Mountain Bike Vs Cruiser : Understanding the Difference

History has it that the first mountain bikes on the market were a modification of a cruiser bike. With technological advancements, the manufacturers of mountain bikes have made them versatile and best for the off-roading experience. The changes have brought about the difference between a mountain bike vs cruisers. But what are the different features of these two bicycles?

Mountain Bike Vs Cruiser

Mountain Bike Vs Cruiser

A mountain bike has wider, thicker tires that can handle the tough terrain it’s designed for. It also has flat handlebars and 1x setup gear. However, a cruiser bike is a single-speed bike owing to its one gear, has no suspension, and is very comfortable to ride.

If you plan to buy any of these bikes and find it challenging to know their difference, this guide will help you understand that.

Understanding A Mountain Bike

If you want to differentiate between a mountain bike vs cruiser bike, you’ve got first to understand their basics. A mountain bike is a popular bicycle used by both pro cyclists and beginners. It has a lightweight, stronger frame with several gears plus thick treaded tires. This type of bike works best on mountainous trails or off-road terrain.

Understanding A Mountain Bike

Understanding A Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes have been in the market for years and have undergone many changes to give them excellent performance. It is the only bike that has undergone more changes than the rest, and the changes have seen it become an all-rounded bike with more people using it now.

Key Features of a Mountain Bike

When selecting the best bike for you, you must consider several factors. For example, to get the perfect choice between a mountain bike vs cruiser, you need to look at the features that make them stand out.

The features of a mountain bike include;


The frames of mountain bikes are stronger to withstand the rugged trail where they are designed to be used. The frame can be made of aluminum or any material, depending on the manufacturer and the type you settle for. However, high-end mountain bikes are made of steel or carbon fiber.


The saddles of mountain bikes are wider and padded, offering more comfort on the rough trail. The seat posts also have shock absorbers for better cushioning.


The tires of mountain bikes have knobby tread and are durable, with some having puncture-protected layers to have them last longer. The rear tires of a mountain bike have horizontal tread, enabling it to have a better grip while accelerating.

Most mountain bikes also have a tube that keeps them inflated. However, the newer tires are tubeless and more popular because of their excellent resistance.

Maybe you also like:

Understanding A Cruiser Bike

Frank W. Schwinn designed cruiser bikes in the 1930s. Its design meant it was to be used for cruising at a slower speed. The design and features that makes it a comfortable bike made them popular in the market, with most people opting for it.

Understanding A Cruiser Bike

Understanding A Cruiser Bike

You will likely meet a cruiser at the beach, which is why they have another name, ‘beach cruiser.’ Since these bikes allow you to customize them, you can introduce features like a rack, fenders, or lighting.

Key Features of Cruiser

The main features of a cruiser include;


A cruiser’s frame is bigger than those of other bikes and is made of steel, with some being aluminum. The frames determine the bike’s overall weight, usually about 40-50 pounds. Cruiser bikes have two types of frames: step-through and regular frames. The standard frame on cruiser bikes is similar to the other types of bikes.


The cruiser bike tires enable you to stay comfortable on the trail. Most cruiser bikes use balloon tires, which can go over dirt without getting punctures. Such tires are more comprehensive than regular tires, help improve stability, and offer smooth rides.


The saddle of a cruiser bike is comfortable as they’re padded and in good shape. They are also oversized to provide more seating areas, making fun rides enjoyable. What’s more about these saddles is the dual spring system, which acts as a shock absorber and brings more comfort.

Difference Between Mountain Bike Vs Cruiser

The best way to differentiate between mountain bikes and cruises is by looking at their common features. You should compare features like;

Frame Geometry

You might have difficulty differentiating between the frame of a mountain bike vs cruiser because they’ve similar geometry. The frames make you ride in an upright posture. However, there is a slight difference between the two frames.

A mountain bike frame allows you to overcome the challenging trail comfortably. It has a longer reach and a slack head angle, which allows you to control the bike at a higher speed while maintaining the center of gravity. The stems of mountain bikes are also shorter, while the handlebars are wider, improving the overall leverage.

Cruiser bikes also have wider handlebars near the saddle, enabling cyclists to maintain an upright posture while on the go. It also has a relaxed seat tube angle, ensuring you remain comfortable on the trail.

You can notice the difference between the two bike frames when covering a long distance or going uphill, as the cruiser will allow you to be more upright.

The Wheels and Tires

A mountain bike’s wheels and tires are designed for easy cruising the mountainous trails. They are durable, more comprehensive, and lightweight to overcome the corners and bumpy tracks. The wheel clearance is also bigger, enabling the bigger tires to work effortlessly. A mountain bike can accommodate 48mm tires with ease.

Additionally, the tires are knobby to offer good traction on off-roads. The tires are also thicker than road or gravel bikes, with some having puncture-protected sidewalls for better performance on the rough trail.

However, the wheels and tires of a cruiser bike are designed for a smooth paved trail. This means they have slick tires moving faster on the tarmac road. The tires are also more comprehensive and have puncture-resistant sidewalls for comfort when using this bike.

