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Arnold Ziffel

Look Ma, No Hands!
Rivnut is correct. My guess is that most vintage cruiser bikes all have about the same with the largest of those ancient ones around 18 1/2 inches + or - 1/3 of an inch.

You can fairly easily fit Middleweight Cruiser/Mountain Bike 559mm bead seat diameter TWENTY-SIX inch wheels on to the OLD Schwinn Electroforged "Lightweight Bikes" FRAME (either the VARSITY/CONTINENTAL/SUBURBAN with 27(630mm) ) -OR- the COLLEGIATE/BREEZE/SPEEDSTER/RACER/TRAVELER/CO-ED & variants of other names in the 26"(37-597) 597mm 26 x 1 3/8 Schwinn S5 / S6 wheels.

An electroforged frame is strong as an OX.
THE FRAMES ARE LARGER BECAUSE COLLEGE STUDENTS & MATURE ADULTS TYPICALLY WERE THE TYPICAL CONSUMER OF THESE BICYCLES.

The Classic Looking BEACH CRUISER bikes with the tanks & doo dads WERE TYPICALLY THE BICYCLES AIMED AT 8 to 12 YEAR OLD CHILDREN, although some early teens maybe did ride them too.
Cruiser bikes became totally uncool for hip cool kids in that target age group around 1968, and the cruiser never regained the popularity that it had between 1946 & 1965. That is just saying that styles change and 8 to 12 year old kids are as much a part of that as anyone. Witness only the Brady Bunch tv show or My Three Sons tv show from 1969 to 1970 and they were among the most old fashioned and conservatively attired of any tv shows at that time.
The Cruiser bike was maybe a little more popular than a flat top, crewcut, buzzcut or whitewall military haircut during that 1968 to well into the eighties period, but not by much, so there was very little demand by the original target audience for those bicycles.
Barbershops and military haircuts became very popular again in the 21st Century but the style of bike that Beaver Cleaver rode as an 8 to 13 year old never regained it's popularity with youth. Adults seemed to gravitate to Cruisers during the 1990's especially as the only simple alternative to an ever increasingly complex offering of mountain bikes, fitness-hybrid, and road-racing bicycles. Sadly, nobody has really addressed this segment with frame sizes to accomodate large or tall adults.
The reckon that since the largest segment of cruiser buyers are WOMEN seeking basic bicycles for recreational exercise bicycling, that the current size of how it has always been is fine. This and the fact that in the USA, non-athletic men aren't motivated enough to ride bikes anyway as they are typically couch potatoes that have a beer belly and a waist size of at least three inches larger than what would be deemed acceptably healthy. The athletic men typically choose something more sporting to ride. Perhaps in ASIA where both men and women are slightly smaller than men & women in North America, you have more men riding the Cruiser bikes, as they are mostly fit there unlike so many pumpkin shaped American men in the 18 to 45 year old age group. Women generally take better care of themselves but in the US, you see ballooned sizes that you never ever saw forty five years ago, largely because they can survive thanks to having A/C in cars and buildings today, where without A/C it would be unbearable or potentially fatal because of Summertime heat. Women though are far more likely to resolve to become fit and become healthy & fit, even if they start at a point of being morbidly obese. Women do this better by a factor of about 20 to 1, than men do. It remains unclear as to why Women can do this and men cannot. Certainly these are generalizations but it may explain why the cruiser bike frames are still essentially sized for 8 to 12 year old children of the mid 1930's to early Sixties era. Children in North America today are slightly larger in both height and weight than their grandparents were in Sixties, just as the average North American adult is probably two inches taller than the average adult in 1940.
Perhaps the mid-century US made beach cruiser bikes that were just known as bicycles when Beaver & Opie were 9 yr olds, are the perfect size for the Asian population where all these bicycles have been produced for the past 30+ years. These ancient cruiser bikes and the Asian copies of the past 30 years have frames that are strong enough to carry someone that weighs three times what Beaver did when he got his drivers license, and/or can handle some adult that is the size of TV Detective, Frank Cannon at his largest, or that actor on his later, also popular series called Jake & The....


