Can You Add Gears To A Cruiser Bike – Bicycles In Motion

Can You Add Gears To A Cruiser Bike

Can You Add Gears To A Cruiser Bike

Some cruiser bikes come with multiple gears, but it’s relatively rare. However, all cruisers have at least one gear which is why they are also known as single-speed bikes.

Regardless of how they start, you can always add to your bike if you’re willing to put in the time and money. Can you add gears to a cruiser bike?

You can add gears to a cruiser bike if the dropouts of the frame can accommodate a wheel hub designed for multiple speeds. If the frame is too narrow, you need to cold set a steel frame or use internal gear hubs. Adding gears to a cruiser bike can be expensive because you must change the entire drive set.

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Do Cruiser Bikes Have Gears

All cruiser bikes have gears. Typically it’s just a single speed unless you go out of your way to find a multi-gear cruiser.

Those that come with shifting capabilities are almost always three or seven-speed bikes. After all, you don’t need a twenty-one-speed bike to handle casual hills and slopes, which is what a cruiser is built for.

Any cruiser can accommodate multiple gears if you know enough to DIY the process correctly or take it to a professional builder.

Fortunately, it’s a mechanical issue with a mechanical solution, so most people can learn how to tackle it with the right tools and understanding.

Can I Add Gears To A Bike

You can add gears to a bike. It’s achievable whether you want to make a single-speed into a multi-speed or just want extra low or high gears.

The style of cruiser you ride and its particular frame and drivetrain will determine how much work you need to do to add to it.

Sadly, not all bikes are created the same, and you may need to swap out other parts of the drivetrain or even do a more extensive rebuild to get the gears you want.

In some cases, the process can get expensive enough to make it worth simply buying a different bike.

I always suggest doing a basic search for your model and checking the compatibility and what parts you’ll need before committing.

So long as your bike is a single speed, to begin with, you should check out this video by Chinmay Shalwadi.

They explain how to install Shimano gears into any single-speed bike. Plus, Shalwadi also tackles some of the more challenging aspects like chain and crankset teeth thickness and provides a lot of visual aids to help you with the process.

How Much Does It Cost To Put Gears On A Bike

Putting gears on a bike will cost you the price of the parts plus labor. The cheapest labor is $10 to $20, but you should expect to pay more like sixty to a hundred for the time it takes at most shops.

Keep in mind that, like any professional repair, the costs will vary slightly based on where you live, what parts you choose, and who does the work.

As for the parts, a derailleur system should cost two to five hundred dollars. However, you can choose to go with the internal gear hub instead if necessary, in which case you’re looking at fees of around twelve hundred dollars.

How To Add Gears To Beach Cruiser

Adding gears to your beach cruiser will require a lot of new parts. You’ll need a full array of bike tools, and you’re going to need to take some measurements to get the correct parts.

Features like the existing chain are simply incompatible with having more gears on your bike.

1 – Measure Dropout Spacing

You will need to find a compatible rear hub. This will also tell you whether you need to cold set your frame. The new rear hub with gears has to be the same size as the old single-speed hub, or it won’t fit.

2 – Check Your Chain Line

You may need to change the bottom bracket in front. However, your existing cranks and a geared hub will be enough to handle the new hub with a bit of luck. If necessary, swap a bracket and change the chain.

3 – Front Derailleur Cable & Shifter

Unless you plan to shift the chain manually every time you need to change gears, then you’re going to need a shifter and a cable for the front derailleur.

There are several shifter styles to choose from, and installation will depend on what the manufacturer recommends based on the shifter style.

4 – Consider Internal Gears

If you want to work around the chain tension issues, then a hub with internal gears is an easy solution.

Although these parts are more expensive, you’re paying for convenience and sometimes the only available fit.

5 – Add A Chainring and Chain Tensioner

Changing your chainring may also necessitate new cranks as they are often integral.

As you can see, turning a single-speed bike into a multi-speed is a time-consuming process that involves changing many of the parts of your bicycle associated with the drivetrain.

Nevertheless, it can be done if you are committed to the idea.

6 – Check The Brakes

If your original beach cruiser uses coaster brakes, then you’re going to need to change your brake style.

That means adding new disc brakes or another compatible type and running brake cables. The chain tensioner may interfere with rear-wheel braking.

Helpful Tips To Know If You Can Add Gears To A Cruiser Bike

Adding geas to a cruiser bike is always possible, but it’s not cheap. If you love your single-speed bicycle, then it may be worth the time and cost, but you’ll need to trade out or add a lot of parts.

Here are some helpful tips to know if you can add gears to a cruiser bike.

  • When the OLD or over-locknut dimension is below a hundred thirty millimeters, then you’ll need to cold set your frame or use an internal gear hub.
  • Don’t skip the cold setting if you need it. Sometimes a minor variation makes it look like you could just lever the frame a little bit further apart, and presto, easy installation. The problem with this thinking is that it’s too easy to misalign the dropouts, which creates an issue with wheel removal and chain tension. Opting for the too-easy fix may cause you more problems than it solves.
  • To cold set your steel bike frame, you need a threaded steel rod. This works on bikes with a dropout width of a hundred and thirty millimeters or less. Only steel frames can handle the pressure, but if you’re lucky enough to ride this style, then you can open the dropout to allow a wheel with a derailleur system.

Final Thoughts

Cruiser bikes are designed for single-speed or very few gears. However, with sufficient motivation and budget, you can add more gears.

Whether you need an internal gear hub or you have to cold set a steel bike frame, the technology exists, but it may end up costing more than your original bicycle.

Brian Smith

Brian is the founder of Bicycles In Motion and an avid cyclist for 17 years. On the weekends, he enjoys exploring new bike trails and countryside roads to enjoy the outdoors.

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