History of Cruiser Bikes


In 1933, Frank W. Schwinn bicycle manufacturer in Chicago, frustrated by the poor quality of the bikes in America that were prone to break down easily, went to Germany, where thick “balloon” tires had been used in the bicycles and motorcycles market for several years. He spent some time combining two-inch tires on steel wheels.

With this as a starting point, mechanic Schwinn then built a broad and solid double joist frame. These aerodynamic frame although heavy were much sturdier and promised great durability. This “Cruiser Bikes” came into being. They were assembled and launched in 1933 which revolutionized the bicycle industry in the U.S.

The 1950s-1960s

ingles racer
History of Cruiser Bikes

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, bikes imported from Britain and Mainland Europe become popular in the U.S especially sport roasters agile models known as the “ingles racer”. These models offered three-speed gear options, high wheels, narrower tires, lighter weight and greater ability to climb slopes. Even U.S manufacturer Schwinn began producing their own version of “ingles racer.” As such the cruiser bikes went into a decline.


In 1972, a new wave of lightweight bikes derailleur led a new wave of consumer interest in recreational cycling, resulting in a new book cycle. Sports bikes equipped with ten-speed derailleur bikes inspired by European races soon dominated the market for adults especially in the United States.

Although much of the cruiser bike technology was a date the to late 1960s, the cruiser remained popular for its utility and recreational use on the beaches of California, where they quickly gained the title of “Bikes T-Shirts” English Beach Cruisers.


California Beach Cruiser Bike Retro Picture
California Beach Cruiser Bike Retro Picture

In 1976 Recycled Cycles bike shop in Newport Beach California, owned and operated by Larry and Don McNeely coined the term “California Beach Cruiser” and used it as his trademark for the production of a modern shirt bike. So the US Bicycle “Cruisers” of the 1930s found a new life in the US coast as a practical mode of transportation.

The Connection to Mountain Bikes

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, pictures of “cruisers” formed the basis for the bike recent development.

In the mid-seventies, a group of enthusiasts in Main Couty, California began racing bikes for local roads on Mount Tamalpais, a race they called “Pack”, because the trip was so exhausting that cyclists had their backpedal repack with grease after each run.

The terrain was rocky and the bike often failed and crashed. So the bikes looked for a more sustainable and economical alternative. They soon discovered that the old “clunker” balloon tires could be obtained for $5 at a garage sale and could withstand tremendous punishment.

Soon, cyclists were reviving these rusty relics, undoing the heavy winds and ornaments and trucandolos motorcycle brakes and other devices to improve performance. A cyclist Gary Fisher, fitted gearshifts in his old Schwinn Excelsior, making traveling on the mountain possible. Soon the mountain bikes came into being and started launching worldwide with a phenomenal fan following.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the rise of interest in collecting antique bicycles and the prices of the old classics tires was increased.

Current Use

california beach cruiser
california beach cruiser

The comfort, style and affordability have led to renewed popularity in recent years. They are praised for their cuteness factor and many choose these bikes for the day to day utility and commute. They can fit baskets, racks and many other accessories. They can be found as a tricycle or trailer for transporting the umbrella or for transporting children to their schools or for weekly shopping.