Those "Lightweight" electroforged frames are available in 19 inch Lightweight Electroforged WOMEN's Step through FRAMES , which are larger than the MEN's Cruiser FRAME. The 21 inch Lightweight electroforged WOMEN's Step Through FRAME is a helluva lot larger than the MEN's CRUISER FRAME.

Typically during the sixties (17) & (19) were the typical LIGHTWEIGHT Electroforged WOMEN's Step Through offerings.
In the late sixties and from the very early seventies onward until Chicago closed (17) & (19) & (21) were offered in these Lightweight Electroforged WOMEN's Step Through bikes.

During the Sixties for the MEN's LIGHTWEIGHT Electroforged Diamond shape FRAME (18), (20) & (22) were most often seen.
Certainly by about 1970 though The SUBURBAN, VARSITY, CONTINENTAL & COLLEGIATE were most often seen in (18), (20), (22), and (24) Electroforged Diamond FRAMES.
Now, I believe that though the SUBURBAN and COLLEGIATE maxed out at (24) frame size, giving four choices during the 1970's, however the CONTINENTAL and VARSITY could be ordered with even larger, gigantic frames during the Bike Boom Era all the way to Carter's election and inauguration & the height of disco & CB craze.
YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEM FITTING SOME Moderate Size Middleweight type Cruiser Wheels (559mm TWENTY SIX) Any Eighties era basic 5 speed freewheeled early mountain bike's wheels would be the same size, so if you did want to build some type of FIVE SPEED like a larger better '62 Schwinn Corvette which was a nice enough bike but the rear derailleur was trash as were most all rear derailleurs in 1962, and the five speed freewheel, though good, was not nearly as good as what Schwinn would offer on the 1970 SUBURBAN 5 speed or 1970 Collegiate.
You might have to see Porkchop's Bmx store for inexpensive decent brake calipers that would fit a 559mm wheel in an electroforged frame designed for either 630mm wheel or 597mm wheel. As you probably know much of that difference was handled by the differing WEINMAN L.S. 2.4 side pulls for 630mm 27"wheel bikes versus the WEINMANN L.S. 2.8 side pulls for the 597mm 26" x 1 3/8 bikes. So yeah the VARSITY & SUBURBAN have Weinman L.S. 2.4 side pulls.
The COLLEGIATE and variants with the 597mm wheels have Weinman L.S. 2.8 (also known as Weinman 810) side pulls.
The CONTINENTAL has Center pull brakes , but the frame is exactly the same as the SUBURBAN which uses the VARSITY's brakes. The CONTINENTAL & SUBURBAN both use a tubular front fork. The VARSITY & COLLEGIATE use forged steel blade forks. Yeah the seventies era Continental has alloy handlebars and alloy stem but the frame is exactly the same as the SUBURBAN other than the Suburban employing the Varsity's brakes.