Cruiser bikes are not meant to move at higher speeds, so they don’t have lighter and thinner tires, increasing the risk of getting a puncture. This means they are heavy and large tires that guarantee no punch while enjoying a ride.


Another difference between a mountain bike vs cruiser lies in their gears. Mountain bikes have more gears, bigger cassettes, and several front-ring combinations. Most mountain bikes have the 1x setup, indicating they have one front chainring and more rear cassettes like a 10-48T. This allows you to pedal at a comfortable cadence ranging from 4mph to 20mph. So, you’ll have more gear range than on a cruiser bike.

A cruiser has one gear, which makes it popularly known as a single-speed bike. This will be advantageous and disadvantageous at the same time since you’ll have challenges going uphill. You will not have it easy pedaling at a slower cadence or having not to sit while overcoming the hill with one gear.

However, it will give you an easy time since single-speed bikes don’t require much maintenance, and no adjustments are needed. Also, no derailleurs reduce the parts you should take care of or replace. Additionally, you’ll not have to keep replacing the chain after it drops when changing gears.


A mountain bike has powerful disc brakes and works best, allowing you to be in control on the challenging trail. The disc brakes also enable your bike to ride in any weather without worries. The disc brakes work better than the rim brakes, except they’re expensive and require regular maintenance.

Most cruisers use rim brakes, making them not perform well on wet trails. Since the cruiser isn’t designed for long-distance riding or difficult courses, the choice of brake is just fine. However, you’ll enjoy cruising the bike around your neighborhood, efficiently controlling it with the rim brakes.

Riding Position

A mountain bike’s frame geometry and flat handlebars make you ride in a unique position that lets you balance power, control, and aerodynamics. Since these are racing bikes, you should remain comfortable throughout the journey while on the saddle and out of it. Its design lets your hands be far apart on the handlebars, but the frame’s geometry enables you to remain upright to have better control.

On the other hand, a cruiser lets you stay comfortable in a more upright posture. You will not have to lower your back or bend your head like on mountain bikes. The riding position of a cruiser is considered to be more upright than the other types of bikes.


A mountain bike has flat handlebars, which means they are wider. Sometimes, the handlebars might curve backward or up to improve the design. A flat handlebar will require a broader grip to handle the bike better, especially on the turns and the bumpy trail.

However, cruisers have a unique handlebars with features such as flat bar and drop bars. They are curved to form a U-shape, enabling you to control the bike while sitting upright, allowing your wrist to be more natural. Because of its design, you can even fix a rack in front of the handlebars. The handlebars of cruisers are weighty, which requires you to be patient to get used to them. You will also have challenges getting out of the seat with these handlebars.


Mountain bikes have two types of suspension: hardtail and full suspension. The hardtail mountain bikes have front suspension on the fork. This enables the suspension to compress when your front wheel passes over a rock or ditch, cushioning you against the shock that can cause pain in your arms.

The full-suspension mountain bike has suspension on the rear and front wheels. They work harmoniously to cushion you from shock when riding a strenuous trail. The two suspensions work together with the dropper post, enabling you to go downhill and overcome bumpy paths. They also improve the bike’s traction and stability.

However, the suspension is another feature you can use to differentiate between a mountain bike and a cruiser. This is because cruisers don’t have suspension, making them lighter, requiring less maintenance, and cheaper, but making you undergo a bumpy ride. Some manufacturers have now incorporated suspension on cruisers.

Which Bike Should You Go For, Mountain Bike Vs Cruiser?

Choosing between a mountain bike vs. cruiser shouldn’t give you a hard time. To do this faster, know where you want to go riding the bike. After that, you’ll be able to know the best bike for your trail. For example, a mountain bike best suits a bumpy, rugged pathway because it has a stronger frame and tires. However, a cruiser will work best on tarmac or paved roads.

Apart from that, you should consider your budget and the aesthetic of the bicycle. The bike’s aesthetic will be much more important if you don’t intend to use it for any race but for fun around the neighborhood. A cruiser looks more beautiful than a mountain bike.

A mountain bike costs more than a cruiser, requiring you to prepare adequately, especially if you target the high-end MTB.

Is It Easy to Ride a Mountain Bike Than a Cruiser?

Mountain bikes can be easy if you’ve been riding a bicycle before. But it won’t be easy to ride it if it’s your first time, which is the same as riding a cruiser. What makes the bike easy to ride is regular practice and persistence.

This is despite a mountain bike having bigger tires with knobby treads, which increases traction on a rough trail. The bike’s suspension will only cushion you against bumps and not make riding easy. So, if you want to easily ride any of the bikes, take your time and learn the tricks that will make you a pro.

Bottom Line

Choosing between a mountain bike vs cruiser can be a real task as they share similar features that require you to be extra keen. Look at each bike’s frame, brakes, tire, gears, and suspension to understand the difference.

A mountain bike has a 1x setup, rear and front suspension, disc brakes, and wider tires, enabling it to go over rocks, bumps, and roots easily. However, a cruiser has no suspension but has thicker tires and a bigger seat and works best on a tarmac or paved road.

5/5 - (1 vote)



Related Posts