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Old 07-16-11, 12:31 AM   #1
savagethespian
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touring the USA on a beach cruiser

Now before everyone starts calling me crazy keep in mind that I do know what goes into doing a tour (I biked from Portland Oregon to Los Angeles and back). Now the reason im thinking about a "beach cruiser" is because A) the style, you just got to love the look. B) the ride, on my last tour my back was killing me most of the time because of bending over so much and with you basically sitting up-right most of the time I figure it wouldn't hurt as much.
Now for my question, what would it take to modify a beach cruiser for a long distance trip like this? Any idea are welcomed but please remember, im all about simple but effective.
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Old 07-16-11, 01:06 AM   #2
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There has been lots of touring done on bikes that today would seem inefficient. As long as you can keep moving it really doesn't mater that the bike is less efficient than it might be.

Style wise, I don't know how recognizable it would be if the cruiser is loaded.

Comfort wise, using a traditional format bike with drops, does not mean you are bent over, it mainly means you have correct arm position, and several different positions, this normally means the bike is more comfortable not less. Some degree of bending over is normally more comfortable for the back, because the back is hanging as in normal quadruped position, rather than vertical with compression from every bump. In a sense, upright position is an odd human position, that has advantages, but normally leads to the back trouble, not an ideal from the perspective of back trouble. Bent forward, the torso is in more ideal position for lung expansion.

If one had a custom frame, one could get a pretty good position and look from a "cruiser", if all that meant was a bent top tube, some stretched out geometry, etc...

http://coconinocycles.blogspot.com/2...-mikes-at.html

Loaded

http://www.velocipedesalon.com/forum...10-640x480-jpg

To make an off the rack cruiser work, the main thing would be to replace the wheels with lightweight wheels with fat, high pressure, slicks.

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Old 07-16-11, 02:46 AM   #3
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There has been a lot of mountain bikes modified for that same reason. Longer stems,cruiser bars and better rolling resistence tires has made it easier.It would be cheaper than trying to rebuild a cruiser to match other specs.
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Old 07-16-11, 05:03 AM   #4
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I have to plug this guy all the time. Chris Buerki's "Travels with Lucy"

A North Florida guy who took his average Walmart cruiser pulling a kiddy trailer with his dog in it across the southern tier without any modifications and little preparation.
He wasn't really a biker and had never written a book before but he produced a strange little account that is hard to put down and well worth reading if you want to see just how slack you can be and still do the ride.





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Old 07-16-11, 07:29 AM   #5
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Different strokes, but I find beach cruisers decidedly less comfortable for long rides. Nothing worse than sitting bolt upright for hours on end with all of your weight on the saddle IMO.

That said, I see no reason why it can't work if it suits you. Maybe consider a trailer. Also expect to walk on mountain passes and steep hills.
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Old 07-16-11, 08:22 AM   #6
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I have to plug this guy all the time. Chris Buerki's "Travels with Lucy"

A North Florida guy who took his average Walmart cruiser pulling a kiddy trailer with his dog in it across the southern tier without any modifications and little preparation.
He wasn't really a biker and had never written a book before but he produced a strange little account that is hard to put down and well worth reading if you want to see just how slack you can be and still do the ride.
Mike
Thanks.... Going to have to check that book out....
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Old 07-16-11, 08:52 AM   #7
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Write a book of your own about it.. {hard part, i'm told is: finding a literary agent
to sell it to the publishers.. ..
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Old 07-16-11, 09:01 AM   #8
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One can always self-publish a tome as an ebook.
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Old 07-16-11, 02:50 PM   #9
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You'll be walking up every hill and even every modest incline. But I don't see that as a problem. Plenty of people hike long-distances. The Pacific crest Trail, for example, is about 2700 miles. The American Discovery Trail runs from Atlantic to Pacific coasts and people have walked that. Pushing a bike uphill on a road is easier than carrying the same gear uphill on your back. And then when you get to the top of the hill, you climb back on the bike and off you go. Worst case, there is no level ground and you end up walking exactly half the time. But you still have a much easier time than backpackers, at least on roads. More realistically, you'll stick to the flatter parts of the country and walk the bike perhaps 20% of the time.

Compare yourself with pedestrians, not other bikers, much less motor vehicles.
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Old 07-16-11, 03:07 PM   #10
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There are plenty of choices out there that will give you a more upright position and be more suited for touring than a beach cruiser. I ride a sport road bike. It is sort of like a traditional road bike but you ride at a more upright position. I find it extremely comfortable and I can still ride in the drops when I want to be in a more aerodynamic position. But there are other choices that put you more upright than a sport road bike.
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Old 07-16-11, 03:31 PM   #11
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As far as upright posture goes, there is a reason for drops. On the other hand there was nothing unusual about touring on a bike with an upright position, it was quite comon. And if mileage, etc... was not a big factor, just out for the ride and to see the sights, then the upright posture can be better for looking around.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyz5d...mbedded#at=457

even in this group of cyclists ranging 20 to 70, the vast majority are on drops, though they are set high. At 7:31 you can see the lone bikw without drops. My parents toured back then and one used drops the other didn't.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3158/...0bf32a1ae2.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3218/...5b145a46f1.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3150/...f44fedb925.jpg

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Old 07-16-11, 04:30 PM   #12
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To reiterate some of the above....

The more upright you sit, the more weight you put on your lower back. If you're leaning over, you are putting more weight on your arms. This requires a little more upper body and core work.

It may not be a big deal if you're doing shorter hops and take lots of breaks, but could be counter-productive when you need to spend several days in the saddle.

