The beach cruiser – with its sturdy frame, wide tires and seat and upright riding position – is one of the most comfortable bicycles to ride. Like any bicycle, the cruiser has to be in proper working order, from the handlebars to the inner tube.
Surge in Popularity
The popularity of the cruiser has experienced a resurgence in recent years (there is even a rap album named after the cruiser by Glasses Malone), and its style and affordability have contributed to this. The Baby Boomers, many of whom are longing for a retro look, have literally devoured the cruiser, which was the country's most popular type of bicycle from the 1930s through the 1950s.
The basic construction of this single-speed bike – which is primarily made of steel – makes it heavy in weight, and this heavy weight, along with the bicycle’s wide tires, makes it more suitable for flat terrain. Wide tires, a wide seat and an upright riding position all make for a ride geared more for comfort than anything else. Although some self-proclaimed die-hards might indicate otherwise, you wouldn’t want to even think about entertaining the thought of tackling a hill or any surface other than a smooth one while riding a beach cruiser.
And now, for the crux of the situation, where the rubber meets the road ... almost, anyway. Bicycle tubes come in two basic styles, based on the valve that is used: the Schrader valve and the Presta valve.
The Schrader, or American, valve is used on just about every vehicle in the world. It consists of a valve stem into which a valve core is threaded. The valve core is a poppet valve assisted by a spring. Any tube that includes this kind of a valve is easy to use because, for the most part, it requires no adapter with which to use to inflate a tire.
Bicycle tubes may also be equipped with a Presta valve, which is also called a French valve. This type of valve is commonly used in road-style bicycle tubes. It is a little less versatile because of its narrower diameter, which is approximately 6 millimeters. (The Schrader is 8 millimeters.) Since it is associated with road bikes, which have very narrow tires, this kind of a valve may not be the best choice for a tube that is to be used with a beach cruiser bicycle. In addition, the Presta valve also uses a lock nut to make the stem at the wheel rim secure. And, in most cases, it needs an adapter.
Basic and Heavy-Duty Tubes
So, your basic tube is right around $5 or $6. This will get you a standard, or regular, tube, equipped with either a Schrader or a Presta valve. The casual, beach-cruising cyclist should stick with a tube that has a Schrader, though. For a little more than the cost of a top-shelf regular tube, you can purchase a heavy-duty one, which is the way to go -- provided it has a Schrader valve. The tube it much thicker than the regular one, and although it is not impervious, it provides more protection from certain types of flats that come with the proverbial territory of being a cyclist. The heavy-duty tube is also the way to go for a beach cruiser bicycle because it is made of a better grade of rubber, it will last much longer and it will provide the cyclist with more protection from a flat. The recreational, beach-cruising rider would appreciate the peace of mind this kind of tube would provide.
The Best Tube for the Cruiser
To summarize, for a beach cruiser bicycle, the best inner tube to buy is a heavy-duty one, which is equipped with a Schrader valve stem.