Cruiser culture |

Cruiser culture

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Nice ride.With white-wall tires, alloy rims, chrome fenders and pin stripes, cruiser bicycles offer as much personality as a classic hot rod at a drive-in.”These bikes offer new stylings, new attitude,” said Darin Binion, co-owner of The Gear Exchange in Glenwood Springs. “People are looking for urban-style commuting literally there’s any kind of bike out there.”Cruiser bikes also come as eye-catching as a surfboard, emblazoned with island hibiscus and the soft colors of an ocean sunset. Leather, double-spring seats embossed with floral designs, bike bells and front baskets make cruisers a favorite of casual female riders.”We’ve got cruisers in powder colors with flowers,” said Dane Garvik, a sales associate for Ajax Bike and Sports in Carbondale. “And we’ve got bikes that look like old-school, ’50s hot rods with flames and pin stripes.”Dan Bon, president of Nirve Sports Limited, a southern California manufacturer of cruiser bikes sold at The Gear Exchange, said the bikes appeal to all ages especially riders with an eye for style.”We’ve added a lot of fashion to our product, which hadn’t really been done before,” said Bon, via telephone from his West Coast offices. “It’s not about a techy product, it’s about how beautiful it is. It’s like a piece of clothing.”Cruisers, Bon said, have been popular on the West Coast for the last decade, especially among the surf crowd. That explains why much of surfing’s artistic design elements are prominent in the current crop of cruiser bikes.

“Instead of making a bicycle, we look at this as a lifestyle product, one influenced by the surf industry,” Bon said. “And you don’t need to be by the ocean to have a piece of the surf lifestyle. They’re casual, fun.”Bon said cruisers not only attract the female demographic for their looks, but the male gender appreciate the bikes, too.”For the guys, it’s a different emotion,” he said. “With the guys, you’ll see surf influences, surf-oriented graphics. There’s some wild, young stuff out there you’ll see more traditional surf designs other than flowery designs. You also see bikes resembling hot-rod automobiles, chopper-type motorcycles, graphics that emulate motorcycle designs. They’re fun, and they’re different than you’ll see on other types of bicycles.” According to Bon, the bicycle industry, in the cruiser category, is up 9 percent in dollars spent. He said the cruiser’s attractive appearance, along with user-friendly charm, make for a great ride.”It offers a comfortable riding position so people aren’t bent over, a comfortable saddle so you can enjoy the scenery, and wide tires for a comfortable ride,” he said. “There isn’t a person I know who doesn’t have a smile on their face when they come back from a spin around the block on a cruiser.”Garvik said cruisers afford bicyclists of any age, any gender, the chance to revisit their childhood.”We have people who haven’t owned a bike in years come in and say, ‘I used to have an old Schwinn that looked like that,'” he said. “It’s that kid mentality of still being able to ride a bike like that as an adult – being able to be a kid again on a bike.”Along with the retro-style of the cruiser, Binion said rising gas prices play a big part in the bicycle’s popularity. He has been a bike commuter for years, especially since he co-bought the shop a little more than a year ago.

“The more gas prices rise, the more business. That’s job security for me,” he said. “With the (cruiser’s) styling and the cost of gas, people don’t mind spending $200 or $300 on a bike if it’s going to save them money on gas and car maintenance. I personally think everyone should ride a bike. Get out and ride your bike.”Binion said prices for cruisers at the Gear Exchange range from $270 to $520 for new models, and $50 to $300 for vintage bikes. He figures they’ve sold at least 100 new and 100 used cruisers, or townies, as they’re sometimes called, since March. He likes the new styles, but also appreciates vintage models.”One of my own personal favorites is my ’53 Schwinn, single speed, regular coaster brakes,” he said. “I have a ’60s Spaceliner in here right now that’s all chromed out.”Garvik said Ajax’s cruisers are all priced under $400, mostly in the mid-$300s, and like a car can come as souped-up as a customer chooses.”You can get light-up tail lights like old Cadillacs had, chrome fenders, matching white leather seats and grips, white-wall tires,” he said. “There’s no point in doing it if you don’t look good.” Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext.

Who: Anyone riding a cruiser bikeWhat: KDNK Blues & BBQ’s cruiser bike raceWhen: 6:30 p.m. SaturdayWhere: Meet at the Fourth Street Plaza, Carbondale

Once a month, on a full moon, riders in the Moonlight Cruisers Bicycle Club in Carbondale casually convene for a nighttime community bike ride. Bicyclists on cruisers head out at 9 p.m. from Ute City Cycles, in the La Fontana Plaza off Highway 133, for a moonlight bike ride through town.

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