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Review: Strider 12 Pro - (2016 Model)

Strider 12 Pro - The ultra long-term review

(Duration of use: December 2016 - August 2018)

Ultimately the double-act for my own bike the Strider 12 Pro is my son’s first bike. Now if you are reading this, you may not know the advantages of a balance bike - but that advice is widely known from dealers, parents and other reviewers. This review like my others won’t be conventional but writing it after 2 years of ownership I will provide a perspective, some key reasons why its selling points are justified as well as some real-world adventerous use.

The bike was a purchase even before my son could walk, but as soon as he could walk he was on it. Also, as you just read from the previous sentance (yeah go back and read it) we paid for it, it wasn’t donated, sponsored or supplied for review.

Note: At the time of writing distribution from the UK will not be seen in future, as only a few stockists will keep models of these. However are still going strong.

Maintenance advice and experience will follow in another article but let’s get down to the details.

The 12 Pro is at the time of purchase the silver-coated aluminium framed “Sports” offering from Striderbikes. Well known for their “racing” pedigree it’s the draw for many parents, but seeing the geometary and the well thought out contents there is a lot of attention from this company to be a bike to last. It will last until 4 or 5 years old. By 2018/2019 the model has improved to offer a shorter seatpost for it’s improved seat rather than the hard plastic one, and a rear-stay platform for feet-up riding.

The bike was boxed (to my memory) with only the handlebars to fit, which if you ride a bike to any degree of competancy you’ll be able to adjust simply to your child in terms of their height, saddle and handlebars. That’s your only adjustment, there is no stem or forward-rearward saddle adjustment as it is a fixed seatpost with no rails. The bike comes with a harder plastic saddle for very small kids, with a super short seatpost which due to the geomoetry does protrude out of the base at the lowest setting. It also comes with a 2nd longer, wider and more padded saddle for older kids with a predominately longer seatpost. Both are marked with “minimum insertion” distances. Simply put you shoudln’t be able to see the insertion warning mark on the seat-post.

Unboxing and adjustments now and in the future.

With your rider no doubt learning and helping every time you adjust the saddle and bars, you will find you will need to tighten the seatpost with some torque with an allen key. The seatpost mount lacks grip and the saddle will twist if put under some “enthusiastic” use. Always ensure that the saddle is adjusted to allow you rider to have their feet flat on the floor (in whatever shoes they use for riding). You will know when to adjust it when their feet drag a bit - once they are proficient or that you find them standing up and not sitting down as much as they should.

Starting them young, and with the Strider Bike 12 Pro being the lightest balance bike i’ve seen with longevity built-in; this will have the advantage of getting them highly practiced on steering and manuvering as well as confidence going down kerbs and eventually almost adult graded skills areas.. (yeah i know, but beleive me its just gradual practice and confidence).

However young means low saddle, and small saddle so they are sometime reticent to sit down, and will need encouragement. Adjustments to height should only be in 0.5 cm increments in my view then observe and adjust again but not too much so they get bored and just want to ride :) Personally we switched to the longer saddle early and just cut-down the seatpost to stop the post dragging on the skateramps… but see how you go.

We’ll deal with skills, and other advanced advice later from our 2 years of experience but £100+ sure sounds like a lot for adults who may only spend twice this on an adult bike? Why exactly should we spend over £100 when I can buy a heavier bike for far less?

  • Your kid will be able to lift it up themselves and even put it in the car its so light, even when they fall over and their legs get tangled in it.
  • They will be able to lift the front wheel over obstacles
  • Your kid no matter the age will always have a vast power to weight ratio, allowing them to get up to speed quicker allowing “striding and gliding” as well as stop fast with no need for brakes.
  • Any addition of improved wheels won’t add drastically to the bikes weight, and adding this strider wheelset isn’t just great for older strider bike riders (4+) but great for balance and stability in rough conditions.
  • If you consider the value of trips out with your kid, then £100 over 2 years, if you have “free” places to ride near you this if you use it even 2 days a week, works out about 50p per week.

I didn't ride a balance bike as a kid, how can i teach them?

Guidance on how to begin, i always go with Dan Lloyds GCN video on balance bike teaching. Basically - don’t steer for them, just gently guide or make your presence felt under the arms until they know they can put their feet down and slow themselves down that way. And go from there. It’s that simple. I don’t need to mention helmets, but make it fun and just like their bike, make helmets an everyday occurrance and it’ll be second nature. Often once they are on their bike perhaps indoors initially then putting a helmet on is a lot easier. There are some with pinch-free clips and look at those brands which offer a crash-replacement policy.

