OUR ADVERTISERS

Monday, March 26, 2007

THE CHIEF BEACH CRUISER BY FIRMSTRONG: A BIKE REVIEW


click on the images for a full view

I got this beach cruiser from justbicycles.com with not much expectations. I was more interested in the frame itself which is a forward bottom bracket design. Man, was I ever surprised! I've been into cruisers lately and I enjoy the laid back riding position a lot. I had looked into the Electra Townie, but the one I could afford didn't look that great and the nice looking cruisers they have were out of reach for my budget. Then I saw this thing in the justbicycles.com online catalog. It was advertised as a cruiser for tall people with an ordinary picture, but the frame design looked interesting. If you want the lowdown on how I put it together, check out this post.

So I got this out of the box and I flipped. The frame is of solid construction with that nice big hump of a top tube. This cruiser is a one speed coaster brake job with 26X2.125 white wall Kenda Flame tread tires mounted on aluminium rims. It weighs in at 34.5 lbs and as a wheel base of 47.5 inches from axle to axle. The pedal axle is 5.5 inches forward in relation with the seat tube.

It has some nice parts to it like the handle grips made of simili-leather, nice big looking seat, killer design solid chainring and those huge handlebars. I wasn't expecting that much, but the whole bike comes together and looks like it's worth a lot more. The ride is very comfortable and quite special with those handlebars and front tire way ahead of you. It almost feels like riding one of those old motorcycles.

After riding it a little (ok a lot!) it was time to take some things apart and see what it was really made of. I had recently bought a Huffy cruiser and to my surprise found no grease at all inside all of the bearings, so I was curious with this one. I knew almost immediately that this thing was greased properly just by feeling the way the fork was turning in my hand. Sure enough, after taking the fork and bottom bracket apart I found both to be well greased.

I have no big issue with this bike. The only small thing that bugs me is the seat that makes noise when I hit a bump. But it's not surprising with those springs underneath, it is to be expected. I found a few scratches on the finish when I unpacked it. After taking some pictures of the damage that was caused prior to it being packed, I sent them to justbicycles.com by email and i got a prompt reply. I will be receiving replacement parts from what I have been told. I'll keep you posted. There is one thing about buying a bicycle online compared to your local bike shop and that is you have to wait for shipping. It's not perfect, but I am satisfied with the quick response of their customer support.



All and all, this bicycle doesn't have a cheap feel to it. It is of solid construction and the ride is amazing. I have to say that I have fallen in love and it's a good thing that my other bikes are not jealous! I'll be making some modifications to this bike in the coming future and I will keep you posted on the progress. The first thing I want to do is go for a Shimano 3 speed Nexus coaster hub...and a suicide shifter. ;)

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry

28 comments:

Genevieve said...

What a great idea for a blog! I am not a bike rider, so this is not really my thing, but I do admire your blog topic. I wish you the best of luck with it.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thank you Genevieve. now if I could get more stuf to review...just kidding. :) Keep posted for more stuff on bikes.

Anonymous said...

I just got this bike in and I have to admit it's awsome. The ride is laid back and comfortable. This bike definitly a cruiser!

Gerry Lauzon said...

It's a great compromise between a cruiser and limo bike. I still enjoy mine very much.

shatzbones said...

Gerry,

I'm interested in purchasing a beach cruiser. I like the Chief because of the single tube frame (it will make it easy to put on my bike rack). I'm 5'9" and want to sit upright to enjoy the views. Do you think I would enjoy this bike??

Thanks for your opinion

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hey bones, my daughter is 5'4", I'm 5'10" and we enjoy this bike very much. It as a kind of big motorcycle feel to it that is hard to explain. I'm considering upgrading it to a Nexus 3 speed internal hub with coaster brake.

Gerry :)

shatzbones said...

Thanks for commenting back. I think I will give this one a try. It is hard to tell from pictures how you will sit and I want to be able to sit in an upright position and just look around:)

Bike on...

Gerry Lauzon said...

Definitely an upright riding bike. No more hunching over the handlebars.

Gerry

Chubbys Cruisers said...

Chubbyscruisers.com has the Three Speed Version of the Chief in stock!!

Hopeisb4u said...

You seem like the perfect person to help me right now! I had to buy a cheap bike rack, that fits on my trunk, recently to hold our bikes. Mine being a cruiser, and my daughters play bike. However, there seems to be no way my crusier will fit on this rack. Are there special racks to hold a female cruiser?? i'm longing to take my bike out!! Help!! hopeisb4u@aol.comThanks!!

Gerry Lauzon said...

