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  1. #1
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    Multi Speed Cruisers Versus Single Speed

    Hey, I am still looking around, but I was wondering about the multi-speed cruisers I see on this forum and at my local bike shop. On the one hand, I really like the looks of the single-speed Electra and the stock handlebars. I see that the other Electras at my LBS have a rear gear cluster, but the design isn't the same as the basic cruiser.
    The big draw of the basic Electra for me is that I live in an apartment building and the heavier the bike, the less chance it will get stolen from the storage area! LOL
    Plus, the single-speeds must be better for getting and staying in shape, right?
    Fred

  2. #2
    Senior Member GP's Avatar
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    It depends on your local terrain and physical condition.

    We have four cruisers; two single speed, a 7 speed with Nexus hub and a 5 (?) speed with electric motor. I prefer the single speeds because they're simpler and I have other bikes for longer/hillier rides. My wife prefers the geared ones because they're easier to pedal.

    The 7-speed is an Electra. It's been sitting outside a few blocks from the beach for almost 15 years. I shoot WD40 on the chain every couple of months and it runs fine. I ride it when I go to the store and need a basket.

  3. #3
    Senior Member blacksapphire08's Avatar
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    If you want the same look as the single speed you'll want to get a 3i model. The only visible difference is the twist shifter on the right grip, I have one.

  4. #4
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    IMO a cruiser with a 7,or8, speed internal hub ,w/coaster brake, are ideal urban transportation. Solid, rugged and reliable as can be.

    That said my Worksman Cruiser is just such a bike.................
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

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    Nothing wrong with a coaster brake. A failure is quite rare and they're a simple and effective brake.

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Different strokes for different folks, and terrain comes into it too. I have a couple of single speed cruisers, my newest one is a 3 speed and I am enjoying having a couple of extra gears. When we ride at the beach is it pretty much flat, but that low gear sure is nice when the wind picks up!

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  7. #7
    Senior Member KOTA's Avatar
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    I've built a lot of coaster brake bikes, I really like them. But as I got up in years, I had to go up in gears.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the advice. I talked to one LBS a few miles from me and they told me, "Electra doesn't make a real bike." So, they won't carry them.
    They suggest the Giant Simple line, but don't stock these unless special ordered!
    The Electras seem great for the money.

  9. #9
    Senior Member blacksapphire08's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankykentucky View Post
    Thanks for the advice. I talked to one LBS a few miles from me and they told me, "Electra doesn't make a real bike." So, they won't carry them.
    They suggest the Giant Simple line, but don't stock these unless special ordered!
    The Electras seem great for the money.
    Well to be honest I think Electra makes nice bikes but if you compare it to other bikes in that price range ($400+) then yes it doesnt seem like a good deal anymore. My Electra Cruiser is very comfortable and it looks cool. However, even with the 3spd it is still horrible at climbing any kind of incline and its very heavy. Its fairly hilly in my area so it just wont do for longer rides, thats why I bought my Trek FX.

    If you know the cruiser is the bike for you then Electra makes some of the best.

  10. #10
    Rhapsodic Laviathan
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    I have only one cruiser that I want more gears on. I'm not a fan of Electra, yheir bikes look weird like some sort of ugly chopper, and the pedal foward setup.
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

  11. #11
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    since all my main bikes are stretch cruisers I want low gears to help push up hills (and high gears for down hills or when I'm feeling my oats), so if it didn't have gears when I got it I put some on. usually derailleurs, since the parts are easier to find.

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    Senior Member SquidPuppet's Avatar
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    A TRUE beach cruiser can ONLY be a single speed coaster brake bike. The simplest and least expensive version of a bike available. Once you go beyond that simplicity, the bike is too sophisticated to be classified as a beach cruiser. Once you add gears, you aren't "cruising". If you need hand brakes, you are going way too fast to be "cruising". A Bendix two speed kickback hub is allowable. But cables of any kind are not allowed under any circumstances.

    If you want gears and rim brakes, that's perfectly OK, just don't call it a beach cruiser.

    And while I'm at it, there is no such thing as an aluminum beach cruiser. Steel is the only acceptable frame and fork material.

    These are not casual guidelines. These are THE rules.

    During my youth in the early 1970s in Huntington Beach Ca, our bikes were used as a simple tool. Transportation that was one step above walking. To scoot a couple of blocks to check the waves, to go to the store for groceries, to go to a friends house or the movies.


    A cruiser bicycle, also known as a beach cruiser, is a bicycle which combines balloon tires, an upright seating posture, a single-speed drivetrain, and straightforward steel construction with expressive styling.
    While largely obsolete by the late 1960s, the cruiser remained popular for utility and recreational use at the beach, where they soon earned the title of "beach cruisers".[12] The term "beach cruiser" started in 1976 at Recycled Cycles in Newport Beach when Larry McNeely coined the phrase and used it as their Trade Mark for the production of the modern Beach Cruiser. Secondhand cruisers found new life on America's coastlines as practical transportation for beach bums and surfers
    But that's just me. I'm an old fashioned, uptight traditionalist when it comes to cruisers and klunkers.
    Last edited by SquidPuppet; 06-01-14 at 10:43 AM.

