Strider, a name synonymous with balance bikes, has been doing pedal-less bikes for kids since 2007. From modest beginnings, Strider has grown into a global community, sold millions of balance bikes worldwide and have even hosted the Strider Cup World Championships!
We were therefore really pleased when The Bike Club asked our 3 year old reviewer to put the Strider Sport balance bike to the test to help our readers decide whether this is the balance bike for their Cycle Sprog.
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Cycle Sprog were sent the Strider Sport to review by The Bike Club, who run an affordable and hassle free monthly rental scheme for quality kids bikes. We were not paid to write this review and all opinions are our own.
Age – 3 years Height – 95cm Inside leg – 36cm
Model – Strider 12 Sport
Colours– Blue, Green, Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, and Black
Child age range – 18 Months – 5 Years
Inside leg measurement – 30cm to 51cm inseam
Weight – 3.0kg
Max. Rider Weight – 27 kg (60 lbs.)
Cost – £4.49 per month to lease
We like – leave your tools, pump and worries at home with this fun, lightweight and low maintenance balance bike.
Strider prides itself on simplicity, low weight and very little maintenance. The ‘Sport’ model uses a steel frame and weighs in at 3.0kg.
The Strider 12 Sport will fit riders as young as 18 months and keep going to 5 yrs (approximately).
One of the more striking features of the Strider is the plastic wheels which define the Strider ‘look’, harking back to 80s BMX fashion.
The tyres used on the Strider are a ‘solid’ foam material that provides the grip and cushioning, which means it’s impossible to get a puncture and the foam keeps the weight down.
With quick release levers adjusting saddle and bar height, the bike can easily be adjusted to fit as your child grows, or if you want to swap between children.
For those with more confidence, there are footrests on the frame so little feet can get up and freewheel on the downhills!
Other nice touches are the small rubber grips for little hands, a comfy saddle and a padded handlebar cover to take the sting out of any accidental collisions.
Riding the Strider Sport 12
First impressions from my little tester were enthusiastic, with the bright red colour winning him over early on.
The crucial factor for any balance bike is weight, and the Strider is certainly lightweight. At just 3kg it is easily picked up and pushed around by my 3yr old.
This low weight allowed my tester to approach the bike in a toy-like fashion and we happily played with the bike in the house, as he explored it and got comfortable on it just messing about.
As an indoor bike it works well, and if you have space it’s fun to get accustomed to the bike inside.
Strider also offers a funky ‘rocking’ base which turns it into a stationary rocking horse/bike to play on if your child is a bit too young to master the scooting action of the balance bike.
Starting at the smallest settings it is easy to get the seat very low and for little legs to experiment with getting on and off.
This low height is party due to the ’12 inch’ wheels actually measuring nearer to 11 inches, and partly due to the low frame.
This means the Strider is more accessible to small riders than some other 12 inch wheeled balance bikes.
The saddle doesn’t require any tools to adjust, so any adjustment can be done rapidly with the quick-release lever.
The only downside is that fiddling hands like to play with the lever and can undo the seat if you don’t do it up snugly.
The lowest seat height is 29cm and rises to 40cm.
Handlebar height is also changeable from 46cm to 56cm with another quick-release lever.
This means as the child grows the bike can increase in both saddle and handlebar height.
Again the handlebar lever is easy to undo but it also holds the fork and front wheel on the frame.
I had a ‘dismantling’ incident when the lever had been helpfully undone by my tester and I picked the bike up and the fork fell off.
So, again, making sure they are done up snug is helpful.
In this photo you can see the Strider balance bike in the smallest configuration, with the lowest saddle height (29cm) and lowest handlebar height (46cm):
This second photo shows the bike in maximum setting, with the saddle at 40cm and the handlebars at 56cm:
Just riding around the house, my tester found the bike instantly engaging to move around on, and the low seat and frame meant he could lift the front wheel off the ground when stationary to point the bike in the direction he wanted to roll/walk.
Out of the house and hitting the streets, the Strider rolls fast thanks to the firm foam tyres.
What they don’t have is very much in the way of ‘give’ and the bike is very rigid which is felt every time you put the bike down with a clunk.
That said, for a small child this doesn’t seem to be an issue at all, and knowing that you’ll never have to fix a puncture is liberating.
If your little rider starts to push the limits of cornering traction, or wants to get out and about on really muddy surfaces, then the tyres will struggle as they do not offer as much grip as an air-filled tyre.
Essentially the Strider is a fast bike – you can see what’s possible if you watch the racing on YouTube and the speeds that the kids go at!
Ultimately I don’t think the stiff ride bothers the riders at all and the efficiency simply helps them roll faster and further.
The handlebar pad gives a handy place to put some branding and endless fun for small hands to undo the velcro repeatedly.
I initially felt it was unnecessary until I realised how high the bars can go! It is possible to have the bars very high (which I wouldn’t recommend) but this would increase the likelihood of head butting the bars. Either way, having a bit of padding may help if the need arises.
Those who have done the balance bike thing before will know that it’s not only how the bike rides but how it feels when your rider deems it is time for a walk/snooze/tantrum and you end up carrying the bike!
The good news here is that the Strider is light and easy to carry and balances happily just by holding the saddle.
It’s also light enough to be hooked onto the handle of a pram or stashed underneath if you have space.
I definitely saw the benefit of a high handlebar on the bike, whether walking the bike or scooting along it gives appears to give more confidence to the rider.
My rider simply liked the handlebar being high up, so it’s great to have that level of adjustment.
The footrests are a welcome addition for confident riders, but I found his feet tended to rub on the wheel. It would be good to have a small lip on the footrests to stop heels touching the tyre.
One consideration is for the tyre and seat materials which seem to be an attractive prospect for nails, teeth and claws, be it animal or child. The saddle now has teeth marks in it (the case remains unsolved).
The low maintenance is certainly a win, but I would have liked to see some bearings in the headset rather than plastic inserts.
On adult bikes, you would find bearings to allow the fork to turn in the frame, but the Strider simply uses plastic inserts, which work fine, but not a perfect engineering solution.
Ultimately the Strider is a classic bike, which has been around for years, and has many fans – it does its job of getting young children onto two wheels with a fun cycling experience.
However it’s now up against a lot more competition with a good number of high-quality bikes having been released in recent years. The Strider is simply less polished and now seems quite expensive (£119) by comparison to newer options on the market if you’re buying one brand new.
If you’re looking to lease though, the Strider is the cheapest option, with prices starting at just £4.49 per month.
Alternatives to the Strider Sport
The Bike Club have a range of other balance bikes which you can lease for a low monthly fee, but they’re all more expensive than the Strider. Models like the Frog Tadpole and Islabikes Rothan come with air filled tyres and are dialled down versions of their larger pedal bikes.
Other options for cheaper balance bikes with solid tyres include the Vitus Nippy.
There is a lot to love about the Strider and it’s easy to see why it has been a popular choice for years. It’s lightweight, easy to adjust and it will fit very small children.
I will, however, always be drawn to kids bikes that use more conventional bike parts such as air-filled tyres, metal wheels and bearings in the headset, but I can also see some advantages of such a simple design.
The Strider is a low or no maintenance bike, the sort of reliable bike you can grab and go no matter what.Rent Now
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- Buying a balance bike for your toddler? 10 things you need to know!
- The best balance bikes as recommended by parents
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