Balance Bike Review

An even better purchase than the Strider Classic because it comes with an extended seat post to increase the maximum seat height by 3".

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $110

Recommendation: Recommended

Seat Height: 11" - 19"

Weight: 6.4 lb.

Brakes: No Brakes

Footrest: Yes

Limiter: No

Tire Size: 12"

Grips Bumper: Yes

Bolts: Exposed

Frame Material: Steel


Strider is often the first name parents turn to when buying a bike, but with countless other companies entering the market, Strider’s competition is increasing. So how do the Strider models hold up to the competition? The hands-down winner in balance bikes sold at big-box stores, the Strider is a well-designed and well-built.  The ideal size for kids aged 18-months to 3, Strider is lightweight, easy to adjust and easy to ride.


Strider is one of the smallest balance bikes on the market.  With a minimum seat height of 11″, kids as young as 18-months can ride a Strider. Being one of the lightest as well, the Strider is a great starter balance bike for kids.  While its small frame isn’t ideal for older and/or taller kids, the extended seat post on the Sport and Pro models does allow kids up to age 5, to ride the Strider. The Classic does not come with the extended seat post.

strider balance bikes sizes one year old four year old


Strider’s standard 12″ balance bike is available in three models, the Classic, Sport, and Pro.  All three models have the same size frame and foam tires, but the Pro’s frame is made of aluminum, while the others are steel.  The Sport and the Pro also have a narrower handlebar, to allow for a tighter grip, a padded seat and an extra-long seat post to extend the maximum seat height to 19″ versus 16″. Lastly, the Sport and Pro come with a quick-release clamp that allows for easy, toll-free adjustments on the go, while the Classic requires an Allen wrench.

Strider Balance Bike Models

Model MSRP Weight Seat Height TIres Handlebar Seat Tool-free Adjust
Strider Classic $89 6.7 lb.  11 – 16″ Foam Standard, no pad  Non-padded No
Strider Sport $119 6.7 lb. 11 – 19″ Foam Mini-grip, padded  Padded Yes
Strider Pro $169 5.3 lb. 11 – 19″ Foam Mini-grip, padded Padded Yes

Weight and Geometry

Strider bikes are fun to ride!  Easy to ride and easy to handle, a simple search on YouTube will show countless videos of kids happily riding their Striders.  What makes them significantly better than big-box balance bikes?  Their lightweight and their geometry.  Weighing in a 6.7 lb. (5.3 lb. for Pro), the Strider is much easier for toddlers to handle as compared to 10 lb.+ balance bikes, such as the Burley, SmartGear, and Schwinn.  In addition to helping kids learn to balance, lightweight bikes also give them the confidence to get be adventurous.

strider balance bike lightweight jumps
The ease at which a child can ride a bike is also greatly determined by the bikes geometry. Kids need room to ride, and unlike most lower-end bikes, Strider provides plenty of room.  On many bikes the space between the handlebars and the seat is too close, making the bike harder to get on and off as well as more challenging to ride.  When getting started on a balance bike, kids need to be able to lean forward to allow them to increase their stride behind them.  If the handlebars are too close, they can’t lean in.  On a Strider, kids have plenty of room to lean in.  Strider’s low-set seat (close to the rear tire when placed at its lowest height) also provides a stabilizing low center-of-gravity for the rider.

strider balance bike geometry differences


The tires on all Strider bikes are puncture-proof, foam tires.  Lightweight, non-marking and essentially maintenance-free, foam tires will never go flat and are always ready for action.  For many families, never having to worry about flats is a major selling point worth considering, but foam tires do have their limitations.  Compared to lower-end balance bikes, Strider’s foam tires offer good traction, but they don’t compare to the traction provided by air tires.  Over the years, we have tested over 50 balance bikes on various surfaces and have time and time again seen foam tires lose traction where air tires have not.  Loose dirt and gravel, as well as smooth gym floors, are particularly bad for foam tires. For the average rider who plans on riding mainly on paved surfaces foam tires perform great.

strider balance bike foam tires air tires difference in traction

In addition to traction, foam tires provide NO cushioning for the rider.  Remember how it felt going over a curb on a Big Wheel?  Ever wondered why the don’t use foam tires on adult bikes?  Air tires, used on all bikes, whether road, mountain or kids, provide some level of cushioning for the rider.  When put under stress (ex: when going down a curb), an air tire will compress and absorb some of the impact, while foam tires will not.

strider balance bike air tires versus foam tires cushioning


Footrests are not necessary on balance bikes (which is why most high-end brands don’t include them), but there is no harm in a well-designed footrest like Strider’s.  Carefully tucked in below the seat, Strider’s footrest is non-intrusive and out of the way.  On several brands, the footrest protrudes too far out from beneath the seat, causing kids, especially toddlers, to hit the rear of their calf on the footrest when riding. To use Strider’s footrest, kids simply place their heels on the footrest located close to the rear tire.

strider balance bike footrest differences

FootBrake and Other Accessories

As explained on our “What to Look for When Purchasing a Balance Bike” page, we are fans of hand brakes on balance bikes, but we realized they are not necessary.  Strider does not offer a hand brake, but they do offer a unique footbrake for $15.  The brake is mounted at the base of the seat post and allows kids to activate it with their heels. Our older testers, aged 4 and up, loved using the brake, but still relied mainly on their feet to stop the bike. The XL handlebars ($19) is also a great add-on available to older riders.  Longer, taller and wider than the standard bar, the XL bars can help older kids, ages 4 and up, be more comfortable on the Strider.

Strider’s elbow and knee pads ($19) are some of the best that we have reviewed, and the strap on snow skis ($35) were much more fun that anyone expected.  The Number Plate Kit ($10), was also a fun addition for kids of all ages (included with Pro model).

strider balance bike accessories

For the youngest of riders, ages 12 months to 2 years, Strider’s new rocking base ($79) turns their balance bike into a rocking horse!  While unsure at first, our 14-month-old tester loved exploring and rocking on the bike.  Not strong enough or coordinated enough to rock continuously, the rocking base didn’t keep his attention for very long, but he was so intrigued that kept coming back to it.  With time, I’m sure he will come to love rocking on his bike.

strider balance bike rocking base

Bottom Line

Strider’s bikes are great starter balance bikes for kids aged 18-months to 2.5 years.  Lightweight with ideal geometry, they are easy to ride and are maintenance free.  For under $100 the Strider Classic ($89) is a great pick for toddlers aged 18-months and up.  Its low minimum seat height, lightweight and scaled down features make it a great starter bike for the smallest riders.

For preschoolers aged 2.5 to 4, the Strider Sport ($119) is a better purchase as it comes with and extended seat post to increase the maximum seat height 3″.  Older and more adventurous riders, however, will likely benefit from the air tires and hand brakes offered by other brands, such as the Yedoo Too Too and Charger 12. See our complete list on our Balance Bike Comparison Charts.

Sharing Siblings: For sibling of various ages, Strider’s wide range of adjustability make it the easiest bike for siblings of varying heights to share.  The tool-free height adjustments on the Strider Sport make it your best bet.  To allow for easy seat changes, purchasing an additional seat ($15) will allow you to easily swap from a low seat (for kids ages 18 months to 2 years), to a taller seat for kids in 3T pants and above.

MSRP: $110

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: December 29, 2016

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