Low Rider Bicycle - 26 inch - Black

26-inch low rider bicycle - black - front view
Slow, low, cheap and bad to the bone

There once was a grumpy guy. He had a big warehouse full of stuff. All kinds of stuff. In the back of the warehouse he had a bunch of bicycles.

The grumpy guy wanted me to buy all of his bicycles. He wanted a lot of money for them. I wanted to buy all of his bicycles, but I wanted to pay less money for them. That made the grumpy guy even more grumpy. But eventually the grumpy guy and I made a deal, and I bought all of his bicycles.

One of the bicycles wasn't really a bicycle, it was just a frame and fork, and a box of random parts. But after an hour in my driveway spinning wrenches, I turned that frame, fork and box of parts into this black 26-inch low rider bike.

(Be sure to check compatibility before ordering parts for your bike.)
26-inch low rider bicycle - black - side view
Sit back and reach

So what the heck is a "low rider" bicycle?

Just as the name implies, a low rider bicycle is a bicycle designed to be ridden low and slow. Actually "slowly" would be the right term. Lowly and slowly? Low and slowly? Slow and low, that is the tempo? Forget it.

So a low rider bicycle is a bike that's built with cruising and style in mind, rather than transportation and utility. To this end. low rider builders use banana seats, often upholstered in metallic vinyl, velvet or even faux fur. A banana seat needs a sissy bar, and there are a lot of options there: twisted, engraved, tubular, chrome, or even gold-plated.

Low rider bikes usually use whitewall tires for style, and (ironically enough) hi-rise handlebars for looks. Wheels can be chrome- or gold-plated, with sometimes hundreds of spokes, arranged in an array of lacing patterns. Lots of low riders have radial-laced or twist-laced wheels, and the spokes themselves can be twisted.

Who rides low rider bicycles?

Since the weather's always sunny in (southern) California, low rider bicycles are generally a west-coast phenomenon. But they've spread all over America, and all over the world. There are low rider bike clubs from Los Angeles to Dallas to Chicago to New York, and even in Europe and Asia. The builders are generally young and male, but low riders appeal to all genders and ages. The only requirement is that you like to look good while you ride your bike!

26-inch low rider bicycle - black - frame
Back in black

How do you build a low rider bicycle?

If you want to build a low rider bicycle to ride or to show, the basics are easy, and the sky is the limit! You're really only limited by your creativity, fabricating skill and budget.

You can make a simple low rider bike like this black 26-inch low rider. Start with a cheap cruiser frame; this one was probably off of an old 3-speed or inexpensive beach cruiser from Walmart. Next, add a banana seat with a sissy bar. This bike has a nice grey metallic banana seat with perpendicular chrome trim strips. The sissy bar is a bent, twisted, chrome-plated flat bar, which is probably stronger than a cheap tubular sissy bar, and definitely more stylish!

A set of hi-rise handlebars are essential for a low rider (unless you want to spring for a chain-link steering wheel), and there are plenty of inexpensive hi-rise bars available. This black 26-inch cuiser has cheap hi-rise bars, along with comfortable foam grips and a generic steel stem.

Wheel selections for a low rider bicycle are almost endless, from off-the shelf low rider wheels to fully customized handbuilt wheels with show chrome plating. The black low rider in this story has some very basic 26-inch coaster-brake wheels, which do their job well. The tires are a set of wide 26-inch whitewalls, because blackwall tires just don't look good on a low rider!

The final touch on the black low rider is a set of West Coast Choppers iron cross platform pedals. These aren't normal fare for a low rider bicycle, but in this case they turn this bike into the perfect cross between a low rider and a rat-rod rockabilly cruiser.

26-inch low rider bicycle - black - rear view
Twisted flat-bar sissy bar

Are low rider bicycles fun to ride?

Absolutely! Riding bicycles for competition or transporation can be great exercise and a lot of fun, but it can also be strenuous and stressful, especially if the weather's cold or wet, or if traffic's bad. A low rider, on the other hand, is designed for casual cruising at low speeds, up and down the boulevard or around the park, usually with other people who are also riding low rider bikes. Cruising on a low rider isn't a sprint to the finish, it's a mellow afternoon having fun with friends.

Of course, if you're accustomed to faster or more aggressive riding, low riders can be a little boring. I rode this 26-inch low rider around my driveway and street for a while, and it was fun and comfortable, but after a while I started wanting to ride fast and jump off stuff, which isn't this bike's strong suit! So if you're a little high-strung like me, you might not have the laid-back personality it takes to mellow out and cruise on a low rider bicycle.

Who buys low rider bicycles?

Lots of people buy low riders, from urban teenagers to middle-aged enthusiasts who couldn't afford the bike of their dreams when they were young. But most people prefer to build their own low rider bicycle; building it is half the fun!

I eventually sold this black low rider to a hip twenty-something who planned to use it to cruise around at car shows. And I think that's a great idea.

Scroll down for more photos.

(Be sure to check compatibility before ordering parts for your bike.)
26-inch low rider bicycle - black - crank and pedal
West Coast Choppers iron cross pedals
26-inch low rider bicycle - black - sissy bar extensions
Sissy bar extensions
26-inch low rider bicycle - black
Metallic grey banana seat