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The spandex-clad 40-somethings are out in packs on their Pinarellos. The tri-geeks are already returning from their morning ride on their tricked out Wilier Twinblades. You’re just waking up, you smell of last night’s epic pig roast, and you need an iced coffee from a few blocks down before you can function like a responsible human. What you need is a cruiser: a bike with a laid-back geometry, fluffy tires, fuss-free construction and resort-quality styling. Maybe even a cup holder and somewhere to stash a bagel. These five rides will do the trick.
Schwinn Town and Country
Best Adult Tricycle: There’s no sense in beating around the bush: this is an adult tricycle. But it’s a damn civilized one. The Town and Country is an aluminum 26er with a coaster brake and a three-speed twist shift (take that Di2!); more importantly, it has a spacious rear basket and an integrated cup holder and bottle opener. Ride this bike to the country store to load up on comestibles and then let the summer vacationing begin.
Best Contemporary Cruiser: Felt makes serious bikes, and they’re better known for their road and tri models than for anything in the lifestyle category — but there’s good fun to be had there. The Burner is designed after early mountain bikes and has the burly 29-inch tires that are all the hype on the trails today. That inspiration is built into a bike anchored by a cantilever aluminum frame with a throwback Sturmey Archer 2-speed kick back coaster brake (it shifts before the brake engages). It’s a recreational bike that looks serious.
Best Chopper Cruiser: Cycling to the Hawaiian ice stand isn’t a damn joke to you. You’re going to roll up to that purveyor of refreshing summer treats like a boss and have seconds with extra Lemon-Lime syrup. Everyone will get our of your way if you’re on the Nirve Switchblade, a chopper-style cruiser made of hi-tensile steel and kitted with a coaster brake in the back, disc brake in the front and a three-speed Shimano Revoshift gear system. Both the grips and the saddle are embossed with tribal patterns.
Fuji Cape May
Editor’s Pick: Simple, stylish and affordable, the Cape May has cushy 26-inch tires, a rear coaster brake, sweep back handlebars, a rust-resistant chain and a simple, single-speed drivetrain. This bike is your summer workhorse.
Best Cruiser for Dandies: By now Detroit-based Shinola is a well-known bike maker for the leisure set, particularly with their Runwell. $1,000 cheaper and with a more laid-back (but not Switchblade laid-back) frame inspired by cruiser bikes, the Bixby has an American-made steel frame and fork, backsweep handlebars, leather grips, Shimano components (mechanical disc brakes, levers, shifters), a Shimano three-speed internal hub, leather saddle and fancy touches like a bell and alloy fenders. This is a bike you can comfortably park at the country club.