An even better purchase than the Strider Classic because it comes with an extended seat post to increase the maximum seat height by 3".
Seat Height: 11" - 19"
Weight: 6.4 lb.
Brakes: No Brakes
Tire Size: 12"
Grips Bumper: Yes
Frame Material: Steel
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 increasing. So how do the Strider models hold up to the competition? Overall, Strider bikes are well-designed and well-built, for which we recommend them as the hands-down winner in balance bikes sold at big-box stores.
Kids aged 18-months to 3 years old: Strider Classic is affordable and great for young kids because it’s lightweight, easy to adjust, and easy to ride.
Preschoolers aged 2.5 to 4 years old: The Strider Sport is a better purchase at this age as it comes with an extended seat post to increase the maximum seat height by 3″.
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.
NOT IDEAL FOR: Kids aged 3+ in the higher percentiles for height who would benefit from a larger frame and kids older than 5.
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 Sport and Pro (vs. the Classic) have an extended seat height range and a padded seat. Additionally, the main benefit of the Pro is that the frame is made of aluminum, which results in a lighter bike.
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.
Remember, a properly fitted balance bike allows the seat height to be set 1″ to 1.5″ less than a child’s inseam (measured crotch to floor without shoes on). To allow room for growth, it’s ideal to purchase a bike with a maximum seat height of at least 2″ above the child’s current inseam.
Strider Balance Bikes Fit Kids Across a Wide Range of Ages
Weighing in at 6.7 lb. (5.3 lb. for Pro), the Strider is one 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, SmartGear, 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. A simple search on YouTube will show countless videos of kids happily riding their Striders. What makes them significantly better than other big-box store balance bikes? In addition to being lightweight, they have well-designed geometry, which is a rare find within their price category. Well-designed geometry is important because it determines how easy it is to ride a bike.
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 unlike most lower-end bikes, Strider provides plenty of room.
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, 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’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 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.
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.
As explained on our “What to Look for When Purchasing a Balance Bike” page, we are fans of hand brakes on balance bikes, but advise that they are not absolutely 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.
Additional Features to Consider When Purchasing a Balance Bike
There are a few additional but minor features that a savvy balance bike shopper should be aware of before making a final decision. For more detailed information on any of these features, read our “What to Look for When Purchasing a Balance Bike” page.
TURNING LIMITERS: Strider balance bikes do not have turning limiters. The overall effect most limiters have on riding is minor, and their absence shouldn’t be a determining factor in your purchase.
BEARINGS: Strider balance bikes have regular bearings, rather than the higher-end sealed bearings. However, when choosing the features for your ideal balance bike, sealed bearings are a “nice-to-have,” rather than required.
FRAME MATERIALS: Most kids’ bike out there are made of steel because it’s cheap to use. Unfortunately can also make for a heavy bike. Despite having steel frames, the Classic and Sport are both pretty lightweight. If you’re really concerned, consider the Pro, which has a frame made of lightweight aluminum.
GRIPS: While seemingly minor, handlebar grips will most likely be one of the first safety features used on a balance bike. Strider’s rubber grips have a knobby end that protects kids’ hands when the handlebars run into a wall, trees, etc., and also protects their hands from hitting the ground during falls. Additionally, the Strider Sport and Pro have narrower handlebar grips than the Classic, which allows little hands to hold them more securely for better control.
BOLTS: Strider’s exposed bolts become scratched over time and can scratch kids’ inner legs while striding or during falls. This is particularly problematic with smaller-framed toddlers. However, exposed bolts are the most common type of bolt on balance bikes and are to be expected on bikes in this price range.
The XL handlebars ($19) are 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, to 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).
For the youngest of riders, ages 12 months to 2 years, Strider’s new 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’s bikes are great starter balance bikes. 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 and scaled down features make it a great first bike for the smallest riders.
For preschoolers aged 2.5 to 4, the Strider Sport ($119) 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 Charger 12. You can see our complete list of balance bike recommendations on our Balance Bike Comparison Charts page. Strider also now offers a larger 14x model that converts to a pedal bike! We’ve found it to be a great fit taller 3-year-olds up to 6-years-old. Check out our complete review of the Strider 14x here.
Strider 14x Convertible Balance Bike
Sharing Siblings: For siblings of various ages, Strider’s wide range of adjustability makes 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.
By: Natalie Martins
Last Updated: December 29, 2016
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