Perhaps a better alternative is a recumbent bike, which puts a lot less strain on your body and stays more aerodynamic. Not as cheap as a beach cruiser though

And of course, you could hunt down someone in your area who is a top-notch fitter and has experience with touring and long distance rides. It could be some other factor affecting your back, such as saddle fore-aft position.
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Old 07-16-11, 04:46 PM   #13
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Sounds like a blast. I'm doing a tour this summer on a fixie.
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Old 07-16-11, 07:20 PM   #14
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You don't have to walk up hills just because you're on a beach cruiser. Put a geared hub such as the Shimano Alfine 11 on it, and you can tackle some reasonable climbs even without front shifting.

Most beach cruisers I see are ridden with low saddles and bent knees. I'm sure you already know you don't want to do this. You need to be aware that the bent over posture, with handlebars atleast level with the saddle, is the result of over a hundred years of experimentation. It evenly distributes the rider's weight between the hands, butt, and feet, resulting in the least uncomfortable position during long rides. Riding a beach cruiser across the country will be a highly painful and frustrating experience. Your butt will hurt. You won't be able to climb standing properly, you'll catch every wind you meet. If you acknowledge and are fine with these limitations, go for it.
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Old 07-16-11, 09:24 PM   #15
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As touring is 90 percent psychological and 10 percent about equipment you will be fine doing it on a beach cruiser. I rode from SC to TX on a Walmart sidewinder.

The only equipment thing I would consider to add on is a front brake, especially if you only have coaster brakes on it. Your stopping power will be several times better with a front brake add-on.

Good luck and best wishes
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Old 07-17-11, 04:03 AM   #16
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As touring is 90 percent psychological and 10 percent about equipment you will be fine doing it on a beach cruiser....
Well, I would say that if he's highly motivated, he could do it.

If he was doing it as a lark, that's one thing. If he's doing it because he wants a more comfortable riding experience, the cruiser probably won't work.
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Old 07-17-11, 08:41 AM   #17
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As touring is 90 percent psychological and 10 percent about equipment you will be fine doing it on a beach cruiser. I rode from SC to TX on a Walmart sidewinder.

The only equipment thing I would consider to add on is a front brake, especially if you only have coaster brakes on it. Your stopping power will be several times better with a front brake add-on.

Good luck and best wishes
I beg to differ. With the proper equipment, there is less need to psych yourself up. I do agree that no matter what you ride you still need to have it in your mind that you can and will accomplish your goal. Also there sometimes is a certain level of intelligence just to navigate safely and efficiently to your destination.
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Old 07-17-11, 03:43 PM   #18
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Sounds like a blast. I'm doing a tour this summer on a fixie.
Sounds like a drag to me, but... to each his own.

In any case I hope you both have a great trip.
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Old 07-17-11, 11:17 PM   #19
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One really needs more info, could be to the store and back. I guess we won't know till it's done.
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Old 07-18-11, 04:57 PM   #20
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Sounds like a drag to me, but... to each his own.

In any case I hope you both have a great trip.

On the contrary, there won't be a dull moment!

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Old 07-18-11, 05:03 PM   #21
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Old 07-20-11, 07:05 AM   #22
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I'm behind this idea, with mods.

1) you want varied hand positions so you'd have to wrap the bars down low and add some aero bar extensions for drops or something equivalent
2) equip a nine speed cassette, cruiser frame bike with a front derailleur and Deore 48-36-26 crankset. Presto - modern, wide range touring gearing.

3) slightly narrower and higher performance saddle like a Brooks B-67

and I say go for it!

I'd probably build up something out of a frame with some swoop in it and cruiser bars. These pictures are of a couple of bikes I would have had no reservations about adding a front derailleur and going out on a tour. The first pic is an old steel schwinn 7 wide range beach cruiser circa mid eighties, ashtabula BB that could be converted simply to a english BB.

This second bike, totally perfect for conversion to a beach touring bike. later schwinn alloy 7 speed beach cruiser. rear spacing 135, cantilever brakes, I think it even had a standard english BB. maybe ashtabula but i think it was standard. Anyway.

tougher wheels, eight or nine speed drivetrain, front derailleur added, and you are riding the a serious beach touring bike.


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Old 07-20-11, 07:28 AM   #23
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Now the reason im thinking about a "beach cruiser" is because A) the style, you just got to love the look. B) the ride, on my last tour my back was killing me most of the time because of bending over so much and with you basically sitting up-right most of the time I figure it wouldn't hurt as much.
Now for my question, what would it take to modify a beach cruiser for a long distance trip like this? Any idea are welcomed but please remember, im all about simple but effective.
A. yes, the style of sitting low so your feet can sit flat on the road while watching the waves and babes is cool. It also has nothing to do with riding.
B. that your back was the weak link for long distance touring doesn't mean it won't be the weak link riding a cruiser set up for long distance riding.

Modification: long enough seat post for proper leg extension, appropriate stem/bars for comfortable/efficient riding. If your cruiser has a super slack seat angle consider putting more of your pannier load on the front fork as the cruiser is already biased to rear tire weight.
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Old 07-21-11, 05:12 PM   #24
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If you're going up or down any significant grade in the West, you will need some superb brakes. Historically, the stock coaster brakes on single-speed cruisers have been known to heat up so much on long downgrades that they can fail. I assume you will spring for a "modern" cruiser with multiple gears and caliper/cantilever/U-brakes.
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Old 07-21-11, 05:47 PM   #25
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I take it you don't expect to be camping around any mosquitoes.
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