raises stability—making them ideal for novice riders—and works as shock absorbers to take out the discomfort of bumps and lumps in the road.
Finally, these rider-friendly cycles either include, or have the facility to retrofit, numerous accessories and adaptations.
Because manufacturers don’t design these bikes for speed—being incredibly lightweight isn’t of primary importance. Hence, they often include fenders, luggage racks, saddlebags and chain guards.
Who Should Use a Cruiser Bike?
The best cruiser bikes are perfect for:
- Novice riders.
- Cyclists who aren’t interested in speed.
- Sufferers of back pain or hand fatigue.
- Family riders.
- People who enjoy simplicity.
- Someone who’s looking for a vacation bike.
- Bikers who need to carry panniers.
- Tourist riders.
- Those wanting an easy-to-maintain cycle.
How to Choose the Best Cruiser Bikes
While the characteristics I mentioned above make them distinct from other cycles such as mountain bikes or road racers—there are particular differences between even the best cruiser bikes.
Here are the main points you should consider when selecting the ideal two-wheeler for your requirements.
There’s often little choice in frame materials—virtually always being steel.
However, the frame form can differ. Many are of the step-through variety—allowing you to mount the cycle without having to swing your leg over the top.
In an effort to keep these cycles as simple as possible—most commonly, these bikes don’t include lever brakes.
Instead, they have coaster brakes—which either slow the cycle or bring to a stop by back-pedaling.
While this promotes a clean look, lowers weight, and prevents accidents with snagging-prone cables—it may initially seem a little strange to riders accustomed to caliper brakes.
However, bikes with additional gears often include front and/or rear handbrakes.
Another aspect that makes the best cruiser bikes uncomplicated.
Most frequently, the basic versions only have one gear. This means you don’t have to worry about shifting up and down—you just ride. Furthermore, it keeps the weight of the machine to a minimum. Plus, there’s one less feature to go wrong, and doesn’t require frequent maintenance.
However, if you live or enjoy riding in an area with undulating terrain—you may consider additional gears a necessity. Multi-gear varieties do exist—usually having three or more speeds.
From personal experience, I know the headaches that a rear-wheel splashing water all over your daughter's face can cause. So I’d suggest, at the very least, look for a bike that incorporates fenders.
Over and above that, it's up to you.
Remember, manufacturers design these bikes to be customizable. So, you don’t have to purchase a cycle with all the bells and whistles from the get-go—you can add what you need—when you need it.
However, for example, if you know you need your cycle to be suitable for wet-weather riding or grocery store trips—factory-installed additions such as fenders or a front basket may appeal.
The Top 5 Best Cruiser Bikes
Down to the meat!
After examining industry expert opinion, customer feedback, and my own knowledge and experience—I’ve found the best cruiser bikes currently available.
Weight: 46 pounds.
Frame size: 18-inch.
Wheel size: 26-inch.
If you want a traditional cruiser that incorporates the best features of the niche, but with modern aesthetics, this could be the ideal two-wheeler.
Available in either striking matt black or bold orange, the step-over top bar retains the curves of the classic cycles—yet with a lower profile—giving an almost ‘mean’ appearance.
While the standard version has just one gear—if you need more, I’d say you’ll welcome the optional choice of a 3, 7 or 21-speed drivetrain.
If you’re a taller cyclist or enjoy a laid-back riding position, the pedal position may be appealing. Placed significantly forward from the saddle perpendicular—this allows plenty of comfortable room for the longer-legged rider—and promotes a casual reclining biking posture.
Comfort is taken care of by the 26-inch balloon tires and an extra-wide comfort saddle to lower butt fatigue. Furthermore, the latter includes dual springs to absorb pleasure-reducing bumps in the road.
The manufacturer has specifically crafted the crank to allow you to smoothly traverse all the surfaces you should encounter—be that boardwalks, sidewalks, paved areas or hard-packed dirt. Furthermore, stopping should be effortless with the simple coaster brake (lever brakes on the seven and 21-speed option).
- A traditional cycle with a truly modern aesthetic.
- Includes rear, front and pedal reflectors.
- No cables or complicated gear systems.
