As diehard motorcyclists, we all know that the long-term viability of our favorite pastime depends on getting the next generation on two wheels. Getting the youngster(s) in your life on two wheels could mean a 50cc dirt bike with an auto-clutch and a throttle limiter. But just as we need to learn to walk before we can run, toddlers need to learn balance before they can ride.
That’s where a Strider balance bike comes in. It looks like a pint-sized BMX bike with a straight handlebar, a height-adjustable solo seat and chunky tires, but it doesn’t have pedals. Kids sit on the Strider like a normal bike and their feet can touch the ground. To move forward, they just walk their feet alongside of the bike, Fred Flintstone-style–slow at first, then faster until before you know it they’re running.
The balance part comes in when kids get a good head of steam going. Once rolling at a decent clip they simply pick up their feet, coast along and learn to balance themselves by a combination of intuition and trial-and-error. And by learning balance from the get-go, they can skip right over training wheels when they move up to a pedal bike.
A couple of years ago we gave a Strider to Auggie, the son of my long-time riding buddy Paul, for Christmas. It was a Strider 12 Sport in bright red, along with a size-adjustable helmet with a cool stars-and-stripes paint job (one of Paul’s nicknames among our group of dual-sport riders is Captain America–like father, like son).
Weighing just 6.7 pounds, the Strider 12 Sport has a steel frame, 12-inch mag wheels with EVA polymer tires that never go flat or need air, tool-free adjustability for the seat and handlebar, built-in footrests, a padded seat, mini grips for small hands and a cushy handlebar pad. Seat height ranges from 11 to 19 inches and it fits children with inseams from 12 to 20 inches.
At the time Auggie was 16 months old, just shy of the Strider 12’s target age range of 18 months to 5 years. He wasn’t interested in the Strider at first, preferring the security and ease of being chauffeured around by Dad in his four-wheeled push car. He wasn’t too keen on wearing the helmet either. But one day while playing at a park, Auggie saw other boys on Striders and he ran over to them and wanted to go for a ride. Peer pressure isn’t always bad!
Within 6 months of getting his Strider, Auggie didn’t want to do anything else. He constantly pestered his folks: “Mama! Papa! Ride bike?” They live down the street from us, and Auggie would duck walk his Strider up the slight incline to our house with his parents not far behind, then he would put his feet up on the footrests and coast his way back down the sidewalk.
Now that Auggie is 3 years plus a few months, he’s ready to graduate to the Strider 14x, which is designed for ages 3-7 (inseam of 16-23 inches or height of 30-57 inches). It starts off as a no-pedal balance bike, but can be easily converted to a pedal bike with the Easy-Ride Pedal Kit, which includes a fully enclosed chain, special narrow pedals and a coaster brake. Since it’s designed for larger kids, it has 14-inch spoked wheels with pneumatic rubber tires, a taller handlebar and a larger seat.
The other toddler in our life, my niece Nina, got a Strider 12 Sport for Christmas last year when she was 18 months old. My mother gave her a pink one along with a matching helmet. Like Auggie, it took a while for Nina to warm up to it, but the nice thing about the Strider is that it can be adjusted to accommodate a child’s growth so that it fits them perfectly at any appropriate age.
Whether or not Auggie or Nina will become motorcyclists remains to be seen. But at least they’re learning balance and the joys of rolling around on two wheels. And since they’ve been told to wear helmets from day one, they’ll be safe riders whether or not they ever end up with a throttle in their hand.
The Strider 12 Sportno-pedal balance bike for ages 18 months to 5 years is available in blue, green, pink, red, orange or yellow for $119.99, and Strider offers free shipping on orders over $50.
For go-fast kids, there is the Strider 12 Pro($169.99), which weighs just 5.6 pounds thanks to its aluminum frame and comes with textured performance footrests and a front number plate. And yes, there are even organized Strider races, including the Strider Cup Series and Strider Cup World Championship.
The Strider 14xwith Easy-Ride Pedal Kit for ages 3-7 years is available in blue or green for $209.99.
And if you want to start ‘em really young, Strider sells a Baby Bundle($199.98) for ages 6 months and older, which includes a Strider 12 Sport that fits into a rocking base so they can ride a rocking bike instead of a rocking horse. When the time comes, remove the Strider from the base and they’re ready to balance on two wheels.
You can find Striders co-branded with Honda, KTM and other motorcycle manufacturers, though availability may be limited, and you can find below-MSRP pricing from many retailers. Do an Internet search to find co-branded bikes and/or the best deal.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
See your toy or sporting goods retailer or visit striderbikes.com
Did anybody else notice that Auggie has his Crocs on the wrong feet?