What you need is a special bar to attach to your bike so it becomes temporarily a "man's" frame bike. This bar should be available at your local bike shop. Hope this helped.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I have been looking at the chief for a few months while waiting for my "Katrina" Huffy Crusier to die after being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina- I had bought it new right before the storm and it was held captive in our shed that dangled from the roots of a fallen tree for a year and a half. It was very rusted by the time it was freed from its tomb, but we have eeked a few months use out of it for running the dogs.
DO you thik the cheif is easy to ride while holding a leash or will the extra length cause balance issues. The guys are very good at running with the bike.
It sounds like the CHeif is very well built.
I have noticed some bijes say alloy wheels but you said the Chief is aluminum, are these different?

Gerry Lauzon said...

I can't say if the Chief would be good for walking a dog. The longer handle bars might be more forgiving than shorter ones. As for your other question, alloy wheels and Aluminum are the same thing.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bones,
I've seen the chief in 17" and 18" models. I'm 6'2" and about 280lb(for now) Should I insist on the 18"? Seen it also with 3 speeds. What do you think of that?
Thanks
Jeff

Gerry Lauzon said...

3 speeds with a coaster sounds pretty cool. I've just finished the Chief's second summer of riding and I must say that I enjoy this bike a lot.

Gerry :)

Jennifer said...

I have an Electra Beach crusier from 13 years ago. It is a quality bike and I love it. I was looking to buy a bike for mu husband and can't afford another Electra. I am interested in the Firmstrong Urban bike. Do you think that Firmstrong makes a good bike? We do not have stores in Altanta that have very many beach cruisers so i have to order one online without seeing it. Please let me know your opinion. I ejnoyed reading your blog.

Gerald said...

Hey Jennifer,

I still have The Chief and it is one of my main rides. It's seen a lot of mileage under bad conditions and it's still going strong. For the money, I have no problems recommending the Firmstrong.

Gerry :)

Adrian said...

Thanks for the great and detailed review. It reinforces my decision to buy it. Now if I can only find one in Matte Grey... the manufacturer is on backorder for a few months. Do you know of anyone carrying this bike in stock/on site that would ship? Thanks again.

Gerald said...

Sorry Adrian, I don't.

Gerry

Charles said...

I'm thinking of getting a Chief 3 speed. The forward crank sounds like it would address the problems I've had with mountian bike I've been riding and I can't afford an Electra. Now that some time has passed, is your opinion of the one you have still favorable?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Funny you should ask, I just came back from riding it. I converted mine to a multi speed derailleur set-up and it has been my regular ride for a while. I still recommend it.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

It's been a while since you first posted this review. Do you still have the bike, and if so, is it still going strong? I'm thinking about buying one for conversion to a motorized bicycle. Does the Chief seem well built enough for such a conversion? The other thing I would add are side pull calliper brakes (I just don't trust coaster brakes). Should be possible you think?

Anonymous said...

Bill H...Iam 6ft2 285 would the chief 3speed be big enough for me.

Gerry Lauzon said...

You should be just fine.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

The frame color is a simple, subtle cream contrasted by the bold orange rims.


cruiser bicycles

Anonymous said...

hello, i was wondering if your 5'4'' daughter is able to ride your men's firmstrong chief cruiser? i am interested in buying the women's version at 26" but worried that at 5'4'' i may be too short for this bike.

thanks

Resolve Your Pain said...

Hi,
I'm 5'10 and I'm am a huge beach cruiser fan. I've had two chicago steel schwin cruisers - one that was single speed coaster brake and the other was three speed with a hand brake. I loved the single speed bike but mine was stolen. I bought an updated version of the schwinn crusier (coaster brake, single speed) but the new version couldn't compare. It was lighter and cheap feeling.
I test rode the giant single speed cruiser. That one felt good but not 100% solid - a tiny bit cheap feeling. I did like how the frame was big and I rode in a high position.
I didn't like the low position of the Electra.
And I really liked the Trek single speed cruiser but its been discontinued. The Trek felt more solid than the Giant.
I've considered buying an old schwin frame and going back to what I loved. But I'm not a strong do it yourselfer.

Where would you place the Firmstrong Chief in context to the bikes that I mentioned?

Thanks,

Anthony O.

anthony ohm said...

Hi,
I'm 5'10 and I'm am a huge beach cruiser fan. I've had two chicago steel schwin cruisers - one that was single speed coaster brake and the other was three speed with a hand brake. I loved the single speed bike but mine was stolen. I bought an updated version of the schwinn crusier (coaster brake, single speed) but the new version couldn't compare. It was lighter and cheap feeling.
I test rode the giant single speed cruiser. That one felt good but not 100% solid - a tiny bit cheap feeling. I did like how the frame was big and I rode in a high position.
I didn't like the low position of the Electra.
And I really liked the Trek single speed cruiser but its been discontinued. The Trek felt more solid than the Giant.
I've considered buying an old schwin frame and going back to what I loved. But I'm not a strong do it yourselfer.

Where would you place the Firmstrong Chief in context to the bikes that I mentioned?

Thanks,

Anthony O.