  13. #13
    Rhapsodic Laviathan
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    Quote Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
    A TRUE beach cruiser can ONLY be a single speed coaster brake bike. The simplest and least expensive version of a bike available. Once you go beyond that simplicity, the bike is too sophisticated to be classified as a beach cruiser. Once you add gears, you aren't "cruising". If you need hand brakes, you are going way too fast to be "cruising". A Bendix two speed kickback hub is allowable. But cables of any kind are not allowed under any circumstances.

    If you want gears and rim brakes, that's perfectly OK, just don't call it a beach cruiser.

    And while I'm at it, there is no such thing as an aluminum beach cruiser. Steel is the only acceptable frame and fork material.

    These are not casual guidelines. These are THE rules.

    During my youth in the early 1970s in Huntington Beach Ca, our bikes were used as a simple tool. Transportation that was one step above walking. To scoot a couple of blocks to check the waves, to go to the store for groceries, to go to a friends house or the movies.






    But that's just me. I'm an old fashioned, uptight traditionalist when it comes to cruisers and klunkers.
    Blah! Blah I say!
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

  14. #14
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    that might be fine on a beach, but for me it's about the opposite. gears make "cruising", cruising, and not sometimes struggling (or being resigned to coasting if I hit a downhill and can't take advantage of it).

    they just opened up both ends of a pedestrian bridge here recently. and I got my first try at it last weekend. without gears on my stretch I would have been walking it up (and since my "low" isn't the lowest, 52 front-34 rear, I was sweating pretty good anyway). maybe on an upright bike you could stand on the pedals and make it up without gears, but that doesn't seem much like "cruising" to me either. it wasn't bad though, once you made the climb up. I crossed the river on another car/pedestrian bridge (that had a pretty decent incline too) and came back on the new bridge. it may become part of my regular route, but I think I'm going to rethink my gearing on upcoming projects if so.

    likewise, at another point along the river walk, there's a section that runs under the expressway, is the slightest bit downhill and is shaded after the section before was out in the sun. I love putting it in high and getting that cool breeze speed run. that's still cruising to me.
    Last edited by Philphine; 06-06-14 at 04:59 PM.

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    I too am looking at a cruiser for the upright relaxed posture and can't make up my mind. I'm getting up in the years. I live by Pensacola Beach and I do recall riding on the beach road on a beautiful day with some wind. I had a touring bike with 21 gears. Heading to the point was a breeze (excuse the pun) and I didn't take much notice of the wind. On the return trip I had the wind in my face. Without gears I would have walked the bike. This post just sold me on getting at least three gears on my cruiser. I'll stay internal for the minimal maintenance and beach look. Swept back handle bar is great. I like the Electra bikes. Electra coaster for the aluminum or townie, both with three gears. Yes I know the Townie is not a true cruiser but with an upright posture, internal gears, comfortable seat and fat tires I intend to cruise on it. Probably add a cool basket and cup holder. I'm thinking of getting the Townie with 3 gears and changing the handle bars to swept back. Not sure if that is the way to go. Along comes 3 gear townie with balloon tires. Do the balloon tires make that much difference over a bike that already has somewhat fat tires? If somebody with actual ride experience could answer that i would love it! Thanks. Great forum!

  16. #16
    Senior Member GP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
    A TRUE beach cruiser can ONLY be a single speed coaster brake bike. The simplest and least expensive version of a bike available. Once you go beyond that simplicity, the bike is too sophisticated to be classified as a beach cruiser. Once you add gears, you aren't "cruising". If you need hand brakes, you are going way too fast to be "cruising". A Bendix two speed kickback hub is allowable. But cables of any kind are not allowed under any circumstances.

    If you want gears and rim brakes, that's perfectly OK, just don't call it a beach cruiser.

    And while I'm at it, there is no such thing as an aluminum beach cruiser. Steel is the only acceptable frame and fork material.

    These are not casual guidelines. These are THE rules.

    During my youth in the early 1970s in Huntington Beach Ca, our bikes were used as a simple tool. Transportation that was one step above walking. To scoot a couple of blocks to check the waves, to go to the store for groceries, to go to a friends house or the movies.






    But that's just me. I'm an old fashioned, uptight traditionalist when it comes to cruisers and klunkers.
    Seems like about 15 years ago, cruisers started becoming a fashion statement. There are still a bunch of junkers leaning on the railing at the neighborhood stairway but choppers, stretched out lowriders and all kinds of multi-colored girl's cruisers pass by the house on weekends.

    I'm a traditionalist! I get my cruisers at thrift stores keep the wobbly wheels and rust!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    Times change and there are a lot of people that want more gears no matter what style or bike classification. All my bikes are multi-speed from cassette, freewheel, iGH, etc. it all depends what your requirements and terrains you ride in. It's all good in the end and most of the people I know don't care what others think about their bikes. The bottom line is getting from point a to b and back and enjoying /being happy with whatever bike choice and mods you made.

