The Strider 12 Sport is probably the lightest balance bike available in the market. But does that mean it’s any good? We give it to our junior testers to find out
We all remember our first bike, don’t we? I do. Mine was a red Hero Hansa. One of the main reasons I liked the bike was more than just the colour though – well, everyone knew it was the fastest colour but also the way it handled back then, with black tyres and white letters on it and lofty high-rise Porteur bars that I’d turned forward to get a feel of Bullhorn bars. It had a rear rack too that helped me transport all the stuff that Mom needed from that not-so-near grocery store. Well, I’d be lying if I said I always went to the closest grocery to run errands for Mom.
I was eight when I did all this, which, in hindsight, practically makes me a pensioner compared to the modern-day tots ripping around on the same roads I did, sometimes on one wheel! Hence, it did not take much to look for a couple of junior test riders to take on the bike in question, the Strider 12 Sport. But apart from that, I was in need of someone who would have the enthusiasm as well as the skill to tell me how it looked, rode and handled. Lo and behold, meet Eeshwari and Arush, our junior test riders for this issue.
Eeshwari is three-and-a-half years old, bright and brainy, with an amazing ability to put her discerning thoughts into words. Arush, meanwhile, is already an automotive enthusiast. All of seven, he can name any motorcycle or car pointed out to him. More importantly, he has the skills to handle a bike and a toy car. So here’s what the two tiny tots felt about the Strider 12 Sport.
In today’s time, it is quite hard for a manufacturer to come up with a product that is not only safe for the kids but also attracts them for its creativity. With the Strider 12 Sport, the company has definitely struck the right chord. It looks a bit incomplete without the pedals and brakes, but that is exactly what generated the interest in Eeshwari. “Look ma! No pedals!” she exclaimed at first glance. She was inquisitive from the get-go, pulling her hand away from her mother’s as she ran to the bike, admiring the alloy-like moulded wheels shod with 12” lightweight plastic wheels with ‘solid’ foam EVA tyres, the rigid steel frame, the perfectly designed seat, the paint finish, even the sticker that was one with the paint, crucial from a kid’s safety point of view. Why the lightweight plastic wheels instead of rubber tyres and a pneumatic inner tube? Well, to save weight and eliminate the hassle of topping up the tyres.
Off she went and hopped onto the bike, comfortably. Thanks to the standover height, the steel frame, and the adjustable handlebar with the safety pad and seat post, she had enough clearance to stand over the bike. Keeping in mind the pace of growth at this age, the Strider 12 Sport offers 12cm of seat height adjustment while the handlebar and stem can be raised by 8cm, giving plenty of room for expansion. Both can be tweaked quickly and easily with the supplied quick-release collars – no tools required, though we reckon your daughter or son will be on a pedal bike by the time they’re tall enough to need it. Eeshwari sat on the bike without complaining about the seat and could also use the built-in footboard to balance on one leg as well.
Next came our junior test rider, Arush, to tell the tale of how it handled and what made him happy and what didn’t. It all started with a wheelie! The Strider 12 Sport is super light and low slung, making it suitable for kids as young as 12 months. Arush loved the manoeuvrability it offered. Thanks to its well-designed geometry, which gave it plenty of room to lean in and extend his leg to hop around. It isn’t too long, heavy and unwieldy. He could even pick the bike up again with ease after he dropped it, which happened often, I mean why not, as long as your tarmac is a floorboard, carpet or tiles. It’s only the foam tyres that may not give enough traction or cushioning when he’d take it out on paved surfaces. While Arush was busy scooting around, it is the details that revealed the depth of knowledge of the people who designed the bike. Details such as the reduced diameter handlebar that accommodates a thinner grip – perfect for smaller hands – the well-padded but narrow saddle that allowed for slim hips and unhindered striding along with the plastic footrest for more accomplished kids like Arush to rest their legs on while coasting downhill.
The Strider 12 Sport is a balance bike meant for children as young as 12 months, or tipping the scales at around 12kg, which is revelatory. Many parents don’t even consider bikes for a kid of that age, as they assume their child is too small. Ryan McFarland, who came up with the idea of a redesigned bike for kids, has thrown conventional designs and assumptions out of the window, along with an invention which goes a long way in developing essential skills such as developing a sense of balance, posture as well as muscle conditioning and building reflexes. This is what makes the Strider 12 more of an investment than just a purchase, ultimately solving a problem most parents didn’t even know they had. Of course, it does not come cheap, the Strider 12 Sport retails at `11,150. But would you pile up your child with plastic toys or give them years of joy and set them up with developing their core strength, motor skills and self-confidence by giving them access to wheels? Well, that is exactly what we think of the Strider 12. To put Eeshwari’s and Arush’s verdict in a word: “Wheeeeeeee!