COMBINING FUN AND EXERCISE: Finding the Perfect Beach Cruiser Bike by Hampton Rhodes

COMBINING FUN AND EXERCISE: Finding the Perfect Beach Cruiser Bike

On a recent vacation to the beautiful and peaceful Pawleys Island South Carolina with my extended family, I thought that renting a few bikes might add to our vacation enjoyment. I found a great rental company that offered bikes and kayaks by the day or the week, and contracted for a few beach cruiser bikes from pawleyskayaks.com.

Yes, the kayaks were grand, but all of our family discovered the joys of beach cruising on single-speed, no-frills bikes. What a joy to glide around the island, enjoying the views, taking in the fresh salt air and taking pictures of this pristine place! Well, I enjoyed beach cruising so much that I decided to get one for myself to enjoy some city cruising in my little hometown. So I did some research…

First – What is a Beach Cruiser Bike?

According to Wikipedia, “a cruiser bicycle, also known as a beach cruiser, is a bicycle that usually combines balloon tires, and upright seating posture, a single speed drive train and a straightforward steel construction with optional expressive styling.”

It’s this simple styling, and single speed drive that make these bikes so much fun – no worries about tire fenders, 20+ gears, hand brakes, competition tires, pumps, water bottles, tool kits, countless accessories, or any of that other paraphernalia including the proper spandex branded attire – heck, no! It’s all about being casual and enjoying the non-competitive ride!

So what I wanted was a simple bike – single speed, Men’s 26” or 29” (I’m 6 feet 4 inches tall), standard tire bike for cruising around my un-crowded, small-town, historic Southern neighborhood. A simple Google search turned up thousands of options, scores of manufacturers and just about any customization on could imagine. I reviewed my requirements and narrowed the potential suppliers down to the 5 sources that best suited my needs, and I came up with these:

Firmstrong.com

Firmstrong manufactures the highest quality beach cruiser bikes. Their mission is to design bikes that blend style and functionality, creating an experience for riders, not just a mode of transportation. They offer nationwide shipping from their Hermosa Beach, CA store, 1, 3 and 7 speed drive trains, 15 color combinations, 24” and 26” sizes, either hand or coaster brakes, and a prices ranging from $150 to upwards of $400.

SixThreeZero.com

SixThreeZero is based in Torrance, CA just off the 110 Freeway. They offer the same basic options as my needs required with a wider offering for customization, and, 630 had a lot of great advice and FAQs on their website that spoke to people like me – novices – without too much of an attitude. Because, let’s face it – I want to buy a bike, not join a club!

Bikesdirect.com

Over 15 years ago, Dr. Mike Spratt, then a college professor, decided to combine his interest in bicycles, computers, and the internet into bikesdirect. Since then, over 100,000 cyclists have chosen to save on high-grade bikes by purchasing from bikesdirect. The model of low-cost, high-volume, direct sales of bicycles via the web has worked well enough that most other sites now emulate bikesdirect. They also offer no sales tax and free shipping to the lower 48 states.

Amazon.com

Of course you have to try amazon.com! If for no other reason than to comparative shop the brands and features against the prices for the brands being sold elsewhere! I found almost all of the other manufacturers products on here (at about the same price) but not all were offered with Amazon Prime free shipping. This set off an alert in my mind – that perhaps Amazon did not offer the best deal and that further research would be required.

Beachbikes.net

But I think I found the supplier perfect for me in beachbikes.com. Their story goes like this: “Born and raised in Naperville, IL, Dustin and Mike always had a dream of living by the beach.  They had been friends since they were children and always shared a love for bikes, fun, and the great outdoors.

They had always loved the Midwest, the different seasons, and the snowy winters, but they had envisioned a different future. In 2003, after graduating college, they made the decision to live out their dream.  They packed their things and made their way to California.  It didn’t take them long to find a home in Hermosa Beach.

Initially, their career paths took them in different directions landing Mike in the steel industry and Dustin in the entertainment industry.  It didn’t take long, however, for them to realize that their hearts really belonged to the beach and everything that Beachbikes is about.”

I like their philosophy, the way they came together and their commitment, but these 4 things absolutely tipped me in their favor –

  • They offer a test ride period: If you don’t love your bike, they’ll pay the return shipping
  • They warranty your bike forever
  • They’re services is rated 5 out of 5 stars
  • They assign a personal mechanic to all customers

And right now, they are having a mid-summer sale offering up to 50% off on select bikes – the beach cruiser being one of them!

So meet my new Beach Cruiser– a Firmstrong Urban Man Single Speed 26” Beach Cruiser Bike, normally $300 but on sale for $169.99, rated 5 stars in 42 reviews. It is a single speed bike with a coaster brake, it doesn’t get any easier; one gear, one brake.  There are no cables hanging off the bike or complicated gear systems, the brake engages by simply pedaling backwards.  This braking system is a coaster brake, just like the original beach cruisers.  The overall theme of this bike is simplicity, it rolls smooth and effortlessly without complicated design or technology.

The wide cruiser bike tires and cushy cruiser bicycle saddle make the ride soft and relaxing because the seat and tires will absorb most of the shock from bumps along the bike ride.

The effort required to get this bike rolling is minimal, the pedals are easy to turn so the rider won’t be exhausted from a casual bike ride.  Don’t let the one gear fool you! It will be able to serve the differing needs of various riders.  While only one gear, riders will still be able to maintain a consistent cruising speed from 5 to 15mph. In addition, riding up hills is not out of the question. Of course having gears makes uphill riding easier, but because of the single speed configuration riding uphill will be achievable. 

The Specifications:

Size: 17” Frame; 26” Wheels
Frame: Classic Cruiser Design, Steel
Chain: KMC Z-410
Front Hub: Alloy 36H
Grips: Soft Foam
Handlebar: Classic Cruiser Steel; Chrome Plated
Headset: Steel
Kickstand: Included; Steel
Pedals: Rubber Block
Rear Brake: KT Coaster Brake
Rear Hub: KT Coaster, 36H
Rims: Alloy 26” x 2.125 x 36H
Saddle: Classic Padded Dual Spring Saddle
Seat Post: Steel 25.4mm x 350mm
Stem: Alloy
Tires: Kenda White Wall 26” x 2.125

Although I just now ordered it and it hasn’t been delivered yet, because I did my homework and really assessed what I wanted, needed and could afford; because I took my time and researched sources, prices and amenities, I know my new, blue Firmstrong Beach Cruiser Bike will be exactly what I need, want and will enjoy for years to come!

 

 

 


Information:

Pawleys Island
Pawleys Kayaks
Firmstrong.com
SixThreeZero.com
Bikesdirect.com
Amazon.com
Beachbikes.net


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