Mountain Bike vs Cruiser For Exercise-Which Is Better?


Are you unable to decide which bike is better for exercise, between a mountain bike and a cruiser?

Well, if you are an aggressive exerciser and staying fit is your priority then a mountain bike is your answer. But if you are an occasional exerciser and just want to stay active then a cruiser bike would be the best fit for you. 

In this article I’ll take a look at the main differences between mountain bikes and cruisers, the many different things they can do, and give you all the information possible on which might be best for you.

Mountain bike vs cruiser for exercise

Mountain Bike Vs Cruiser – Which One is Better for Exercise?

Bike riding usually serves as a low-impact workout. So, you can not only enjoy a full-body workout but also increase flexibility, reduce mental blocks, strengthen your muscles, and fight fatigue.

If you are not an aggressive exerciser and just want to keep up your physical activity during the holidays, then a cruiser bike might be an ideal choice for you.

They are a great way of keeping yourself active in a low-key way while being on vacation. 

However, cruisers don’t usually come with a diverse variety of gears that can help you climb hills.

But you can still get rid of those extra calories by riding on paths with a little incline, which can provide some resistance. If you do want to take help from gears, then you can get your bike upgraded with gears, but you will have to bear some extra cost. 

If you are a regular exerciser who likes being fit, then a mountain bike is the perfect choice for you.

This is because good-quality mountain bikes will always handle and perform better than cruiser bikes. They are built for rough and steep terrains that can give you an excellent cardio workout while riding up and down the hills. 

Moreover, due to the presence of a variety of gears and powerful suspensions, mountain bikes are a great way to travel as well as exercise.

Mountain bikes can help you strengthen your muscles and increase stamina. They are great on rougher terrains for exercise and provide an equally good experience on roads as well. 

Let’s take deep dive into exactly what a mountain bike and a cruiser are, and then some differences between the two:

What is a Cruiser Bike?

Cruiser bikes were introduced in the 1930s by Frank W. Schwinn (Source).

As the name suggests, they were designed for cruising, but at a relatively low speed. They contain features that help make a bike comfortable and easy to ride.

Due to this, these bikes became popular among the general population.

They are also often seen along promenades at the beach, which gave them their other name i.e., beach cruisers. 

Moreover, these bikes are often customizable. This allows you to add different features including bottle cages, luggage racks, bike lights, and front as well as rear fenders.

However, some specific features make these bikes unique. These features include balloon tires, curved handlebars, oversized saddles, and coaster brakes. 

What is a Mountain Bike?

Mountain bikes are a more common choice, both among experts and beginners. They have a relatively lighter and sturdier frame, multiple gears, and broad deep-treated tires.

As the name suggests, they were designed to ride on mountainous terrain and for other rough, off-road terrains. 

Since their introduction a few decades ago, these bikes have gone through some significant changes and innovations, perhaps even more than any other type of bike.

Since then, they have also rapidly evolved into a versatile and all-rounder bike, which is why these are preferred by everyone, from beginners to professionals.  

Key Features of a Cruiser Bike

Here are some of the important features of cruiser bikes: 

Frame

The frames of cruiser bikes are usually a bit larger than that of other bikes. These frames are usually made of steel; however, the more modern designs contain aluminum frames for an easy and lighter ride.

The overall weight of a cruiser bike depends on its frame, but usually, its weight is around 40-50 pounds (Source).

There are two main types of frames that you can find in cruiser bikes: a step-through frame and a regular frame, which is similar to other bikes and is also the most common type. 

Tires

Tires in a cruiser bike play an important role when it comes to making a ride comfortable.

The most common form of tires found on these bikes are balloon tires as they can easily traverse over debris, without getting punctured.

These balloon tires are a bit wider than the regular tires that are found on other bikes. This helps in adding stability and much smoother rides. 

Saddle

Cruiser bikes are known for their comfortable seating.

Their saddles are generally well-cushioned, shaped nicely, and oversized to provide more sitting area. These features make them ideal for pleasant rides.

They also come with dual-spring systems, which adds to the comfort and allows seats to move a bit and act as shock absorbers. 

Key Features of a Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes are one of the most common choices, due to their different characteristics and components. Some of the most important features of mountain bikes are:

Frames

Generally, the frames of mountain bikes are built to be rugged so that they can withstand harsh conditions or accidents.

The design and shape of the frame depend on the type of mountain bike that you opt for.

Usually, materials of the frame also vary from bike to bike, however, the most prevalent one is aluminum as it ensures the lightweight of a mountain bike. Additionally, carbon fiber and steel are also used in more high-end models. 

Tires

Mountain bikes usually have very durable tires with knobby tread designs, which helps with traction (Source).

