I’ve been looking at a lot of beach cruisers lately. And I have completely fallen in love with the entire beach cruiser esthetic.

The upright ride. The big fat tires. The awesome designs of the bikes.

I also got to thinking about the whole “speeds” thing. I was thinking about how on that last long ride of ours (before I hurt my foot, which is doing much much better by the way) I stayed in that one gear the whole time. I enjoyed that immensely but the idea of getting a bike with only one gear gave me pause because I was worried that I might not like whatever gear the manufacturer chose to put on. Then I realized that it is very easy and inexpensive (better than installing a 3-speed hub anyway) to swap out cogs on those kinds of bikes. So if I got a bike and decided I didn’t like the gearing it was built with, it would be a simple matter to change the gears.

So I am very excited about getting a single speed beach cruiser bicycle. There are lots of options available to me now that I’ve discarded the three-speed requirement. Torker makes very nice looking bikes. But I’ve really been falling in love with the designs from Nirve. (Addendum: I’ve just now discovered Felt Beach Cruisers, very nice bikes, very nice prices) The only problem is that they are just out of my budget right now. I’m thinking that one of those bikes may be my Christmas gift to myself.

But for now, I’ve decided that I’m going to perform a little experiment. I’m going to take a very close look at the Huffy Cranbrook’s for sale locally. If I find one without flaws in the welding, I’m going to purchase it just to see how it stands up to my style of riding. Obviously, I’ll blog about my observations here.

The reason that I’m going to do this is because I believe in value. Yes, I know that the $300-plus bikes are substantially better. The question is, “Do I need better?” It’s much the same with cameras, in my career I’ve used everything from 30-year-old Pentax K1000s, to brand new $5,000 digital SLRs. But lately I’m pleased as punch grabbing the Fuji point-and-shoot I bought 3 years ago for $80. The more expensive cameras are better, it’s just that the cheap one fills my need perfectly.

I’m interested to see how the cheap bike holds up. It’s not like I’ll be riding across the country on the thing. I’m talking about riding the loop around Milo (which is only a square block) in the evenings, and the occasional 5-10 mile jaunt down the dirt road. Oh, and throwing them in the back when we visit Noel’s sister in KC. It’ll be a fun trial.