This Balance Bike Will Have Your Toddler Riding in No Time
It's never too early for your little one to ride on 2 wheels!
It was the video of a 20-month-old confidently lifting his legs up off the ground and beginning to coast on his little Strider balance bike that really sold me. Maybe I was being too aspirational, but as a bicycle lover who pounded the streets of New York City for 10 years on everything from a Bianchi to a Fuji, I’m hoping to raise a bike-loving son.
The best way to get your kid ready to ride a bike by age three or four without training wheels? The balance bike by Strider, which has no training wheels or pedals, teaches your kiddo how to balance and coast.
I remember how long it took me to learn to balance on my bike at age five, once my dad started to take my training wheels off my pink bike with streamers on the handles. I was so afraid, and I was used to the stability of training wheels. The Strider takes all of that stability away at a young age, and instead, it teaches you the truth about bicycles: that they’re inherently unstable, and your body needs to do the balancing.
My son, at just shy of two years old and quite large for his age, is the perfect candidate for the Strider bike. We decided to try out several formats. We borrowed a friend’s Strider 12 Sport and gave it a spin. Our son was intrigued, but wasn’t too sure about it. However, after we left it around our living room for a couple days, he started getting on and toddling around.
So, it was time to go outside. We took our son and the Strider 12 Sport to a local park known for teaching kids to ride bikes, strapped his helmet on, and let him toddle around on the bike in the grass.
Eventually, he wanted to go onto the pavement himself, and he was zooming around with both feet still on the ground. He had a few tricycles before, but this was new, different, and challenging to him. You could tell he wanted to imitate the other kids around him who were also on Striders, or soaring by on big kid bikes, but he wasn’t quite ready to lift his legs up and fly.
What’s really cool about the Strider line is the variability. Their very first bike is a rocking bike for ages 6 months and up. You can get your baby on this before he or she is even walking, then take it off the rocker and transform it into a balance bike when they’re ready.
The next step is the 12-inch sport bike we road-tested. This is the one we ended up getting and definitely recommend — it’s good for 18 months and up, it’s super lightweight because of its aluminum frame, and it has an easy, no-tool assembly. The seat height has a large range of inseam lengths, from 12 to 20 inches, which means your kiddo can ride this one for years. The max weight is 60 pounds, so we know we’ll have this model for a while.
From age 3 on, you can upgrade to the 14-inch Strider. It’s a slighter larger version of the 12-inch that allows you to transition into big kid biking with an additional Easy-Ride Pedal Conversion Kit.
I’m not going to lie — part of me is in it for the cuteness. Our "Awesome Blue" Strider Sport 12-inch is a pretty cool-looking little bike — it looks super rough and tumble, like a mini BMX bike. I’ve dressed our son in matching blue outfits just so I could get some picturesque memories to show him when he gets older. But the Strider also comes in other colors like "Fantastic Green" and "Funky Fuchsia."
As an ardent bicyclist, I’m so excited to inspire a lifelong love of biking, including its functionality and aesthetics, by gifting our son his first Strider. I happen to think being on two wheels is almost as natural as walking for humans, and I can’t wait to see him take his next biking steps by lifting both legs and coasting around his favorite park — just like the big kids. Every day, he gets a bit closer with this little bike, allowing it to wobble as he tests his own balance and confidence.