When should they start to ride?

Early on, they may not be into the idea but starting before the “Twos’” really can help them get the bug for riding, which becomes every-trip down the local shop if you have the pavement. Or taking it in the car as routinely as wellington boots- just on the off-chance of finding somewhere to ride. After a while just like adult bike enthusaists your trips out are for going to just that perfect place for the Striderbike. Depending on your kid, once they get into their twos, they may offer some resistance (just because they can) to many new ideas, so get the bike early and just have fun with it, and persist. If they don’t like the helmet, try again another day, play games with it, hats, things on their head, put it on your head and so on, see you wearing one, get the idea?

How do i start?

A positive mindset with growth mindset is essential for persevering with biking as dusting their hands off if they fall off, and maintaining the “oh dear try again” approach is essential. Just as important is the “love” of rain, sun, mud and puddles. Get some tiny (fingerless) ideally) gloves to wear designed for kids biking. (Giro do some great tiny ones). No weather is cause for a frown, not going out, or for excessively warm clothes which will just very quickly make them miserable and hot and you won’t know as you may be walking.


Where and What can i modify

I’m sure that strider themselves would advise to not modify the bike, certainly if you are planning on racing as an even playing field is essential and certainly shouldn’t be about parents with very deep pockets and a lot of enthusiasm. Let’s keep the racing as an experience, but certainly one you win with exposure to them as well as physical development.

1. Tyres

The Striderbike 12 Pro is for everywhere, and more solid aluminum wheelsets aren’t just for 4 year olds, you may find that a strong younger kid will get a lot more stability on ramps, on turns on loose or rough terrain and also absorbs lots more of the bumps of the trails. Typically once you are saying “whoh that’s pretty fast”, then it’s time to buy them. These wheels bring with you the opportunity to put on “Grippy” blackjack 12” Schwalbe tyres - and you get to keep the more “ramp”/”pump-track” tyres for just that on long dry days. You may think the increased resistence of a knobbly MTB tyre like the blackjack would be a problem but it won’t be even to a 2 year old, and once they get up some speed they’ll need it. While you have the foam plastic wheels on they are super-light so enjoy the pavements, kitchens back yards and parks - but you’ll know when your kids demands more and the terrain needs a better wheelset. I found that the “gliding” long strides came more naturally on these smoother rolling aluminium wheels which strider supply at a reasonable price. Typically the super-light versions of this bike make adopting the new wheels something you can get into much earlier.

2. Advanced Wheel Modification.

Though at the time of writing we haven’t done a tubeless conversion, i’m sure i will when the strider becomes an experimental project. I’ll update with a new article on whether the rims can deal with it with a proper application of rim-tape and effort.

There are some crazy carbon wheelsets, and i’ve even seen competition grade BMX bearings/hubs with lightweight spokes and sprayed rims done as custom projects.

3. Handlebars and Stem.

While the strider has a direct mount stem - with zero stem size, an enabler of some forgiving steering habits for learners there are after-market stems in a BMX style and sometimes partnered with bars with rise, rake and custom grips.

Final opinions and thoughts.

Improvements that Strider should make:

Headset. There isn’t a headset on a strider which reduces weight a bit and price a lot, other competing brands are using them now, but having a stem at all, brakes, heatset and larger bars all add weight. That may do little for stability, but it makes the wrangling of the bike for the kid themself more difficult which is half the experience.

Preparation for Pedal Bikes:

With no brake, your kid will have to take time to learn what brakes are when transitioning to real bikes, which will be in a future article. There is probably a window for most early starting balance bike riders where brakes can be introduced “later” just before pedal cycles are introduced whether that is at 3 or 4 depending on size. Retaining the strider, you will find that a taller kid will start to be unbalanced on it in terms of their more “over the bars” position compared to how they used to be. Above all other things, starting early on a strider bike will teach your kid to steer with confidence, or rather to lean to steer. It’s not pedal car steering, and you can’t steer for them. Often i see riders who started balance biking between 2 and 3 (nearer 3) who ride instantly, very fast and very confident but with a pronounced “wobble” in their steering as they haven’t built up the muscle memory yet for precise control, (and leaning) which is very necessary on ramps or as speed picks up downhill and off road.

See for you for the next bikes in our riders series soon...

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