Cruiser bikes have a heavy steel frame and anywhere from one to seven gears, but usually, it’s just the one. That changes how this style of bicycle tackles terrain.
Weight and gears impact the effort you have to put in to keep moving forward on inclined versus flat paths. Are cruiser bikes good for hills?
Cruiser bikes can go uphill, however a steep incline can be challenging. They have a heavy frame with wide tires and typically lack gearing to help move uphill. You will have to work a lot harder to push the pedals. If it is equipped with three or seven-speed gearing, then you can climb up easier.
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Can Cruiser Bikes Go Uphill
Any bike, including a cruiser, can go uphill. The trouble with heading up an incline on a cruiser is twofold. First, even the highest cruisers are not built to be ultralight bikes.
A road bike may weigh as little as three pounds, but those are made for tackling hills and endurance riding.
As Peace Bicycles point out, “… cruiser bikes are heavier. It is common to find cruiser bikes that weigh 30 – 40 lbs. However, you can always purchase a lightweight cruiser bike that weighs less.”
For most people, that’s anywhere from half to a quarter of their body weight, a substantial amount to carry even with the benefit of wheels to move it.
Add an inclined plane, making things exponentially harder depending on the angle.
The second issue is the lack of gears. As I mentioned, you can find cruisers with gears, usually three or seven, but they are uncommon.
You can even add gears to a single-speed bike, but you shouldn’t expect them.
Even with a few gears, it will not be as easy as riding a light road bike with 21 speeds, but if you plan to ride hills regularly on your cruiser bike and you want to make it a little easier on your muscles and joints, then it’s worth seeking out a geared cruiser.
Is It Easy To Ride Over Hills On A Cruiser Bike
It is not easy to ride over hills on a cruiser bike. The lack of gears or limited gears makes it challenging, and the heavy frame with wide tires adds to the difficulty.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make it easier other than simply practicing and building the strength and stamina in your legs.
Start by looking at your route. If you have to tackle hills, you may find a better way around.
Some areas are steeply inclined, but you may be able to locate longer slopes that aren’t as difficult.
Learning to read a topographical map will help you plan out the best way to ride your cruiser bike if you need to change elevation.
Next, you can find ways to lighten the load. Although the average cruiser is thirty to forty pounds and has no gears, you can opt for a lightweight version of your favorite bike.
Moreover, you can often remove unnecessary equipment like back racks, panniers, and baskets. Plus, you can dress in form-fitting, light clothing and carry as little as possible on your rides.
Plan your rides around the weather and especially the wind. If you have to ride in adverse conditions, it will make it harder.
When going uphill, wind in your face can make it nearly impossible to manage. Finally, consider drafting where possible.
If you have the skill to ride behind a vehicle on the upslope so the slipstream can pull you along, it will decrease the difficulty substantially.
Drafting like this makes the car ahead do all the hard work, and all you need to worry about is the fumes from the tailpipe.
3 Reasons Why Cruiser Bikes Are Good For Hills
Overall, cruiser bikes are not designed to tackle hills. They are meant for leisurely rides on mostly flat terrain.
The name cruiser refers to how this style is made for riding, which is slow and steady, more for fun than sport.
Bike Lock Wiki explains, “A cruiser bike also referred to as a motobike or a beach cruiser, is a bicycle that promotes an upright riding position thanks to the geometry of its frame. Cruiser bikes utilize wide, flared handlebars, fat ‘balloon tires’, single-speed drivetrains, large padded saddles, and coaster brakes.”
Regardless of the original intention, there are a few good reasons to use a cruiser bike on hills.
1 – Weight Loss
Easier isn’t always the goal with bike riding. Many people ride for fun, but others are working on weight loss.
Even a slight incline increases the benefit of bike riding, but it is even more significant on a more difficult bike like a cruiser.
The cruiser style of bike isn’t going to do you any favor or cut you any breaks, but it will offer plenty of challenge when you head uphill.
2 – Muscle Gain
Losing weight by burning calories isn’t the only positive health benefit of taking a more strenuous ride.
Cyclists looking to gain muscle can easily replace ‘leg day’ by riding uphill on a cruiser. In this case, the heavier the bike, the better it is.
More challenging workouts mean greater gains faster than an easy workout, and it will make riding a lighter bike feel like nothing.
3 – Posture & Comfort
Road bikes and mountain bikes are made for riding hills and tough terrain. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not accessible to every rider.
A hunched-over position can cause pain in the back and arms, but the upright seated position with a wide seat and shocks on a cruiser makes it possible for a lot more people to ride bicycles comfortably.
Helpful Tips To Know If Cruiser Bikes Are Good For Hills
Cruiser bikes are generally not suitable for hills because this style is heavy and lacks the gearing to assist with slopes.
However, the upright riding position is more accessible for some riders, and you can go uphill on anything with wheels if you’re sufficiently motivated.
Here are more helpful tips to know if cruiser bikes are good for hills.
- Although they’re not ideal for hill riding, the wide tires on a cruiser bike are more stable and easier to ride than a narrow bike.
- Your fitness level will also impact how difficult it is to ride uphill on a cruiser. Someone who hikes recreationally or does a physical job on their feet will have a much easier time than someone sedentary.
- Adding gears to a cruiser is possible. However, it can end up costing more than a new bike. It is only worth looking into if you are especially fond of your existing cruiser, or you would rather spend the money to reduce waste. Otherwise, you may want a different bike to tackle hills.
Cruiser bikes are not good for hills. This bicycle style tends to weigh more than the types meant for riding up inclines which creates more drag and costs more effort.
Additionally, the lack of gears or limited gearing means cruiser bikes don’t offer much assistance in tackling hills.
Lower inclines with a long slope instead of a short sharp one will make your trip easier. You can add gears, but it’s difficult and expensive.
However, if your goal is to get stronger or lose weight, then a cruiser might be ideal.