Some of the first bikes ever to be designed are the cruiser bikes, and almost all bikes can trace their heritage and lineage back to that of the cruiser bike.
While these might seem like they have similar features, there are enormous differences between modern mountain bikes and some of the all-time cruiser bikes. So, cruiser bike vs. mountain bike; how do they differ?
The main difference between the cruiser and mountain bike is the frame, geometry, and suspension of these bikes. A mountain bike needs a less rigid suspension and should be more comfortable for riding off-road terrains. Alternatively, the cruiser is only made for riding around town, and you hardly put much strain on them.
While this might seem simple enough, we should look closer at each of these bikes to directly understand some of these differences.
This article aims to help you better understand some of these differences and ensure that if you decide to buy one bike or the other, you choose the ideal one.
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Cruiser Bike Vs. Mountain Bike: What Are They?
To better understand the differences between each bike, we should look at the main purpose of each. This would require us to delve deeper into the construction and why these bikes are essentially made.
By breaking down the different bikes and looking at each by themselves, we can gain some form of an understanding of why they are different.
What Is a Cruiser Bike?
The main purpose of the cruiser bike is to allow the rider to ride the bike around town comfortably. Additionally, cruiser bikes have slimmer tires than their mountain bike competitors and don’t have as much traction. Unfortunately, control and handling are not one of the top priorities for the designers of these bikes.
Essentially, the cruiser bike is designed for families looking to cruise around town. Their frames are often made from steel, which makes them pretty heavy. Yes, this does mean they have more durability, but they also lack the complex drivetrains of other bikes.
In all honesty, the cruiser bike is designed to be cheap and low maintenance.
Furthermore, riding a cruiser bike is an excellent way to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended.
What Is a Mountain Bike?
Even though the lineage of the mountain bike can be traced back to that of the cruiser bike, these bikes are extremely different in overall design and value offer. The mountain bike serves the main purpose of riding off-road terrains, and they have a durable frame with numerous shocks for the suspension.
The knobby tires will work when you use them on the tarmac, but they often wear out much faster. The main purpose of mountain bikes is to be used for off-road racing and to overcome various obstacles.
Essentially, one of the main features of these bikes is to give you the utmost versatility you could need when riding.
Finally, mountain bikes are generally more expensive than your cruiser as well, but we will get into these specifications in a second.
Also, mountain biking enhances mental health and promotes well-being, found a 2018 study.
If you are worried about safety when mountain biking, I wrote a whole article about mountain bike safety that I encourage you to read.
Main Differences Between The Cruiser Bike And Mountain Bike
Now that you understand the different purposes of each, we should look at which key differences each bike brings to the table.
To give you a deeper dive into these differences, we have broken them down according to each bike’s shared traits and features. Now, you can clearly understand how each of these bikes differs from one another.
When we compare the cruiser bike and the mountain bike frames to that of the road bike, we will notice that the frame on a cruiser bike has much more upright geometry. The mountain bike will have a similar type of frame.
The idea is that the geometry increases the handling of the bike, which is especially true for the mountain bike.
The cruiser bike is one of the bikes with the most relaxed frame geometries, and since the bike is mainly designed for comfort, it is easy to see why the geometry is built in such a fashion.
Unfortunately, the cruiser bike will mostly assist you with comfort, and it does not bode well for those seeking control and speed.
2- Tires And Wheels
One of the main differences that should be easily noticeable when comparing cruiser and mountain bikes is the wheels and tires.
The wheels and tires are slightly thicker for the mountain bike and have a knobby design, making them more suitable for off-road conditions and riding.
On the other hand, the cruiser bike does not have the same thickness of wheels or tires, and they are mostly designed for riding on tarmac surfaces.
You won’t have the same knobby tires, which means that the cruiser tires would be slick and faster. Since they are wider than those road bikes, they also tend to be more puncture-resistant.
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3- Suspension Design
The bike’s suspension is extremely important for mountain bike riders, making it even harder for riders to choose the right mountain bike.
There are two common mountain bike suspension designs, one being the full suspension design and the other being the hardtail design. The full suspension is a dual suspension system located on the bike’s front and rear.
Unfortunately, cruiser bikes do not typically have a suspension, so doing rocky off-road terrains could be a daunting and tough prospect for many riders.
While you could force a suspension onto a cruiser bike with some ingenuity, you will find that most cruiser bikes do not have a natural suspension added.
4- Gear Systems
No matter which bike you have, the drivetrain is often one of the most important components to keep in mind.
For a mountain bike, we can find a variety of drivetrain alternatives, which often include brands like Shimano and SRAM providing different drivetrain combinations for their riders. Depending on the bike and the manufacturer, these can range from 8-speed to 30-speed drivetrains.
