Re: Low Budget Cruiser Build
First, Merry Christmas!
You mentioned the lowered fork and how it affects handling. From the side view pic, it looks like you have negative trail, a very bad thing for bike handling. On your bike (based on the pics) the imaginary line that passes down thru the middle of your headtube intersects with the ground at a point behind your front tire contact patch. The analogy I always use to explain this is a shopping cart wheel. When you push a shopping cart, the tire contact patch is always behind the axis of rotation. Handling becomes unstable if you flip the wheels around.
You always want that point of intersection with the ground to be slightly ahead of the tire contact patch. I think most cruiser kinds of bikes will typically have around an inch or more of positive trail. The more positive trail, the more stable your bike will be at speed, but trail can also affect other handling characteristics so it's kind of a balancing act.
Hope this is helpful.