From my experience of building a high handlebar chopper, I learned the value of giant rear tire / skinny front tire.
The problem, I discovered, is that the eye perceives the skinny tire as having a smaller diameter, compared to the fat tire. Optical illusion, and not the way I want it.
I could visualize a solution. However it would take me years to find a good lightweight cantilever cruiser frame with which to make this.
I finally ran across a 2000 Jamis Earth Cruiser. It has the small bottom bracket, so I could put in any racing crankset, it has a 1-1/8” head tube, so I could select from a wide range of high performance forks, and It takes the standard 27.2 seatpost. Along with other high end details, this classic beach cruiser frame is aluminum – super trick.
To alleviate the fat tire / thin tire wheel illusion, I needed to go with a large diameter front. Harley Davidson Sportster style. The Harley folks worked out this design problem some time ago.
I worked out the variations of riding geometry changes from the wheel size differences over the range of 27” front to 24″ rear; brake problems, crank arm conflicts, bottom bracket height, etc. Then, balancing cornering clearance with a pretty good lazy steering angle, I settled on the 26” fat rear and 700c thin front. This would only require a fork change. Well, and all the other stuff connected to the fork.
I searched out a 700c length threadless fork with brake posts for the cantilever brakes. I removed the clunky steel headset bearings and put in a sleek sealed aluminum Cane Creek S2 headset. I found a good high flange, low rim, 700c front wheel from a Bianchi Pista. And picked out a short Bontrager threadless stem.
I had to rig up a cable hanger for the brakes; I got it pretty well with a piece from another headset and a barrel cable adjuster from a donor brake lever. I kept the old school cantilever brakes so that I could keep matching brake levers, though these levers do have a switch inside to use newer linear pull brakes.
Researching for the rear I discovered a super light, Kevlar beaded, gigantic stunt tire: 26×2.1 KHE MAC2 made in Germany http://www.khebikes.com/2012/mac-folding-tires-p-1231.html. Wow, great tire, unusually good combination of performance. Then the front got a 700×23 racing tire wrapped around a wheel from a Bianchi Pista. That Bianchi solid high flange hub aesthetically matching the big Nexus hub quite well.
Only slightly heavier than the derailleur system, but much nicer, that 7 speed Shimano Nexus IGH internal gear hub really makes this a versatile bicycle. You can ride a variety of terrain, slow speed cruising and high speed flying, plus go reasonably long distances. The roller brake is a heavy thing however, but with no other mounts on the frame, it’s that or a coaster brake.
Super grippy VP-001 pedals rock!
On the street it is comfortable and quick. Overall the damn thing is surprisingly light. It is a blast to ride, it is super stylie plus high performance = well balanced.