The Best Balance Bike? STRIDER (Or How To Teach Your Kid To Ride A Bike In 10 Min Flat)

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Be Brave tee | Star leggings | Converse

I’ll never forget when my oldest, Raines, first learned how to ride a bike.  A real bike – with pedals and two wheels and everything.  A Big Boy Bike.  Raines had been riding his little green Strider bike for years, but now that he was five, he really wanted the real thing.

It’s not like his Strider slowed him down – heck, he would keep me company while I ran (and once we did four miles down the banks of the Schuylkill River together) but Raines has always been interested in fast, and quickly realized that a higher top speed could be reached with a larger bike.

You understand my hesitation, Mamas.  Mike, on the other hand, was all, “boy’s ready for a bike!”

So….OK.  After school one Friday, Raines and I came home with a bike.  It was huge.  It was heavy.  It was a giant monstrosity that the bike store guys assured me would “last for years”.  I was skeptical, but….whatever.  This was Mike’s domain.  I envisioned him coming home from work that night, and spending all weekend with Raines having that classic father-son Bonding Moment.  Snort.  I was ignoring that my own memories of learning to ride a bike involved tantrums, tears, and a certainty that adults COULD NOT BE TRUSTED.

Anyway, The Big Bonding Moment never happened.  Not because of tears or tantrums, but because Mike never got the chance.  Raines hauled his heavy bike out onto the sidewalk to show it off to the neighborhood kids, including Luke, a nine-year-old who always seemed impossibly old compared to my little guys.  “Miss Shana?  I can teach him to ride,” Luke said casually.  Pax had picked that exact moment to freak out, so as I carried the screaming/flailing Pax back into the house I said, “Uh…OK, Luke.  Go ahead.”

I went inside to change Pax, and when I came out – it couldn’t have been more than ten minutes later – Raines blew past me on his bike, Luke running behind him.  “LUKE!!!!” I bellowed.  “WHAT HAPPENED???”  Luke stopped, confused.  “Uh….he just got on the bike and rode?” he said, giving me a funny look.  “I barely did anything!!!”

Oh.  Right.

The genius part of balance bikes is that they teach the hard part – the balance – almost immediately.  It’s innate, just based on the design of the bike.  And when you see your kid cruising by with their feet up….

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….you know they’ve got the balance down pat.

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Learning to pedal can be tricky, and I think much of it has to do with development and motivation.  I remember Raines, when he first started preschool, had no earthly idea how to ride a tricycle -the pedals were totally puzzling – and anyway, he couldn’t understand why anyone would ride a super-slow trike when the Strider was a possibility!  I swear he rolled his four-year-old-eyes as one kid s-l-o-w-l-y triked on past.  In hindsight, Raines probably would’ve loved a BigWheel, but the Strider bike spoiled him with speed while preparing him for a real bike. So once Raines decided he wanted to learn how to ride a two-wheeled bike, he figured out the pedals pretty quickly.

Motivation?  High.

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There are other balance bikes on the market, but we swear by Strider.  Why?  Because it’s built like a real bike.   The frame, wheels and components are exactly what you’d find on a real bike, just smaller.  Striders can do long distance rides, mountain bike courses, and, even without pedals, appease little speed demons like Raines.

Also?  They last.  Raines’ Strider bike was used and abused – in just about every environment you can imagine, including the beach and SNOW – and yet was in good condition for Pax to ride (Pax started around age 2).  Raines’ Strider finally met it’s end after the last two winters of accidentally being stored outside (oops – those were our cancer-and-recovery-years).  But we’re talking about 4-5 years of near constant use by two crazy boys in extreme conditions.  Not. Bad.

In any case, Pax was thrilled to get a new one….in red.

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“Mom?  I wost my fast.”

I don’t know when we’ll upgrade Pax to a “big boy bike”.  Pax is easily frustrated, and we don’t really have a great outdoor storage solution for a large bike, so…yeah.  But I can’t see that being a problem for a loooong time.

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Be Brave tee | Star leggings | Converse

He looks pretty happy, and just like his brother, found his fast.

You can read more about Strider Bikes on their website (and also see if they have Strider bike races in your area).   You can also buy Striders on Amazon (prime shipping, baby) in blue, pink, yellow, orange, black or wed.  I mean red.

One final note:  Pax started riding the Strider easily, right around age two, because he had been watching his brother.  It took Raines, however, a good six months to warm up to the Strider.  We had bought it for him around age two, and he didn’t have a clue what to do.  Our early outings ended in disaster.  We ended up bringing the bike inside, and letting him play around (or ignore it) for roughly six months.  One day Raines decided he was ready, and just took off, me running behind.  The rest is history.

A huge thank-you to Strider for sending Pax his new red bike.  We are die-hard Strider fans FOR LIFE.

xo!

S

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About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

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12 Comments

  1. Totally agree – we did this with my younger son and he was balancing (and scaring the h*ll out of me zooming down our street) by age 2 1/2. My older son struggled with the traditional training wheels method. BTW you don’t need to buy a balance bike, just take the pedals and cranks off of a 10″ or 12″ bike. (Sorry, sponsor!)

