Best Beginner Bike
- What: Strider Balance Bike
- When: Ages 18 months to 5 years
- Why: Learn balance and steering, lightweight, adjustable
- Where: Amazon
We invested in our first Strider balance bike more than five years ago, and it still looks great and works like a charm. I had seen another kid learn to balance almost immediately after switching from a pedal bike to a balance bike, so I was already a believer before we invested.
But after owning one for so many years, now my enthusiasm knows no bounds. I’ve seen, held, and tried to transport other balance bikes, and none of the them measure up. This bike weighs less than a lot of newborn babies at 6.7 pounds, yet it can hold up to 60 pounds. The lightweight Strider can be easily carried in one hand while pushing a fully loaded stroller with the other. I can even throw it on top of my stroller because I need the other hand to hold onto the kid who got tired of riding or fell off or whatever other mishap occurred to deter them.
The seat and the handle bars both feature quick release clamps for easy adjustment. I don’t need a single tool to switch the height of either thing as my kid grows. More importantly, it makes it a cinch to switch between two siblings of different heights once we get to the park and one goes running the playground and the other grabs the bike for a ride.
The plastic wheels wrapped in foam mean flat tires never slow them down, and I never have to worry about pumping up the tires as the weather changes from hot to cold and back again. The plastic seat holds up well to all sorts of rides and wear and tear. It does not come with a kickstand, so it often ends up laying on its side when parked. Despite that, the few scratches are purely cosmetic, and it has more dirt than damage.
It also has two places to rest their feet once they master balancing. Then they can easily coast downhill as far as they feel confident, without getting tangled or stuck on pedals. It has no brakes to accidentally engage, so they can focus on balancing and steering and nothing else.
Despite the fact that it is a smaller bike, it can last for years with the seat and handlebar adjustments. My five year old can still fit on it, though she has since upgraded to a bike with pedals and brakes. We’ve used the same bike from the time my eldest turned two until now, when my third child will eventually inherit it after he parts with his tricycle. Other brands, like the wooden type, have zero adjustments and weigh so much I have trouble carrying them even without other things like strollers or kids or diaper bags.
The Strider encourages smooth transitions from each stages of learning to bike. Your child can start standing and walking holding onto the handlebars. Once they get the hang of that, they move to seated walking, followed shortly by seated running. The next stage involves gliding while seated, and for advanced riding skills, they can also stand while rolling.
The Strider can be blinged out as much as you like, with streamers, baskets, bells, or spoke decorations. It comes in seven different colors (black, blue, orange, green, pink, yellow, and red) to appeal to a wide range of preferences. It boasts three models to suit different price ranges.
The Classic version has none of the bell and whistles like the padded handle bar and no tool height adjustments. The Sport model fits a larger range of kids, up to age 5 instead of three, and adds the extra features the Classic model lacks. Finally, the Pro version shaves a pound off the bike’s weight and adds bonus items like a number plate that hangs from the handlebar and larger footrests. We have an older model, with most the features of the Sport version, which is the one I would recommend if you can’t decide.