How to Size a Beach Cruiser Bike

Retro styled sepia image of a vintage bicycle
A beach cruiser bicycle. (Image: DutchScenery/iStock/Getty Images)

Beach cruiser bicycles came to popularity in the late 1990s, although the original design dates to the 1930s. Cruiser bikes feature balloon tires, single-speed gearing, an upright seated posture and are commonly made with steel painted with colorful designs. This style of bicycle, with its wide seat, is built for riders who prioritize comfort over performance and speed. Selecting the correct size beach cruiser bike involves matching the bike's frame to height and reach of the rider.

Step 1

Match the correct bicycle frame to your height. A 15-inch frame will fit adults ranging in height from 4 feet to 5-foot-4. Frames in the range of 15 to 21 inches will fit adults from 5 feet to 6-foot. Adults over 6 feet tall may require an extended frame.

Step 2

Straddle the bicycle with the approximately correct frame size, putting the left foot on the floor and the right foot on the right pedal.

Step 3

Grasp the handlebars and shift your weight back until you are sitting completely on the seat. Your left leg is now supporting your weight.

Step 4

Rotate the right pedal until it is in the bottom position. At this point, the right leg should almost be straight yet still have a slight bend in the knee. If the leg is bent, raise the seat until the leg is in the correct position. If the leg is straight, or if you are only contacting the pedal with your toes in the bottom position, lower the seat. The seat is typically lowered by loosening the seat post bracket under the seat. This can be done by hand or with an Allen or hex wrench, depending on the bicycle's manufacturer.

Step 5

Place the right foot on the ground and put the left foot on the left pedal, rotating the pedal to the bottom position. Make sure there is a slight bend in the left knee to confirm the seat is set at the correct height. It is not uncommon for people to have one leg slightly shorter than the other so set the seat height for the shorter leg.

Step 6

Adjust the handlebars up or down by raising or lowering the front stem so the hands are near chest level when resting on the handlebar. This allows the rider to sit in an upright position.

Tip

Make sure you can quickly put at least one foot solidly on the ground when you are fully seated on the bike and lean to one side. This is critical for safety when making quick stops.

Warning

Even though beach cruiser bikes are ridden at slower speeds than road or mountain bikes, you will still be riding in automotive or pedestrian traffic so always wear an ANSI-certified bicycle helmet to protect your head.

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