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Beach Cruisers: The Gateway Bike
According to this article by Andrew Small, the Beach Cruiser—the familiar looking bike with fat tires, wide handlebars, and "[ca]ndy-colored retro-looking frames"—has an important role in the evolution of cycling.
That particular kind of bicycle is known as a “beach cruiser.” While it looks like a nostalgic holdover from the Eisenhower era, the bikes that ramble along boardwalks of America’s beach towns were born in mid-1970s. And, as Marketplace chronicled a few years back, they found their way to the beach thanks to the efforts of one man.
According to the history recounted here, beach cruisers entered the bicycle market at a time when a lot of people only had two options, depending on age: BMX bikes for kids and street racers for adults.
After retelling the story of the beach cruisers rise into its own niche in the bike industry, with multiple companies manufacturing their own versions of the bike, Small notes the numerous waterfront communities around the country that could benefit from widespread adoption of the beach cruiser, and many potential bike riders who could benefit from an introduction to bikes in a relaxed, beachfront environment.