On the other hand, the cruiser bike is far more modest, and these bikes rarely feature a solid drivetrain.
Most cruiser bikes will only have one gear, which has led to them also being called the single-speed bikes of the modern generation. One of the benefits is that it is much easier to ride a single-speed bike without too much experience.
I am sure that you all appreciate the value of good brakes for your bike, and the better your brake, the more value it should add to your bike.
For a cruiser bike, you would often rely on the coaster brake in many cases. However, some other high-end brands could also offer you the caliper brakes for the cruiser bike.
You have a combination of V-brakes for mountain bikes, which many people could prefer. However, you might also have to look into the disc brakes.
Mountain bikes’ disc brakes are some of the best brakes on the market today, and they offer the most consistent and useful stopping power for any cyclist on the road today.
See also: Top 9 Mountain Bikes For Heavy Riders (And what to look for when picking one!)
6- Handlebar Design
The handlebars of a bike are just as important as any other aspect of the bike. For mountain bike riders, a flat or riser handlebar is the most common, and this is due to making it more comfortable for the rider when riding aggressively. These handlebars might also sweep or curve backward while providing a flatter design for the grip.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have the cruiser bike handlebars, and these handlebars are mostly flat handlebars.
With a cruiser bike, you could often see the U-shaped handlebar as well, but you will have a deeper seating position on the frame. The main idea is to give the rider some form of comfort whilst they are riding their bike.
Another difference between mountain and cruiser bikes is the price. A brand-new mountain bike is more expensive than a cruiser bike because of the extra features.
Generally, a mountain bike will cost between $500 to $8,000. Some mountain bike features include lighter and faster-performing gears and brakes, a lighter frame, longer-lasting tires and rims, and high-end suspension systems.
A cruiser bike is typically less expensive, usually from $300 to $1,500. Brand name and looks are the most critical factors that affect a cruiser bike’s price.
8- Sitting Position
You sit almost straight up with a cruiser bike, similar to sitting in a chair, which is excellent for riding slow, exploring, and enjoying the outdoors.
On the other hand, you lean into a forward tilt position with a mountain bike, allowing more power and better handling with the ability to climb steep hills. In addition, a forward tilt position allows you to stand up on your mountain bike.
However, standing up on a cruiser is challenging to maintain, making the bike handle poorly and can even cause you to crash because of the vertical position of your body.
See also: 6 Best Electric Mountain Bikes Under $3000.
Should I Buy a Mountain Bike Or Cruiser Bike?
One of the decisions you might have to deal with is whether you should buy a cruiser bike or a mountain bike. It is hard for us to determine which of them would work best for your needs. The mountain bike is the most versatile of all the bikes on the market today, and while the knobby tires don’t work well on the tarmac, it is still usable.
The cruiser bike is one of the cheapest bikes on the market today, and you will rarely see any unique or mind-blowing features present. Fortunately, the cruiser bikes will be ideal for those beginners that simply want to cruise around town for a couple of miles before heading back home. In essence, the mountain bike should be better for the more dedicated rider.
So which one should you buy, a mountain bike or a cruiser bike? Before choosing between a mountain bike and a cruiser bike, ask where you want to ride?
- If your answer is on-road, I suggest you choose a cruiser bike. A cruiser will be an excellent choice if the roads are flat and the casual riding.
- Suppose you plan to head into the mountains and be adventurous in the dirt. In that case, I recommend you choose a mountain bike because a mountain bike can handle the broadest range of terrain while still being comfortable and durable.
Which Is Better, a Cruiser Or Mountain Bike?
Cruiser bikes are excellent for leisure and outdoor riding around town or on the beach, whereas mountain bikes are better suited for adventurous off-road riding or racing. In addition, mountain bikes generally have wider tires and suspension designs that help absorb bumps and shocks, which makes them ideal for rough terrain.
However both mountain bikes and cruiser bikes are excellent ways to enjoy the outdoors while exercising, but mountain bikes are the more effective cardio workout.
The table below shows mountain bike and cruiser bike characteristics:
|Features||Mountain Bike||Cruiser Bike|
|General Uses||– Mountain climbing|
– Sports training
– Touring or commuting
|– Exploring city |
– Leisure riding and errands
– Short-distance commuting
|Design||– Flat or upright handlebars|
– Shock absorbers or suspension
– Low gear range
|– Upright riding position|
– Large and comfortable seat
– Old-fashioned coaster brake
|Suitable terrain||Rough off-road trails||Relatively flat roads|
|Tires||Exceptionally wide tires||Generally wide “balloon” tires|
Choosing between the cruiser bike and mountain is not something you often have to deal with. These two bikes serve different purposes; one is far more expensive than the other.
However, we hope this article has given you some insight, and now you might know which of these bikes would work best for you.
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