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Bike Culture in California

May 19, 2022

Bike riding is a favorite pastime for many. California is the perfect place to ride, as the weather is almost always perfect, and there are so many great views. The beach cruiser has been around for a long time, and these days, many people have one because they are stable and easy to ride, allowing for a carefree jaunt around the neighborhood, along the beach, or on a bike path. They have also become popular for those who want to get some exercise while commuting to and from work.


Beach Cruiser History


The beach cruiser first made its appearance in the early 1930s, post-depression. The bike now known as the cruiser was first made in 1933 by Schwinn. Its design closely mimicked that of a motorcycle, although it had no motor. As a result, these bikes were first called motorbikes.


The cruiser bike design evolved in the later 1930s and 1940s, as manufacturers such as Huffy and Monark tweaked the original design. Now, when people think of a beach cruiser, it contains designs such as a large saddle that is comfortable to sit on, an upright position with swept back handlebars, a simple to use brake, and curves found along the frame. Although the shape and design have not changed dramatically, the riding culture has ebbed and flowed among the decades.


Riding in the 1930-40's


The cruiser bike became a thing in the 1930s because traditional bike sales declined quite a bit after the depression. Most people considered bikes to be unnecessary for everyday use, and they were seen as more of a luxury item meant for recreation or sports.


The cruiser design came about in an attempt to gain attention from the younger crowd, and the bikes were of a simpler design based on what most people were riding in European countries such as France and Germany. The cruisers were meant to be ridden on flatter services with very little effort. After WWII, sales of these bikes began to climb, as their practicality and comfort were more valued by the everyday person.


How Bike Culture Developed in the 1950-70's


During the Baby Boom period, sales of cruisers began to climb. They were popular for students and paperboys, as the bikes were able to handle heavier loads. They were also a fixture in families, and bike manufacturers kept coming out with new features such as horns, fringe details, and chrome plating that appealed to the younger generation.


Beach cruisers began to fall out of favor in the late '50s and '60s. The import of more sport-oriented bikes from the UK, France, and Germany paved the way for what is now known as ten-speed bicycles, which U.S. manufacturers began making instead of the cruiser.


In the 1970s, the mountain bike became popular. Most people forgot about the cruiser bike and focused, instead, on road and mountain bikes. However, the cruiser was still fairly popular in coastal towns, which is when the term 'beach cruiser' officially started.


California Cruisers in the 1980-90's


In the early 1980s, cruisers were considered a collector's item. However, the cruiser increased in popularity again, as more people began to look for simple alternatives to bikes with complicated gears. As tourism increased in coastal towns, such as those in California, beach cruisers became THE bike to rent.


Current Day Beach Cruisers


Cruisers continue to evolve, but the design remains similar. They have become extremely popular, not only for those along the beach, but also for people living in the middle of the country. Numerous companies now rent them out and make it easy for riders to use smart technology for rental and return.

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