Sadly, nobody cares too much about the old electroforged "lightweight" frames because they are so heavy, but they are exactly the right prescription for building a Cruiser for anyone as tall as an NBA player or just someone that might be close to Clydesdale classification. Numerous people have built incredible bikes from these seemingly unwanted bikes & frames.
There are probably some threads here showing certain builds. There are several on youtube and on other bike forums.
If you can weld, even at a beginner's level, here is what I might suggest:
Look for a 21" WOMEN's SUBURBAN /CONTINENTAL/VARSITY or 21" WOMEN's COLLEGIATE frame from the SEVENTIES.
Simply Weld two parallel approx 3/8" bars as as slightly arching top tube, as seen on one ancient ROSS cantilever men's cruiser from long ago. HEY, I WOULDN'T EVEN BOTHER TO CHANGE IT UP BECAUSE I LIKE STEP THROUGH WOMEN'S FRAMES , BUT RECOGNIZING THAT MOST CABER MEN ARE AFRAID TO BE SEEN ON WHAT MOST WOULD DESCRIBE AS BEING A GIRL'S BIKE, THAT IS ALL YOU'D HAVE TO DO. Heck yeah, you'd be making the frame heavier by adding more steel bars but hey its gonna be a cruiser bike anyway and if you're afraid to lose your mancard or something, you could easily add additional steel tubes to the 21" women's frame and make it look like a larger sized men's cruiser bike. Those old step through Schwinn electroforged lightweight frames are overbuilt and ride great, and additional weight and structure should not impact that at all. I would choose two narrow diameter (approx 3/8")parallel slightly curving steel bars from the HEAD to SEAT TUBE. I would not remove any existing tubing. Repaint the frame and you're done.
YOU LIKELY CAN FURTHER ELIMINATE PROBLEMS SEEKING FRONT BRAKE CALIPERS OF THE PROPER LENGTH by simply choosing some used or aftermkt mountain bike front fork that already is perfectly set up for 559mm wheels.
Spreading the rear triangle to accept a slightly wider axle with a five speed freewheel should be easily done. You might find you can get a six speed freewheel or even a seven to work but it becomes much more complicated if you little clearance and must attempt re-dishing and offsetting to attempt to make things work.
If you're really good at welding, you should be able to use an antique cantilever or antique twin bar frame as a guide to building essentially a larger copy from scratch using a larger sized lightweight electroforged frame as your blank canvas--------just keep the same frame geometry of the Schwinn lightweight electroforged frame intact, but weld on frame bars that make it look like a cantilever or twin bar, and then cut-away and remove the now un-needed redundant original structural ladies cross bar.
Anyway it is a thought, although it is not very practical for most people, who are not skilled at metal fabrication & welding.
Who knows, if you can weld at least as good as a well taught beginner, perhaps practice cutting up and welding frames destined for the landfill anyway. Just be certain to be safe and know enough to attempt to weld such a project, because if you're tempted to just buy an inexpensive new welder from Harbor Freight or Northern Tool and just try it,....WELL DON'T DO THAT!!
Nothing against their equipment or the equipment anyone sells, BUT YOU ABSOLUTELY DON'T WANT TO TRY TO JUST WING IT AND LEARN ON YOUR OWN, BECAUSE YOU ARE LIKELY TO GET HURT IN TRYING TO DO SO, WITHOUT ANY PROPER INSTRUCTION OR TUTORING FROM SOMEONE ALREADY SKILLED. Just Don't Even Think About It Without Getting Proper Instruction From Someone Qualified To Teach You To Weld. It wouldn't matter if you have $10,000 in welding equipment or a new $200 Welder from Harbor Freight /Northern Tool................someone green and not knowing what they are doing is likely gonna get hurt!!...........I don't think even the best Youtube videos are even close to adequate in stressing safety and proper proceedure in welding. Get proper instruction if you wanna learn to weld. It could be from your uncle or brother-in-law as long as they are very experienced experts and they will be there in person, hands-on to teach you step by step and watch you and correct you before you do something potentially disasterous. Remember Tim Taylor's screw-ups on Tool Time, you don't wanna be that guy, or someone who ends up burned, blind, electrocuted, or burns down your garage while trying to learn how to use your new Welder. Yeah, they don't cost too much and you don't need a license or anything to buy one but you'd be a fool to not get proper instruction. Everybody wants you to be well and have fun riding and building your bicycles and collecting & building more, and having more fun riding and enjoying bikes. You can't do that so much when you're hurt or partially disabled from a welding accident. I am not directing this at any particular person. What I have stated here is not meant for any specific person here. Because thousands of folks now & in the future, perhaps may view this topic, so if stressing this so strongly, keeps someone from doing something foolishly that could get them hurt, it is worth the ridicule that I might get for being so emphatic about this.
 

coasterbrakejunkie1969

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Saw this on my local online marketplace. It’s being advertised as “garden art” for $65.