- Curved handlebars to fit your natural contours.
- Fatigue-reducing cushioned hand grips.
- Suitable for riders from 5-feet, 4-inches through to 6-feet, 4-inches.
- Full chain guard to prevent snagging of clothes or laces.
- Forward-located pedals for a relaxing riding position.
- Extra-wide seat to prevent next-day buttock pain.
- Minimalist design—no attention-grabbing decals, flashing or paintwork.
- Lacks fenders—although it has mounts to retrofit.
- A premium price for a premium cycle.
Weight: 38 pounds.
Frame size: 15-inch.
Wheel size: 24-inch, 26-inch.
Many cycles today are unisex. However, should you want a machine with a truly feminine aesthetic—this could be one of the best cruiser bikes.
A slightly lowered top bar makes it easier to make a step-through mount—useful if you’re wearing a summer dress or skirt. Furthermore, a choice of 21 colors (including the unusual chrome)—means you can pick the cycle which suits your personal styling—and select a contrasting saddle hue should you wish.
The coaster brake means there are no cables in which you can become entangled. In addition, the chain incorporates a full guard to prevent undesirable snagging.
Should you wish to up the ante—you can forgo the single gear and opt for a 3, 7 or 21-speed instead.
Speaking of options—there are a couple of helpful accessories. The manufacturer allows you to choose factory-fitted fenders and a bell—both of which are color-coded to match the cycle frame.
If you’re a more substantial rider—or will be loading your cycle with panniers and bags for some weekend touring—you could appreciate the 300-pound weight capacity provided by this cycle.
- Balloon tires have classic white-walling accents.
- Comfortable—includes an oversized seat with dual springs and wide handlebars with cushioned rubber grips.
- Includes front, rear, wheel and pedal reflectors.
- Color-matched fenders and a bell are available as optional extras.
- Suitable for riders from five feet to six feet tall.
- Choose single-speed or 3, 7 or 21 gears.
- Arrives 80 percent assembled.
- Wide 2.125-inch tires for added stability and shock absorption.
- Seven and 21-speed cycles incorporate front and rear handbrakes.
- An upright riding position for comfort.
- Requires tools in addition to the included wrench to assemble.
- Hand grips, although comfortable, aren’t hard-wearing—they may need replacing if you use the bike extensively.
Weight: 48.6 pounds.
Frame size: 18-inch.
Wheel size: 20, 24 and 26-inch.
If you’re dreaming of relaxing summer-evening rides along the promenade—it’s my belief this is one of the best cruiser bikes for you.
This isn’t a bike for the reserved. With eye-catching frame and chain decals, tire sun stripes, and handgrip and seat flashing—you’re going to stand out from the crowd.
Available in both step-over and step-through options—the aluminum frame offers a lighter cycle than most cruisers. Meaning if you’re looking for a little more speed, or struggle to handle a heavier machine, this could appeal.
The single-speed version has a coaster brake—or you can select a Shimano seven-speed with front and rear handbrakes.
And, when you want to take a well-deserved break from your beach-front travels, I believe you’ll love the accessories. This cycle includes a front-mounted cooler bag (detachable), beverage holder, color-coded rear rack and even a bottle opener. The only downside is that they add some substantial weight.
Then, should the weather take a turn for the worst, other riding companions and your clothes will welcome the inclusion of both front and rear fenders.
The bike saddle is set back—delivering a more upright riding posture and allowing you to extend your legs for the most comfortable cruise. Furthermore, the ergonomically designed seat and soft cork hand grips mean less fatigue on your more delicate areas.
- Complete with a manufacturer's 10-year frame guarantee.
- Swept-back handlebar design to reduce fatigue in the neck, wrist, hands and arms.
- Palm-tree illustrations provide a true vacation and leisurely feel.
- Dual spring and heavily-padded seat.
- Unique inclusion of a bottle opener on the front fork—ideal for a well-deserved cold one.
- Wide 2.125-inch tires.
- Splash resistant fenders.
- Involves compromise—a lightweight aluminum cycle but made heavier by all the accessories.
- It can be a little challenging to assemble.
Weight: 44.1 pounds.
Frame size: 18-inch.
