Cruiser vs Mountain Bike: What’s the Difference?

cruiser and mountain bike

Cruiser vs Mountain Bike: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to the world of bikes, you have a plethora of options. Two of the most popular options are cruiser and mountain bikes. But a lot of people are confused about how they are different.

So in this article, we will discuss the main difference between cruiser and mountain bikes. These are two very different bikes that serve different purposes.

So let’s get right to it!

Difference Between Cruiser Bike and Mountain Bike 

A cruiser and a mountain bike are poles apart. From looks to mechanics, everything is different. 

Both are great bikes and you might want to buy a cruiser as well as a mountain bike but it depends on the type of cycling you are interested in. 

If you want a bike for light rides around the town, you will need a cruiser bike. On the contrary, if you want to ride uphill or on uneven terrains or climb steep hills, mountain bikes should be your choice. 

Let’s begin by discussing the different functions and purposes of a cruiser and a mountain bike. 

Functionality and Purpose

A cruiser bike, also known as a motobike or beach cruiser, is perfect for casual and leisurely rides, and great for beginners. 

Cruiser bikes are manufactured using balloon tires and often have steel construction. The balloon tires are usually broad and filled with low-pressure air. This makes the tire roll on the surface easily, ensuring a comfortable ride for the rider. 

Due to the heavy bike frame, owing to the metal construction, cruiser bikes are definitely not meant for hilly areas. While most cruiser bikes are made using steel, some of them are also manufactured using aluminum or titanium.

However, steel remains the preferred choice, since it is a lot more durable compared to aluminum and not as pricey as titanium cruiser bikes.

You can check out this steel frame cruiser bike if you plan to go get started.

Schwinn Mikko & Huron Adult Beach Cruiser Bike
  • The Schwinn Mikko & Huron cruiser bike is great for riding around the...
  • Intuitive rear coaster brake (pedal backwards to stop) provides simple stopping...
  • Featuring a wide, dual-spring padded cruiser seat and classic cruiser...
  • The durable steel cruiser frame and fork make for a smooth ride while the...
  • Mikko & Huron comes with a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the...

On the contrary, mountain bikes are not designed for casual and comfortable rides. They are more complex and are meant for off-trail tracks, which the name quite clearly suggests. 

It can handle high speed on uneven terrains. A mountain bike allows you to climb and navigate steep falls. 

Mountain bikes are lightweight but can still take on immense stress.  The best mountain bikes for big guys will allow you to put tremendous pressure on your bike while having a relatively smooth ride.

But if you are serious about biking, we suggest a carbon frame. This will give you the best combination of strength and light weight, while also removing the risk of your frame bending or breaking (common in metal frames).

Number of Gears 

Gears are one of the most important and defining features of a bike. They are responsible for providing power and more speed to the bike.

Mountain bikes need more speed and power. Uneven terrains are not easy to ride on. The different gears are extremely important while you are riding uphill, to maintain the speed and balance the pedaling.  

A mountain bike usually has about 10 to 11 gears with a single chain-ring. The benefit of a single chain ring is that it will be easier to shift gears, and hence just a single shifter will be sufficient.

Hence, to achieve a safe and comfortable ride there, mountain bikes are usually equipped with multiple gears. While the lowest gear is suitable while climbing uphill, the highest gear is best suited for downward travel.  

On the contrary, a cruiser bike is the best fit for providing a stable and casual ride on a comfortable road. Hence, they are equipped with a single gear only.

Thus, since cruiser bikes do not need too much power or speed, one gear is sufficient. They are mostly single-speed bikes with a single gear. 

Cruisers with 3 or 7 gears are also available and if you adjust to high and low gears, you can ride uphill and downhill on your cruiser.

Riding Position 

While riding a cruiser bike, you will have an upright sitting position, just like your chair’s position. This feature makes it comfortable for slow and small rides. Long-distance bicycling does not go well with a cruiser bike. 

If we consider mountain bikes, the sitting position is leaning forward so that you can handle it effectively and enjoy maximum power. You might need a little more flexibility to ride a mountain bike.

You can even stand up while riding a mountain bike because this leaning forward posture allows a stable-weight forward balance.  

Thus, the riding position is dependent on whether you ride a mountain bike or a cruiser bike.


When it comes to the design of bikes, it very much depends on their features and characteristics and also on the price tag that comes along with the bike. 

Cruiser bikes have balloon tires and u-shaped handlebars for providing an upright posture and maximum comfort. Some cruiser bikes are also equipped with a front basket to keep your belongings safe.