Pondering making it a project. Am needing a men’s bike so I can ride with my honey on her ‘38 Elgin. I’m guessing it’s a Schwinn, but I’m a newbie at identifying make/model/year. I need something to fit a 6 footer. I’m a project hound and not afraid to get into the thick of it.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Mike

View attachment 1490748
I'm 6'1" and ride a Schwinn middleweight no problem. If that bike were worth the effort it would be fine for you. Some of the older frames like Schwinn B10 were made in tall frames but hard to find and expensive. Some of the modern day bikes make larger frames for taller riders I think Magcari makes a few. If you just want to pedal around these bike will be fine. Also Schwinn made a king size frame it was a bit taller again these are not always easy to find.Good luck
 

Rivnut

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
I'm older, 5'9", approaching 5'8", and weigh about 210, and yes, my waistline is larger than my inseam, but I found a 19" frame lightweight Schwinn on my local CL for $20. I bought it for the bow pedals. I was happy just to get it and scrap the rest. Then I saw an ad for the S6 wheels, and another ad for the fenders. Sold them and made a profit. I had purchased a 26" Chinese Schwinn for parts - seat and 9 hole rack. I put the 26 by 1.75 alloy wheels with tires from that bike on the lightweight frame and it has become my favorite around town rider. It's light weight, has the perfect gear ratios, girls chain ring and big sprocket on the alloy wheel, and the larger tires give it a nice feel on the road. Put a panier style rack on the rear with a couple of stout bungy cords and it holds a 12 pack of "Liny" perfectly. I also have a few Schwinn middleweights and find them strong enough to carry my bulk, but I cannot ride one with a springer fork - my weight compresses the spring to the point that the spring is useless. I have a 52 Schwinn balloon bike with a springer but I put a Whizzer spring in it to compensate for my bulk. Anything is possible, go for it.
 

AndyA

Finally riding a big boys bike
You probably won’t find a vintage balloon bicycle built for a tall person. 26” frames are pretty much the same size. A long seat post and either a long handlebar stem or ape hanger handle bars are about as much as you can do. Some of the light weight bikes come in different frame sizes, measured from the crank bracket to the top of the seat tube.
Cousin Mike:
Fast Eddie is wise. Here are a couple of examples of how this looks. I am 5'-11" and both these bikes are comfortable for me to ride. Up first is a 26" Schwinn cruiser with a long seat post and BMX-style handlebars (seat tube = 18.5", top tube = 22"). Next, a 24" Huffy Good Vibrations with a long, layback seat post and BMX bars (seat tube 16", top tube 20"). Both are set up with 34" from the pedal-at-the-bottom to the top of saddle.

Have fun!

1491774


1491775
 

Boris

Fat tired old rider
Did a quick search for tall frames on this site and saw there was some mention of a prewar Westfield ballooner tall frame and prewar Colson LWB (long wheel base) tall frame. As well as the tall frame Schwinn previously mentioned. None of these are going to be cheap or easy to find however. In lieu of a taller frame, I agree with the other members regarding a longer seatpost, stem, and bars for a more comfortable fit. Sorry for the wild goose chase, but a good discussion nonetheless.
 

tacochris

I live for the CABE
I think it all comes down to what you're interests are, what your ultimate goal is and if you plan on keeping it for a long time.

That bike would be good for:
A--a guy who is new to the hobby and wants to see if this is something they really wanna do.
B--someone who wants a custom for cheap and something they dont feel about about modifying and having some fun with.

Cheap ticket in and could be fun considering your answers to the first questions. Offer 50 or less though....
 

partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
It’s worth $65 to one person…a Karen whose goal is not to buy a bicycle, but a hunk of old metal to throw flowers on and install in her garden, surrounded by wittle gnomes, and fake woodland creatures.
 

Boris

Fat tired old rider
It’s worth $65 to one person…a Karen whose goal is not to buy a bicycle, but a hunk of old metal to throw flowers on and install in her garden, surrounded by wittle gnomes, and fake woodland creatures.
I knew my yard needed something, but didn't know quite what. Great idea!!! Thanks!
Gee, I wish I was closer.
 
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