Cruiser Bicycle Tips

A brief rundown of the parts, accessories, and maintenance involved in a cruiser bike.

Get to Know Your Bike.

Take a look at your bike. You'll notice a definite lack of dangly, clunky or obtrusive parts. One of the best things about a cruiser is that the bike is fiendishly simple. There's only one speed, so pedaling is simple and efficient. There are no gears to shift, no derailleurs to break, and it's almost impossible to knock the chain off.

Take a look at the handlebars, too. If your cruiser is like most, there wont be anything up there but smooth metal and a pair of rubber grips. Some cruisers do have brake levers and a shifter for an internally-geared hub; if yours is one of these, it will need (slightly) more attention.

Keeping It Running.

Because there's so little that can go wrong, cruiser maintenance can be distilled to three simple tasks, easily performed by he home mechanic. First and foremost is lubing the chain. You may have noticed that your chain, cog and chainring are all metal. This is not a happy union, and much friction takes place. Though high-end road bikes need to be lubed every day for maximum chain life, to keep your cruiser running whisper quiet and ultra smooth, lube the chain around twice a month, or once every 5 rides, whichever comes first. Use a light oil for this, and don't be afraid to spend a few extra dollars getting a bike-specific one at the shop. If the chain is visibly gunky, rusty, or makes squealing noises, give it a good rubdown with a rag, and re-lube.



Another thing you want to check on regularly are the various bolts around the bike. Pick up the bike and give it a good drop (from 4 or so inches off the ground.) Now memorize that sound. There shouldn't be any metallic noises other than the bouncing of the chain and kickstand. Do this every couple of rides or so. If your ears pick up something new, find the culprit screw and tighten him down. If you can't find the source of the new noise, or lack the tool to tighten it (usually a metric allen wrench or box wrench), take it to the nearest bike shop and have them look at it.

Finally, keep an eye on tire pressure. Low tire pressure makes your bike slower, harder to steer and more prone to flats. Maximum pressure varies for cruiser tires, but generally, you don't want to be able to easily push down the top of your tire with your thumb. Since most cruisers use automotive-style valves, take your bike down to the local gas station and re-inflate the tires. But even if you do all these things (and especially if you don't) you should to take your bike to the shop at least once a year for a full checkup.

Accessories.

Riding a cruiser is all about style, and most of the accessories designed for cruisers reflect this. Things like custom-colored tires, banana seats, handlebar streamers and fully-chromed fenders are all a great way to complement the cruiser look. But consider some more functional accessories as well. A bell can be a pleasant way to let pedestrians know you are riding up behind them, though a horn is far better at getting attention. If you find that your chain gets looser as you ride, a BMX chain tensioner can help keep it tight, and a bike rack or a nice handlebar basket can make it easier to carry things while you ride.

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