On the other hand, to enable climbing, mountain bikes usually come with a front fork or dual suspension and bar end. 

The front fork is a great feature that allows more control of the rider on the bike, and a better tire grip even while riding down the rough slopes. This will take the majority of the rider’s weight.  

The bar ends basically extend the handlebar. This will allow you to move and adjust your hands properly. Bar ends are great while traveling uphill and they make the climb easier. 


The average price of a beach cruiser is around $200-300 whereas, for mountain bikes, it is around $1000. The design of your bike might also depend on the price range that you choose to go for. 

Also, cruiser bikes require lower maintenance than mountain bikes due to fewer complexities in their design. 

The look of a mountain bike exhibits a tough and rugged vibe whereas, in the case of cruiser bikes, they mostly have sophisticated and artsy designs. 

Check out this Beach cruiser bike from Schwinn.

Schwinn Perla Womens Beach Cruiser Bike
  • A steel step-thru cruiser style bike with matching fenders and sweptback...
  • The 7 speed twist shifters will help you climb hills and make easier, The alloy...
  • A quilted seat with springs and trim, soft grips. Upright riding position,...
  • The 26-inch wheels fit riders 64 to 74 inches tall
  • Vintage style, ride around town or at the beach; rear cargo rack to carry your...


Are Cruiser Bikes Good For Long Rides? 

The answer to this question depends a lot on the type of long ride that you are planning for. 

If you are planning for a long ride on a smooth surface like a flat terrain or maybe a beach, then the balloon tires and wide saddle will ensure you a smooth ride. However, the downside of cruiser bikes is that you won’t be able to travel at super high speeds. 

However, cruiser bikes are a big no if you are planning to ride uphill. The reason being that most cruiser bikes come with just a single gear. Hence, you will need more effort as compared to the multi-gear mountain bike while climbing uphill, which can exhaust you. 

Apart from this, cruiser bikes have an upright seating position. This position is not ideal if you want more peddling strength, which is needed while climbing uphill.

Thus, if you are comfortable riding at a slow speed and are riding on a smooth path, then cruiser bikes should be fine. But if you want to ride in a hilly region, and require some speed, then mountain bike sshould be your choice.

Is a Cruiser Bike Good for Trails?

Ideally, cruiser bikes are meant for city riding and comfortable flat roads. They are recommended for low-speed and low impact riding. Dirt paths and paved bike lanes can be easily ridden on a cruiser bike. 

Hence, it is advisable to go on light excursions only with cruiser bikes.

If you are interested in trail riding, then a mountain bike should be your go-to option.

Can I Lose Weight on a Cruiser Bike?

Yes, it is possible to lose weight on a cruiser bike.

Cycling is a very good way of exercising but it is often undermined and assumed to only be about hardcore mountain cycling or races. 

A beach cruiser bike can do wonders. Even 30 minutes of cycling can burn loads of calories. They are comfortable and pleasant but also allow you to have a good workout. Its comforting build enhances a good low-impact workout experience. 

And we guarantee you will feel exhilarated after having a good workout cycling. 

Can You Ride a Cruiser Bike Uphill?

Because of their heavy build and (often) steel construction, cruiser bikes are not the best option if you want to ride uphill. Since it lacks an extensive gear system, riding on uneven terrain can be difficult.

Furthermore, most cruiser bikes come with a coaster brake, which is the brake that you need to pedal backwards to activate. This, obviously, is not the ideal breaking system if you are going up and down hills.

Lighter weight and more gears will be a better choice if you want to ride uphill which is exactly what makes mountain bikes the right choice. They have a lighter bodyweight, around 10 gears and they have been designed to meet the needs of riders who want to ride uphill. 

Frames are also typically 3 or 4 inches lower on mountain bikes, allowing you a lower center of gravity while riding uphill.

Why are Cruiser Bikes so Popular? 

Cruiser bikes have become increasingly popular due to their old school vibe and distinct design. Some people like the wide, curvy handlebars while others like the fatter tires.

Other cruisers have fenders, which is another distinct (and useful) feature to keep out mud.

It is meant for inter-city and small rides and is very comfortable. 


So now you know what makes a cruiser bike and a mountain bike poles apart from each other.

A cruiser vs mountain bike comparison is very essential to make an informed choice. Always prioritize your needs and then decide which bike you want to buy. Don’t just buy a bike because you are obsessing over one feature of it. You might have to regret it later! 

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