  18. #18
    Senior Member blacksapphire08's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sci-Fi View Post
    Times change and there are a lot of people that want more gears no matter what style or bike classification. All my bikes are multi-speed from cassette, freewheel, iGH, etc. it all depends what your requirements and terrains you ride in. It's all good in the end and most of the people I know don't care what others think about their bikes. The bottom line is getting from point a to b and back and enjoying /being happy with whatever bike choice and mods you made.
    True, in a perfect world my ideal bike would look like a cruiser but have the light weight and components of a road bike. I can keep dreaming right? lol.

  19. #19
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    I got a few different set-ups, but the bike that gets the most miles outta me right now is a Worksman INB with fenders, dynamo lighting, singlespeed coaster out back, and drum brake up front.

    My go-to for short-distance jaunts in nice weather is a 80s Trailmate industrial bike, with low ss-gearing and a coaster. Nothing else going on, drivetrain/brakes-wise.

    I'm not as rigid as squid-puppet, but I think once you put a derailer or 2 on a cruiser, you've turned it into something else. Nothing wrong with it; i'm in the process o slowly building up a 2x5 Worksman with rim brakes. But it ain't quite a cruiser anymore, once i'm done, anyway.

    As for the term "beach cruiser", I don't use that kinda jargon. That's shoebee lingo. If I ride my road bike to the shore, does it become a "beach road bike"? Hardly. Therefore, my cruisers are just that.... cruisers, regardless of the context. None of mine have seen the beach, at least not since I've built'm. (Old frames can have a storied past, though...) Only sand they see are on the sugary trails of the NJ Pine Barrens....

  20. #20
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    "i'm in the process o slowly building up a 2x5 Worksman with rim brakes."

    Why? Worksman offers a drum brake that is bullet proof which is light years better than any rim brake!!
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Want more gears ? get a new rear wheel . simple as that. 5 speed coaster or drum brakes .

  22. #22
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    "i'm in the process o slowly building up a 2x5 Worksman with rim brakes."

    Why? Worksman offers a drum brake that is bullet proof which is light years better than any rim brake!!
    Why? When you've got more INB frames than you do sense, the minds plays tricks on you and the experiments get more bizarre as you go.... Worksman offers that Grimeca-style front drum; the rear drum they had, last I checked, was a Sturmey-Archer unit. I already have a Worksman INB with 70mm Sturmey drums, front and rear. I'm not a huge fan of the Grimeca-type Worksman drum, b/c that thing is even heavier than the Stumey-Archer drum.... and every drum brake I've ever seen handily outweighed an XT v-brake.

    Further, none of'm outperform an XT v-brake, either. On trails, heat becomes an issue for drums... ask me how I know. =P

    I'm building a tenspeed Worksman for trail riding, and the only OE stuff will be the frame itself and the headset cups, which I'm using in my 1.125" threadless conversion. Running a Surly fork. It'll be an exercise in kludge mayhem, and I have fun doing that sort of thing. Don't even ask about my fixed gear/ disc brake INB, which will be done by August. I'll post pictures....

    So, yeah, no good reason. I just look at these builds as a mind-teaser/puzzle kind of exercise, then I have fun riding them.
    Last edited by surreal; 06-06-14 at 08:13 PM. Reason: grammar/typos/etc

  23. #23
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Want more gears ? get a new rear wheel . simple as that. 5 speed coaster or drum brakes .
    True dat. Depending on the frame, though, you might have an issue with rear spacing/spreading the frame. I think some of those Electras are aluminum, too.... Spreading an aluminum frame has been done, but I can't recommend it.

    I recently bought a SA S2 kickback hub... the kind without a coaster brake.... that thing is spaced at 110mm, which is/was the cruiser standard. I'll be running mine with a u-brake. The coaster kickbacks are spaced at 116mm or more, depending on the brand/version.... (I have a 70s-era Sachs Torpedo Duomatic which is spaced 112mm....)

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    SA SRF 5 W 5speeds are made pretty narrow .. the 2 freewheel ones say they would fit 111/119.. S5C .. 127

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post

    As for the term "beach cruiser", I don't use that kinda jargon. That's shoebee lingo. If I ride my road bike to the shore, does it become a "beach road bike"? Hardly. Therefore, my cruisers are just that.... cruisers, regardless of the context. None of mine have seen the beach, at least not since I've built'm. (Old frames can have a storied past, though...) Only sand they see are on the sugary trails of the NJ Pine Barrens....
    Well I primarily use my Beach Cruisers at the beach... We used to own a cottage down there and we had specific bikes that stayed down there. I would occasionally take a better bike for longer rides. I guess we called them beach cruisers to differentiate between the couple of other cruisers that we had that didn't go to the beach. We still go to the beach and usually haul beach cruisers with us, I prefer not to ride my vintage Raleigh 3 speeds at the beach due to the salt.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

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