The thing about an open mind is you change your views from time to time. When I first started cruising it was "Seat as low as possible, NO HELMETS and Coaster brake or nothing"... These days it's pretty much the opposite...
When I first started cruising it was all about the Stanley Park Seawall. I couldn't think of ANYTHING better than doing a Seawall ride, on my cruiser with the seat pretty much bottomed out (because it looks cooler that way), no helmet and there's no WAY you would have caught me with anything but a coaster brake. Over the past few years I've kind of changed my tune a bit...
The first thing that changed was I started riding a lot more. After not all that long I started realizing that I really did need my bike set up properly for me, with the seat at a comfortable height; when your bike is set up properly you enjoy riding it a whole heck of a lot more and can go for longer rides! And once you start riding more, the quality of your equipment begins to matter more and more. Turns out that cool laid back seat post bends like a piece of toffee under my weight after a few rides. D'oh. Next thing I start finding is the single speed really is a bit limiting... OK, well maybe a 3-speed internal isn't so bad!! Hmm... well the coaster brake in the 3-speed hubs really isn't so great, so let's add a drum brake up front to that...
Soon you're riding your "cool" bike that is starting to show its limitations. Those big apes... Well, now you've got a bike that's actually capable of moving somewhat quickly. Turns out the combination of the tall bars and the springer fork gives her some vibrations at speed that make her a bit harder to control. Of course the springer fork really only works so well with a brake attached to it too.
What comes next?
A better bike!!
You end up taking the parts that worked the best off the last ride and bolting them together on something new... Now it's time to make the jump to a Brooks saddle after dealing with the creaking springs of the old plastic/vinyl one. Better quality stem: Check. 3-piece cranks after seeing some busted one-piece going through someone's ankle? Check. Solid pedals that won't blow apart climbing a hill? Check. And of course things just keep on going - little improvement here, another one there... It never ends!
Well now we're ready for some more hard core riding! The Seawall is out - you've done it so many times that when you close your eyes you see something like this:
When we had our big storms a couple years ago and lost the Seawall for a whole season we all explored a LOT of new ground. Things like the Cemetery, Trout Lake, East Vancouver, Kits and more all became part of the repertoire. By this point you're actually using your new found riding skills and things like tucking down hills is becoming more and more common. Maybe riding to and from work more? Why not? And then comes Bike Month, otherwise known in Vancouver as "Watch out for Cops who want to Ticket you Month" and you start thinking about being late for work because you got stopped by the police... Not to mention riding every day while tired during rush hour starts making you feel a bit more nervous. And that takes you to....
Of course at first the helmet is "just for riding to and from work" - you're not actually going to take that out on a CRUISER ride, are you? I mean everyone would laugh!! And then it starts slipping in to those heavy pedal rides you do... And before you know it, you're wearing it for just about everything. Winter time, some ice on a "non-helmet-ride" while rushing to meet up and you start thinking "So just what is my problem anyways?!"
And there you have it. You're officially a serious rider, helmet and all. You've got a room full of bikes and bike parts and are starting to spend more coin on things like hubs and cranks than you spent on your entire bike. Funny how that happens, eh?
Oh, by the way, I have some new Haro cranks for my Firestone! And a drum brake! And I've got a 5-speed internal coming! Oh, and I just put a new stem on it last week! Does it ever end?