By Jeffrey Stern
The Strider 14x Sport for kids ages 3-7 is the ultimate two bikes in one that has tons of features making it a great option for those with kids learning to balance and ride. It creates a level of confidence and riding skills that are second to none, setting a foundation for years of success. The best part of the 14x setup is that it easily converts from a balance bike to pedal bike and back again for the next young child in your family. After a few months of testing, we found a bunch of pros and a few cons to go along with it – let’s be honest, no bike is perfect! All in all, the Strider 14x is a fantastic choice for the budding riders in your family.
What we liked:
- The bike concept and their execution of the convertible bike is really good. You can go from coaster bike to pedal bike in just a few minutes. You add chain, gears, guard cranks, pedals in one easy bolt on unit.
- The tires are a good medium width to give a good ride, but not go so slow like many other tires.
- Our test pupil, Hayden has run the wheels straight over many sharp corners, where we expected a pinch flat, but it never happens.
- Geometry is right on if you want your kid to have a good fit and good position. Hayden puts a lot of other kids to shame on the bike, in large part because most kids have poorly fit bikes.
- Color/design is nice and the tires grip well. Some models have foam air-less tires that don’t seem to have the same traction as ones like the 14x with real rubber tires.
- Nice geometry saddle. Whoever designed the saddle is a real biker! Many other kids bike seats are not so good.
What could be improved:
- Grips come loose pretty quick. We added duct tape to increase the diameter of the bars and the grips work perfectly now.
- Pedals are super narrow. It seems that they did this so the kid could still ride with his feet on the ground with the pedals on and not have the pedals get to in the way. While this is great for that purpose, your kid will move past the transition stage quickly and then the pedal bike has super narrow pedals from then on out, which is not the best. We bought new full width pedals and replaced the narrow ones, because we could see Hayden’s feet pop off them all the time. It would be better if Strider supplied pedals the telescoped out or a full width set, if they want this bike to really be a full on coaster bike as well as a pedal bike
- The bike is not hyper-rust resistant. Goes with the territory for kids bike, as they are typically less expensive.
Ryan McFarland, the founder of Strider over a decade ago, took the time to answer a few questions about what inspired him to start the business, where he sees the company going in the future and more.
What’s the story behind creating and founding the original Strider bike?
The Strider bike was a result of my eagerness to teach my 2-year-old son, Bode, how to ride. After buying all the typical products such as ride-on toys, tricycles, and training-wheel bikes, I realized that none of these vehicles truly fit my boy or focused his attention on the fundamental skill needed to ride a bike — balance. Being an avid motorcyclist and mountain bike rider myself, I knew that proper fit was the very foundation to riding success, so ultimately I had two choices… wait a couple of years until Bode could better fit the products currently on the market or create a bike perfectly fit for my son right now. I didn’t have the patience to wait, Bode on a bike at age 2 meant that we could soon be riding together, father and son. Motivated from a personal standpoint, I headed to the garage to create the perfect toddler bike. That garage project turned into the Strider Balance Bike, and now there are nearly 2 million Strider bikes in the marketplace. How cool is that! I also love that each purchase has a purpose with Strider, that’s really cool and unique.
From kids to the elderly, Strider truly touches many people in such a meaningful, yet simple way. What’s the inspiration and story behind this component of the business?
I am always looking for and believe there is a greater purpose in life. My faith leads me to care more about improving lives than focusing on profitability. I try to put faith into action when I can, for example, the Strider Rider Fund is a commitment to dedicate a percentage of top-line revenue to charitable purposes every month… that money goes to charity whether the company makes a bottom line profit that month or not. I believe that as a company we have a responsibility to give to God first, without fail. Through faith and dedication everything else will fall into place. I also believe riding provides an important early experience of freedom that instills a lifelong appreciation of freedom and desire for more freedom. This appreciation and desire are life changing and are the foundation of a strong nation and a fulfilling faith.
Where can we see Strider going in the future?
Strider will continue to expand its promotion of the riding lifestyle that celebrates freedom and adventure. As a company, Strider continually wants to introduce kids to the joy of riding at ever younger ages (Baby Bundle!). We will continue to push for active, health-focused events and activities that get kids on bikes enjoying the community of riders instead of sucked into the isolation of their mobile devices. We are an ambitious company, and one of our ambitions is to see every kindergartener in America fully proficient and pedaling a two-wheeler. And while we’re talking ambition, Strider wants to see the extinction of tricycle and training wheels… extinction meaning gone forever.
The 4-step pedal process and emphasis on safety in the guide is really extensive and well thought out. Safety is a huge issue with the proliferation of bikes across all age groups in this day and age. As the next generation of kids slowly graduates from a Strider upbringing, how does Strider expect to see it’s influence translate in the years to come?