In these bikes, the front tires often come with angled tread in the middle, which allows for better steering and the rear tires come with horizontal tread. This feature allows for the tires to dig into the ground while accelerating.

The majority of mountain bikes utilize a standard tube system, which helps them stay inflated, but recently, tubeless tires have also become a popular choice due to their resistance. 

Saddle 

Although people who ride mountain bikes spend most of their time off the saddle while riding, it is still an important component of the bike.

Mountain bikes usually have wider saddles than road bikes, and they offer more padding as well. Their seat posts also come with small shock absorbers for a comfortable ride. 

Cruiser vs. Mountain Bike

There are a few similarities between cruiser and mountain bikes, but the differences are more noteworthy. If we take performance, cost, make, and comfort into account then they are significantly different from one another. 

In terms of usage, cruiser bikes are generally more convenient as compared to other types of bikes.

They are ideal for beginners as they are designed to be comfort-oriented and require very little maintenance.

Their frames are usually made of durable materials like steel alloys or aluminum. These materials ensure the longevity of the frames and help them last for years, even with consistent usage.

Moreover, their handlebars allow riders to sit in an upright position as comfort and relaxation are the priority here. 

Cruiser bikes also come with a slightly large seat with springs and extra-wide balloon tires, both of which provide a smooth ride and help cushion rough pavement lumps.

However, although cruiser bikes are suitable for riding on different terrains, one can still feel constrained by them while riding up the hills. This is because these bikes come with a single-speed drivetrain and framework (Source). 

In mountain bikes, the handlebar and seat angle depends on the model of the bike.

Generally, they provide the rider with a more angular position, which is ideal for speed and helps you get through challenging terrains.

However, if the concern is the ease of usage, then one can find mountain bikes a bit more complicated than cruiser bikes. This is mainly because the diverse range of gears, which is usually ideal for speeding and climbing up and down the hills, might be hard to grasp for beginners. 

Cruiser bike by sea
Cruiser bikes are a simple choice for easy hassle-free cycling

Differences Between Mountain Bikes and Cruiser Bikes

Whether you choose a mountain bike or a cruiser bike, it all depends on your needs and purpose for buying a bike.

Here is a list of differences and factors that can help you decide, which bike would be right for you:

Cost

Cruiser bikes are made for the general population, they are meant for inner-city roads and sidewalks, which are designed to be used for multiple purposes and by multiple users.

While mountain bikes are also capable of navigating city roads, they are designed for much rougher terrains.

Therefore, the gears and suspension of mountain bikes are also more durable. 

However, mountain bikes come with several unique features that make them much more expensive than cruiser bikes.

Hence, typically, you can expect to pay up to $3,000 for a mountain bike. Cruiser bikes, on the other hand, can be much more budget-friendly costing around $500 or even less than that. 

Sitting Position

Cruiser bikes allow riders to have a more upright sitting position or posture, which is similar to our position when seated on a chair.

This posture is ideal for riders who enjoy watching their surroundings while riding. However, it becomes uncomfortable and inefficient, if you have to travel long distances. 

On the other hand, mountain bikes allow you to lean forward which provides more power, the ability to climb steep slopes efficiently, and superior handling.

This posture also allows riders to stand up and keep an ideal balance while riding the bike.

Gears

Mountain bikes are more expensive than cruiser bikes because the former can outperform the latter.

This is because cruiser bikes come with fewer gears, which gives mountain bikes an advantage over them in terms of speed and agility.

In addition to that, mountain bikes also come with shock absorbers on the front, and some even have them on the rear. This makes them much more stable on dirt or rocks. 

However, these shock absorbers don’t make much of a difference, once both the bikes are on the pavement. Another important thing to consider here is the brakes.

While common cruiser bikes come with brakes on the pedals, mountain bikes come with hand-operated brakes. You can also opt for a cruiser with hand brakes, but you will need to pay extra for it.

Aesthetics

Both bikes have their own aesthetic and look beautiful in their ways.

But if you are a fan of colors, then cruiser bikes will catch your attention as they come with beautiful paint jobs and artwork.

They flaunt graceful lines painted with creamy pastel, candy, pearl, or metal flake paint, which makes them into exquisite works of art. 

Mountain bikes, on the other hand, usually have tough looks. Some people may even find them stocky with aggressive-looking large knobby tires.

They also come with racing logos on frames, geometry, and equipment that may look like they are made out of monster trucks. Their overall look can be described as rugged.

Conclusion

All in all, both mountain bikes and cruiser bikes have their advantages and qualities as both are unique in their ways.

Though they are significantly different from one another based on their purpose, make, cost, and equipment.

If you are a regular exerciser and are looking for a bike to help you stay fit, then mountain bikes are an ideal choice for you.

But if you want to stay active and fit but do not require any aggressive workout routines, then cruiser bikes will be a great option for you.

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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