While in Melbourne this Christmas my transport of choice (I had none) was the GGG Cruiser.
The GGG Cruiser was bought directly from Classic Bikes in Helensvale by a friend who used to live on the Gold Coast.
The GGG was a few years old but like most bikes of this type it had very few miles under its fat tyres. These bikes aren’t really made for riding, they’re cruisers by name and nature. They’re designed to be cruised along the beach by non-cyclists, comfortable with their fat tyres and super-stable riding positions and enormous seats. They’re singularly out of place in Melbourne, which was part of the attraction.
My first ride was a bit of a cruise down to the Abbostford convent for some coffee with mates, a perfect cruisey distance of about 3kms. The bike has a healthy clank, care of the mudguard and cranks coming together.
What you immediately notice is the seat is pushed way forward and getting any power into your pedaling stroke is almost impossible. This seemed more like a design flaw rather than a conscious cruisey thing to me. The Electra bikes define cruise and they’re completely the opposite in design. Thankfully the bike rode pretty well out of the saddle so on anything other than dead flat or only very slightly inclined I was out of the saddle.
The GGG Cruiser makes you want to mis-behave and the back-pedal brakes are just what you need to get the job done. After few Napoleon Dynomite inspired jokes I impressed my mates no-end by doing a sweat skiddy out front of the convent. It was well received and I could tell the other onlookers were impressed also, or perhaps just gob smacked. Not my fault they’d had an irony bypass.
As much fun as the brakes were I never really trusted them for pulling me up when any actual stopping was required. Coming down Punt Rd from Prahran was a scary experience and if anyone had got in my way I’d be a hood ornament by now. I see a few new bikes coming onto the market that have turned back to back-pedal brakes and I think they’re crazy. No genuine city bike should have back-pedal brakes. As a way of clearing up the handlebars and giving that fixie look it’s about as fucked up as owning an actual fixie.
I see a bike like this and straight away I start wondering about what I could do that it wasn’t designed for. And let’s face it, the design of this bike is so narrow almost anything other than rolling 200 metres along the foreshore is beyond its purview. A spot of commuting anyone?
What started out as a funny idea quickly turned into a pain in the arse. The riding position is such that there is almost no joy in cycling where any actual cycling is required. The only fun lay in clanking up behind some lycra-clad commuter and then watching them double-take as you clanked past. One young Asian girl on a racer was almost gored bullfighter style by my enormous handlebars on a short climb as she swerved hypoxiacally across the path. A young dude on an MTB searched manically for the right gear and could never quite escape the fearsome clanking of the GGG Cruiser. These were very very slow riders who must be habituated to being overtaken but somehow the sight of the cruiser burst whatever remaining bubble of dignity they might have owned. It was quite a lot of fun actually.
I’m not sure where I stand on bikes like these. On one hand they get people onto bikes and could be a stepping stone to a real bike. On the other hand they’re so far removed from any of the actual joys of riding you wonder if they’re not perhaps a dead end.