Strider balance bikes are the most popular pedal-less bikes for toddlers in the U.S. Strider Bikes has been making and perfecting balance bikes since 2007 and has sold over 2 million bikes to families all over the globe. In this review, we discuss the differences in Strider’s three balance bike models.
Along with our review of Strider’s three bike models discussed below, we include what makes the Strider brand shine, as well as how Strider’s balance bikes for toddlers stack up to the competition. Does most popular mean it’s the best? Read on to find out!
What We Love About the Strider
- Easily adjustable to fit a wide range of ages
- Frame design makes it comfortable and easy to ride
- Super lightweight!
- Narrow saddle, handlebars, and grips to fit little bodies
- Widely available and comes in a variety of colors
- The snow skis are amazing and work great!
What You Should Know Before You Buy a Strider
- It is a much better fit for a 18mo to 3yo toddler than a 3 to 4yo preschooler
- The Sport model is 100% worth the extra $20 over the Classic model. The Sport’s padded seat, extra long seat post, and tool free adjust are life savers!
- The overall quality of Strider’s components isn’t as high as similarly priced bikes
- If you’re planning on riding on non-paved surfaces, a bike with air tires is a much better option (Strider’s air tires are a $50 upgrade)
Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike Video Review
Want to see the Strider balance bike in action? Check out our video review below that covers everything from sizing and geometry to tires and weight. Not a video person? Not to worry, everything covered in the video is in our complete review below.
Strider Bike Review – Classic, Sport and Pro Models
Strider is often the first name parents turn to when buying a balance bike, but with countless other companies entering the market, Strider’s competition is fierce. So how do the Strider bikes hold up to the competition?
Compared to cheap, mass-produced sub-$100 balance bikes, the Strider holds its own due to its exceptional adjustability. Compared to higher-end balance bikes, Striders don’t have as many features, but all-in-all the Strider bike has certainly earned its place as the best selling balance bike in the US. Overall, Strider bikes are well-designed and are hands-down the winner in balance bikes sold at big-box stores.
Size – What age is best for the Strider balance bike?
The Strider 12 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 bike. 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. If you are purchasing a bike for a child who is already 4 or 5-years-old, Strider’s larger model, the Strider 14x, is a much better option.
18-month old and 4.5 year-old on Strider Bikes
Components of the Strider
Weighing in at 6.7 lb. (5.6 lb. for Pro), the Strider 12 Sport and Strider 12 Classic are some of the lighter balance bikes on the market. Lightweight bikes are much easier for toddlers to handle as compared to 10 lb.+ balance bikes, such as the Burley, and Schwinn.
As a general rule, a balance bike should be no more than 30% of a child’s body weight. In addition to helping kids learn to balance, lightweight bikes also give them the confidence to be adventurous because it’s easier to maneuver a lighter bike and easier for them to pick it up after they fall.
Strider bikes are fun to ride because they’re easy to ride and easy to handle. What makes them significantly better than other big-box store balance bikes? In addition to being lightweight, they have well-designed frame.
When riding a balance bike, it’s about running and gliding. Kids naturally lean forward to run and need enough room to do so.
Strider bikes provide ample room between the seat and handlebars which allows kids plenty of space to lean in and extend their legs to run comfortably and naturally. This space also makes it easy to get on and off the bike. Quite simply, kids need room to ride, and Strider provides plenty of it.
Balance Bike Frame Design
The position of the seat on the frame is also noteworthy. The seat on a Strider balance bike sits close to the rear tire when placed at its lowest height. This small gap provides a stabilizing low center-of-gravity for the rider which makes the bike easier to balance and control.
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. However, foam tires do have their limitations.
Over the years, we’ve tested over 50 balance bikes on various surfaces and time and again have seen foam tires lose traction where air tires have not. Loose dirt and gravel, as well as smooth gym or wood floors, are particularly problematic for foam tires. However, for the average rider who plans on riding mainly on paved surfaces, foam tires perform just fine.
Foam Tire vs. Air Tire Compression
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 wonder why they don’t use foam tires on adult bikes? Air tires used on 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.
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 other 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.
Differences in Strider Bike Models
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 primary differences are that the Strider Pro and Sport (vs. the Classic) have an extended seat height range, a tool-free seat adjust, and a padded seat. Additionally, the main benefit of the Strider 12 Pro is that the frame is made of aluminum, which results in a lighter bike.
Strider Models Comparison
|Weight||6.7 lb.||6.7 lb.||5.6 lb.|
|Seat Height||11 - 16"||11 - 19"||11 - 19"|
|Mini Grip Handlebars||✔️||✔️|
Can you add pedals to a Strider balance bike?
While you cannot add pedal to the Strider 12 balance bikes, you can add pedals to the larger Strider 14x. For older/taller kids ages 3 and up, the Strider 14x has 14″ tires, taller seat heights, and can convert to a pedal bike. The 14x’s longer wheelbase and wider handlebars also provide a more stable ride for taller kids.
Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike vs. Other Balance Bikes
While Strider is the the most well known balance bike on the market, is it the best for your child? All in all, the Strider is a great bike with a lot going for it, but with 20+ balance bikes to choose from, it does have some pretty fierce competition.
Swagtron, Strider, and Yedoo Too Too Balance Bikes
Compared to the cheaper Swagtron and the higher-end Yedoo TooToo, the Strider offers the most adjustability. In addition to having the widest seat range, it also has adjustable height handlebars that can grow with the child as well.
The other bikes, however, do have air tires that provide much more traction and cushioning than the foam tires found on Strider.
|Feature||Swagtron K3||Strider Sport||Yedoo Too Too|
|Weight||6.5 lb.||6.7 lb.||8.2 lb.|
|Seat Height||12.25" - 15.25"||11-19"||12" - 18"|
|Link to Review||Swagtron K3||You're reading it!||Yedoo TooToo|
Compared to ANY other balance bike on the market, Strider knocks out the competition when it comes to available accessories. From a rocking base for babies, snow skis for year-round fun, to almost unlimited accessories combinations (see more below), the world of Strider has you covered.
Strider 12 Bottom Line
Strider bikes are great starter balance bikes. Lightweight with ideal geometry, they are easy to ride and are maintenance free. For under $100 the Strider 12 Classic balance bike is a great pick for toddlers ages 18-months and up. Its low minimum seat height and scaled down features make it a great first bike for the smallest riders.
For preschoolers aged 2.5 to 4, the Strider 12 Sport balance bike is a better purchase as it comes with an extended seat post to increase the maximum seat height by 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 Ridgeback Scoot.
Strider Balance Bike Accessories
For the youngest of riders, ages 12 months to 2 years, Strider’s rocking base ($79) turns a 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 he kept coming back to it. With time, I’m sure he’ll come to love rocking on his bike.
Strider Bike Upgrades – Wild Child Bikes
While the Strider is a basic (but great!) bike by itself, there’s actually a sizeable market for aftermarket parts that make for some incredibly upgraded bikes. The trend is pretty crazy in Asia where Strider bike racing is as serious as getting into college. But the U.S. is also catching on as parents discover how fun and personalized their child’s balance bike can be with a few cool upgrades.
Wild Child Bikes offers tons of high-quality upgrades and color options for grips, handlebars, saddles, stems, seat posts, and wheels, they also have five different types of air tires to choose from. For and additional pop of color, Balance Bike Graphics also offers customized stickers to complete the look.
For year-around fun, Strider also makes a fun set of skis that Velcro to the front and rear wheels of the bike. They are easy to use, easy to take on and off and a lot of fun!