When children learn a skill at a very young age, their brains physically develop specific pathways to perform that skill— making them better at that skill than someone whose brain doesn’t have that direct pathway development. This means it will be more natural to them, as easy as walking or even breathing. When kids are so skilled at riding that they don’t have to “think” about it, they will not only be safer riders for life, but they will be better riders. We envision Strider graduates setting new records and performing new feats that have never been done before. We have no doubt that future Olympians and World Champions will state that they started their racing career at age two on a Strider bike.
From Taylor Kuyk-White of the Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling Program:
Since the Youth Bike Summit (and our work in positive youth development through bicycles at the Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling Program) is all about nurturing youth voice, independence, and leadership, I left this project completely in the hands of the youth who enthusiastically volunteered for the opportunity. Special kudos go to Jahmiel Jackson who is a new athlete with us and an aspiring writer, currently writing a fantasy novel, for taking the initiative on this piece.
By Jahmiel Jackson, Mya Miller and Kayla West
Every year a group of passionate, proactive and inspiring youth, young adults and seniors alike meet to converse about everything from problems in the cycling community to the components that make it an enjoyable sport. Although the location may change, the resolve of these riders and supporters does not.
The Youth Bike Summit is an event that is held annually. It establishes a place where all age groups can learn and educate others about their experiences and go to vigorous workshops on many topics on cycling. This year it was held in Arlington, Virginia from October 6 to October 8 and was hosted by Phoenix Bikes. In addition, organizations and youth groups can apply to give presentations about their journey in the cycling work. Over the course of three days, cycling advocates have the chance to bond over good food, inclusive and fun activities, and awesome presentations.
One of the main reasons why so many people attend every year is to be a part of what the Youth Bike Summit represents: unity, diversity, and positive social change. The sensational topics in this year’s discussion were invoking and widely accepted from the crowd of supporters, like the oldest woman to travel across America on a bike, how to make your own all-girls team, and an eighth grader that started his own bike shop. Overall, it is a place where all voices can be heard and respected.
The messages at the Bike Summit resonated well with one group in particular: Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling (BCYC): a program under the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. BCYC fosters healthy habits, independence, and leadership in youth one ride at a time. It was BCYC’s third time at the Youth Bike Summit and second time preparing and presenting. BCYC Youth continue to be inspired by the multitude of youth based cycling organizations, each year bringing home innovative ideas such as implementing a Youth Advisory Committee. When asked how the Youth Bike Summit has affected her, Mya Miller a BCYC athlete of three years, responded, “It has fueled my desire to be involved in Youth based cycling because seeing other youth gather from across the country to do something similar meant that I was able to do it too, and that’s the kind of motivation I need to keep me involved and leading more projects.”
In retrospect, the National Youth Bike Summit will continue to accept feedback from its participants and always try to procure a better and safer cycling world. However, it starts with YOU. Are you passionate or curious about cycling or just want to share an opinion? Then the Bike Summit is the place for you! It welcomes and encourages you to be apart of the amazing cycling world and outstanding people that make it up.
A couple months ago, I was in San Rafael for the Sunset Criterium and got to witness the kid’s race, which was one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen, despite not having, wanting or even really liking children. The little kids on balance bikes were the cutest of all.
It turns out that there is actually a national balance bike racing series for toddlers and children presented by Strider Bikes called the Strider Cup, which will be held in three different cities throughout the country as well as a final “World Championship” race in Boulder, Colorado.
The races aim to be family-friendly and provide a chance for small children to put their balance bike skills to the test and compete in a friendly and encouraging atmosphere. The races are open to children between two and five years old.
The Strider Cup races will be found in the following cities this next year:
- Saturday, May 5: Fort Worth, Texas, in Sundance Square
- Saturday, May 26: Cleveland, Ohio at the Public Square
- Saturday, June 16: Seattle, Washington, at the Seattle Center
- World Championships: July 19-20 at Civic Park, Boulder, Colorado
This past year’s World Cup hosted over 382 toddlers from 10 different countries and organizers are expecting over 500 toddler-aged racers from around the world to compete in 2018. Participation in any of the racers automatically qualifies the rider for the World Championship. Pre-registration will open in January.
A typical Strider race scene features excited and proud young parents and grandparents eagerly encouraging their young racers as bright yellow cowbells are rung and the starting gate drops. Toddlers, some still in diapers, wearing colorful helmets lean forward at the 24-foot wide start gate, kick their short little legs, and embark upon their 650-foot-plus journey over obstacles such as tires, water features, and wooden ramps. Parents cheer, run alongside the course as though it were a cross-country race, and coach their little ones to the finish line. All racers are treated to a celebratory podium award ceremony immediately following their main race, where they will receive either a trophy or a medal and pose for the crowd of proud parents and spectators.
As one parent put it, “best part was seeing the joy on my child’s face as he got to go down ramps and through tunnels. In every picture he has a huge smile on his face. He is still talking about it and was showing off his trophy to everyone. The whole event was amazing and adorable.”
Visit the Strider Bikes website for more information.Tweet Print