  2. I’m just going to log my comments in regards to my kids “not getting it” when it comes to balance bikes. I read this miraculous stories of kids just figuring it out on their own and that has simply not been the case for our two boys, both with very different personalities. The older one (now 4.5) was so cautious that he never lifted his feet. ever. He just walked around with it. We went traditional training wheel bike for him this summer and he is liking that a lot better. My younger, more daring one (3), did amazingly well on a Fly Bike last summer, so I figured the balance bike would be right up his alley. Not so. He gets so frustrated with it and just throws it down on the ground. So, we went traditional tricycle for him…which he is also not totally into. I’m bummed, because he was so good at the Fly Bike. All of this said…we live in Pittsburgh where there are not a lot of flat places to learn to ride a bike. We have to pack the bikes up anytime we want to ride them, so they don’t get a lot of chance to practice unless I’m intentional about throwing them in the car when we go to the playground so they can ride on the tennis or basketball courts. So…I just wanted to give some people perspective that these bikes are not necessarily miracle workers. (Other moms in our hilly neighborhood concur. There’s only about a 25% success rate w/ balance bikes in our neighborhood.) One other con to the balance bikes is you go through shoes quickly…because they are the brakes. I specifically got a pair of Keen sneakers with practically a steel toe so my three year old could stop the Fly Bike.

    • Same here. I’ve been waiting a year for my daughter to warm up to her strider, but no luck yet. She’s 5 now and still weary of it. My two year old boy is curious, but gets frustrated with how heavy it is. Er, I hope one day one of my children ride one of our strider bikes.

    • It didn’t work for us either, although it did for our neighbours down the street. We didn’t seem to get past the disaster stage you mentioned for Raines at the beginning. We were pretty disappointed. Kids are different, I suppose. It’s such a great idea, though, and I’m glad we tried it. Meanwhile, we got training wheels and passed the balance bike on to the 3 year old across the street — hope it works for her!

  3. Yup, Strider is the best. Our oldest had one for a couple of years and then just hopped on a regular bike one day and rode it. BTW, pedal-less bikes are used to teach adults who don’t know how to ride, to ride. It’s definitely a good strategy.

  4. Same story here…at least so far! We have two boys–ages 5 and 18 months–and the oldest went straight from his Strider to a big boy bike in about 10 minutes flat…and, despite what all the balance bike converts told us, I did not expect that because I did remember the summer of torture and fits I put my parents through trying to learn to ride a bike! And, it did take some coaxing to get the oldest going on his Strider…we watched a few youtube videos with him and then let the power of other, Strider-biking neighborhood kids provide the inspiration. The little brother is already trying to get the hang of his brother’s hand-me-down–so we have hopes it will work again in a few years…but, as we’ve already discovered, they are not the same, exact boys.

  5. We got a Strider for my youngest when he was two. Making the switch to a pedals bike was a doddle for him and he was cycling around quite happily by 4 – no stabilisers required. The balance thing really helped with that. And I have to say we chose the Strider because it has a slight retro cool feel to it. The fact that it did the job and saved our backs was a huge bonus.

  6. I think strider bikes are the best! I didn’t know about them until I had my second child. My first child was having trouble learning how to ride a 2 wheeler without training wheels and she got on her sister’s new strider bike and the balance part clicked right away. I particularly like strider because the bikes only weigh 5 lbs. which is easy for the toddler to manage and also for mom and dad to carry if they get tired. They also have rubber wheels so no flat tires.

  7. Striders are great!!! We have let our kids start off walking around on them in the house (I know) to get the hang of it starting at age 2. By 2.5 we have had to make them outdoor bikes only because of how fast they zip around on them. We have also converted two cousins and two family friends to the strider method! Oldest son went straight to a pedal bike on his 4th birthday (again, in under 10 minutes like everyone has said) and daughter is 3 and still zipping along at an alarming speed on her strider. They have both taken a beating and have held up marvelously. Great bikes – I cannot recommend them enough!

  8. Another Strider fan here! My daughter (pretty risk-averse) started on hers at 2, and then we used the lure of a big-girl pedal bike to wean her from the boob when she was 3 1/2 (I know! We are such a hippy dippy family)! We definitely did not have the 10-minute experience, though. She was younger, so the coordination of the pedaling was a bit more of a challenge. I would say that it took a couple of weeks of getting out there every day to practice, but she got it, and there is nothing more adorable than a 3 1/2 year old girl cruising our coastal trail with long blonde hair flying!

  9. Oh holy fast had I known just how. friggin. fast those suckers go…like, trip to the ER fast. (Thank heaven for helmets.) But my son had that 10m experience and it was AWESOME. His sister would’ve too, but I couldn’t find a small enough pedal bike for her wee little frame so we had to go training wheels. Dear Strider, the size options, the weight, the tires…please make pedal bikes, too!

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