Beach Cruiser Bike Guide – Aluminum vs. Steel

As a Beach Cruiser enthusiast, I am often asked about the difference between an Aluminum Beach Cruiser and a Steel Beach Cruiser. This article will highlight the differences in various beach cruises and make some recommendations.

Years ago, most bicycles were made in the United States. Beach Cruisers from Schwinn, Electra, Nirve and many others had a strong presence in the US Beach Cruiser market. Those days are gone.

Almost all bicycles are made in China or Taiwan. The same plant that is manufacturing strollers today can be remodeled and manufacturing beach cruisers tomorrow. This has had two dramatic effects on the US beach cruise market: First, the price of Beach Cruiser bikes has fallen dramatically in the last thirty years when adjusted for inflation. Unfortunately also the quality. Today’s market is a “buyer beware” market and is full of bikes that years ago would not have passed quality control standards. Part of this is due to the disposable nature of our society. Few people anticipate keeping their bike for more than a season or two. Most beach cruisers will see a life cycle of 1 to 2 seasons and will then be placed in the back of the garage or carport until discarded.

However, for those looking for quality, I suggest two approaches. First, examine the welds on the bike. Cheaper bikes show puddles of solder at the joints and don’t have the fine, smooth solders that are done on their quality models. Second, (and maybe it’s just me) I have observed that bicycles produced in mainland China do not have the same quality controls in place as beach cruisers produced in Taiwan. Although, the reasons I have attributed this to mainland China’s relatively new introduction to free enterprise markets are controversial. Hopefully in a few years Chinese manufacturers will implement quality controls so that all beach cruiser bike “tours” have quality control and not just a few. For now, the buyer should be careful.

As for the difference between steel and aluminum beach cruisers, you can expect to pay a little more for an aluminum beach cruise. If you are looking for a lightweight beach cruiser that is rust resistant, then the aluminum beach cruiser may be exactly what you are looking for. People who live on the beach or who take their beach cruise to the beach regularly will benefit from this technology. The downside is that most manufacturers have a much wider selection of steel beach cruisers than aluminum beach cruisers. As a result, most customers who have a limited life expectancy for their beach cruise will be happier with the larger selection of steel beach cruises.

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