Wheel size: 26-inch.
Schwinn started the cruising revolution over 90 years ago—and they’re still making these leisure-loving cycles.
I’d suggest that this is an excellent choice for riders who know they’re going to be tackling some hefty inclines in their excursions. As standard, it includes a 7-speed Shimano derailleur with SRAM hand shifters—meaning you can make light work of those hills—without removing your grip on the bars.
And when going downhill, you’re going to be in full control. This cruiser bike has both front and rear pull brakes—enabling you to adjust your descent speed to comfortable levels.
The steel frame with dark red paintwork and heavily-curved design harks back to the original cruiser bikes of old. However, made with modern materials and methods—the manufacturer backs this bike with a lifetime guarantee.
If you need the ability for carriage—such as loading work documents for your commute, or clothing, maps and food for weekend tours—you will probably appreciate the color-coded rear cargo rack.
Additionally, front and rear fenders prevent dirt and debris from spoiling your business or vacation clothes.
- Suitable for riders from five feet four inches to six feet two inches.
- Aluminum wheel rims to reduce bicycle weight.
- Heavily padded dual-spring saddle to elevate comfort.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Comes from one of the oldest and most respected bike manufacturers.
- Twist shifters to power the seven-speed drivetrain.
- White-walled tires provide a classic aesthetic.
- The saddle is enhanced with decorative stitching.
- Choice of both a step-over and step-through frame.
- Includes a kickstand.
- The manufacturer hasn’t secured the cables within the frame—so may be liable to snagging.
- Only available in one color.
- Lacks wheel and rear and front reflectors—although it does include them in the pedals.
Weight: 39 pounds.
Frame size: 14-inch.
Wheel size: 24-inch.
If you’re something of a cycling purist—and want to take things back to basics—this could be one of the best cruiser bikes.
Available at a budget-friendly price—this cycle has no time for fancy gears or braking methods. It’s a true cruiser.
The step-through steel frame allows for easy mounting and dismounting. With a seriously low-drop top bar—I’d suggest this would be excellent for riders with restricted leg mobility.
The bike includes a coaster brake—hence there are no cables or hand levers to destroy the simple aesthetic of this cycle. Furthermore, you don’t have to be concerned about switching gears. As a single speed bike, you just pedal and go—allowing you to enjoy your cycling journeys and surroundings much more.
The manufacturer hasn’t loaded it with accessories, but still includes the essentials—front and rear fenders and a rear cargo rack.
More reserved riders can select the navy-blue frame coloring accented with brown-trimmed rims, hand grips and saddle stitching. Those who want to make more of an impact cruising down the boulevard can opt for a bright blue frame enhanced by shocking pink trim.
- A back-to-basics cruiser cycle at an affordable price.
- Respected manufacturer.
- Large and high-positioned sweep-back handlebars.
- Heavily padded saddle for comfortable riding.
- Includes a rack to carry cargo and add panniers should you wish.
- Colored wheel rims.
- Comes complete with full-wrap front and rear fenders.
- Choice of two color styles.
- A full chain guard will prevent unwanted snagging or dislocation.
- Lacks front, rear and wheel reflectors.
- Some riders may find the high position of the handlebars unusual.
- Only one size of frame.
The Best Cruiser Bikes Conclusion
Extreme cycling has its place—but sometimes you just want to enjoy the ride—taking in your surroundings, spending time with friends and family, and just pedaling leisurely along.
And, that’s what the best cruiser bikes provide.
In my opinion, you’d find it hard to beat the sixthreezero In The Barrel cycle. With its classic curves enhanced by modern styling—you have a nostalgic bike with the advantages of current technology.
The steel frame provides durability, while the forward-located pedals allow for a laid-back posture.
What’s more, it’s adaptable.
If you want the basics, you can opt for a single-speed coaster-brake version. Alternatively, the more demanding riders can select a 21-speed bike with front and lever pull brakes.
However, for your personal needs, you might love the accessory-laden Panama Jack or the budget-friendly Schwinn Baywood.
But, for me, the bike delivering the utmost versatility combined with sleek looks, it has to be the sixthreezero In The Barrel cycle.