Beach cruiser bikes have an interesting history. In the early 1930s, they came out of nowhere. They peaked in the 1950s and quickly faded in the 1960s. Their death seemed imminent until they experienced a rebirth in the late 1990s. Today, they’re seen as classics, but let’s go back to how this all started first.
With fewer roadways and shorter commutes, bicycles were very important and popular in the 1920s and 1930s. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, people needed to make budget cuts in order to be able to feed their families. Most of the time, bicycles were one of the first things to go. Bicycle revenue was in serious decline. Keep in mind, the forms of excess entertainment we have now were not available.
The popularity of the bicycle made a comeback in 1933. This is the year that Schwinn came out with the Schwinn B-10E Motorbike – a beach cruiser bike. The bike was basically a motorcycle without a motor. It was extremely durable, and more importantly, affordable. In 1934, Schwinn came out with the Aero Cycle, which was basically an upgrade of the B-10E Motorbike.
As the years went on and the bikes continued to sell, Schwinn kept designing bikes that would fit in the ‘beach cruisers bike’ category. They also made women’s beach cruiser bikes. Their most popular version was the pink beach cruiser bike.
After seeing Schwinn’s success, other companies like Roadmaster, Huffy, Columbia, Monark and Shelby got into the game. Beach cruiser bikes were at their peak in those years -- from the 30s to the 50s. In the 1950s, they especially became useful for paperboys and couriers.
Like any other product that experiences unparalleled popularity, the beach cruiser bike eventually began to fade. This took place in the early 1960s, when Great Britain began designing bikes that were lighter, more agile, and just as durable as the beach cruisers. Suddenly, there was no need for anyone to own a beach cruiser, especially after the great economic boom after World War II, when people could afford more expensive options.
Around 1999, beach bikes came back onto the scene. Price and use weren’t the selling points anymore. At that point, they were looked at as classics. They’re still selling relatively well today for this reason. Of course, nothing like they used to, but still a significant boost, which proves that beach cruisers might withstand the test of time. Very few products can say the same.
If you’re ever trying to spot a beach cruiser bike, they often have balloon tires, chrome fenders, a chain-guard, a large saddle, an upright seat posture, a fender light, and have steel construction. They are single speed and are heavy and durable.
The most interesting thing about beach cruiser bikes is that they will forever have placed a stamp of an important piece of time in United States history. Beach cruiser bikes were an invention that helped people get by in the most difficult of times.