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Old 07-04-08, 06:14 AM   #1
JaclynMcKewan
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Cruisers vs. Comfort Bikes

In trying to decide what kind of bike to get for casual riding around the neighborhood (and an occasional 2.5 mile commute) I was originally looking at hybrids and comfort bikes, and having trouble deciding. Then I heard about cruisers and got even more confused. I see that many cruisers have coaster brakes and only 1 speed. However, in the case of bikes like the Giant Simple 7, and the Raleigh Retroglide 7, they have regular brakes and multiple speeds. So, aside from the appearance/style, what would be the difference between cruisers like the Simple and Retroglide, and comfort bikes? I read on this forum that cruisers tend to have the pedals more in front of you, rather than below, so would that be the main difference? And how do cruisers/comfort bikes compare in feel or performance? (I'm guessing that the different pedal position creates a more relaxed riding posture but makes cruisers less efficient than comfort bikes, right?)

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Old 07-04-08, 06:31 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by JaclynMcKewan View Post
In trying to decide what kind of bike to get for casual riding around the neighborhood (and an occasional 2.5 mile commute) I was originally looking at hybrids and comfort bikes, and having trouble deciding. Then I heard about cruisers and got even more confused. I see that many cruisers have coaster brakes and only 1 gear. However, in the case of bikes like the Giant Simple 7, and the Raleigh Retroglide 7, they have regular brakes and multiple gears. So, aside from the appearance/style, what would be the difference between cruisers like the Simple and Retroglide, and comfort bikes?
They're coming from different ends of the cycling spectrum, I'd say. A "comfort bike" is called "comfort" because it's less aggressive than a race-ready road bike or a hardcore mountain bike. A cruiser is a cruiser -- it's its own breed.

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I read on this forum that cruisers tend to have the pedals more in front of you, rather than below, so would that be the main difference?
It's one difference, yeah. Imagine sitting more upright, putting your feet a bit forward, and bringing the handlebars back. That's a good position for, literally, cruising down the boardwalk for window shopping and people watching.

The handlebar-saddle-pedals relationship on most bikes has more to do with putting the upper body in a certain position than anything else. It's easier to keep your head up on a cruiser (or an older "English 3-speed"), while on a road bike, you'd have to hold your head up more -- but you'll have a harder time with headwinds on a cruiser than on a road bike, too.

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And how do cruisers/comfort bikes compare in feel or performance? (I'm guessing that the different pedal position creates a more relaxed riding posture but makes cruisers less efficient than comfort bikes, right?)
A lot of the efficiency difference would come from how non-aerodynamic your body position is, as I mentioned a few lines earlier. You'll also gain multiple gears on most comfort bikes -- but a single-speed cruiser will be easier to maintain (not that shifters & derailleurs are difficult anyway, but nobody can deny that there's nothing to adjust on a cruiser ).

My (free) advice: At this stage, get whatever you want, and you can't go wrong. When you get another bike (not "if", but "when"), you'll have discovered where you like to ride the most and for how long. Then, keep that first bike around for fun, as a spare, for friends, etc.
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Old 07-04-08, 08:58 AM   #3
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For your projected use I strongly recommend a good ol' 3 speed
cruiser for max comfort and durablity.
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Old 07-04-08, 12:03 PM   #4
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If your commute is fairly level and you're in reasonably good shape, it won't really matter; practically any bike would work.

One thing to watch for is that for maximum pedaling efficiency, you need to have the seat high enough so your leg is almost fully extended on the downstroke. But you'll find many cruisers are sold and pictured with the saddle all the way down. They look cooler that way, but don't assume that's how they're to be ridden, unless you are very short, or going short distances slowly.
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Old 07-04-08, 12:04 PM   #5
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Ditto Tightwad.
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Old 07-05-08, 07:35 AM   #6
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I have a Giant Suede with 7 speeds. Has the relaxed geometry of the cruiser (love the Simple 7 too), but regular front & rear brakes. I have a few hills and lots of wind, so gears help. Have been riding for over a year now and still love my bike. My rides average 10 mi./6 days per week.
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Old 07-05-08, 07:45 AM   #7
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For 2.5 miles anything will work, unless it's a big hill.

The bigger the tires the more work it is to pedal. The bigger the tires the softer the ride.

If you are just starting riding and there are hills or strong winds you will like having multiple gears. If you are just starting riding what ever you pick may seem hard at first and easy by the end of the summer.

Test ride to see what you like, everyone is different.
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Old 07-05-08, 07:46 AM   #8
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BTW, don't know why I forgot this --

It was mentioned that cruisers tend to have the pedals forward, and I said that it's mainly to help put the body in a more upright position.

What it also does is effectively move the seat a bit lower to the ground. This lets the rider put a foot down while stopped without getting off the seat, yet still lets the legs extend the correct amount for pedaling efficiency.

Anyway, I'll also ditto Tightwad's recommendation of a three-speed, or Rosie8's 7 speed. It really is nicer to have multiple gears.
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Old 07-05-08, 07:19 PM   #9
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Not all cruisers are crank-forward.
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Old 07-06-08, 02:02 AM   #10
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Not all cruisers are crank-forward.
The angle of the seat post causes crank forward(with respect to the seat),most better quality bikes have a lower angled seat post to prevent the seat post from bending from your weight,my trek cc has a lower degree angle than my wal-mart brand bike.If the angle is too much and you have a non spring seat the seatpost will bend because of leverage from the height of the seatpost..
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Old 07-06-08, 05:34 AM   #11
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IMO-
check out Campus Wheelworks, they are a little more commuter focused than some shops.
they carried Breezer and Jamis.
A Breezer Freedom is a solid pragmatic bike with three speed hub.
Also Jamis makes a bike series called Commuter, there are three or four levels; recently saw
a lady with a Commuter 2; 1x8 drive train. She seemed to be very satisfied with it.
Either of these will get you there and back with ease and comfort, both are reasonable values for their cost. Either of these have V-brakes, suggest replacing the stock pads with KoolStop salmon pads; many will ask why spend $20 to replace the new pads with new pads- you will like the feel of the way the salmon pads stop much better than the stock pads- plus if you get stuck in a rain shower- the salmon pads will stop more effectively.
ps- sorry this does not really answer your question, just my opinion about a bike for my perception of your needs.

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