Strider Balance Bikes, look like a regular bike until you notice the lack of pedals. Parents also see is there are also no visible brakes. This can be a concern for some parents as they ask how their child is supposed to stop themselves. We haven't forgotten them! Let's try and explain our madness.
Strider Bike engineers have spent 10 years researching brake designs and observing toddlers on bikes. It is this research that has helped us gain the reputation as one of the safest bikes on the market. Strider specialise in balance bikes. The original Strider design has been researched and tested continuously over this time.
There are essentially 3 different types of brakes to consider, when building the perfect all terrain vehicle for a toddler: No brakes (feet on the ground), foot brakes, and hand brakes.
Children who start out on Striders typically begin at a very young age, around 18 months old! As our riders are far younger than the typical balance bike starting age, young riders only understand one thing “Feet control my movement; they hold me up, make me stop, and help me go.” So, our young riders who are already naturally using their feet to make their bike go, slow down, and stop, as that is the intuitive way the bike makes them control it. By adding an extra step to the process, and we have seen this on other bikes it confuses them and potentially puts your child’s safety at risk. Foot control means confident speed control! Too much speed then grasping for breaks is not the quickest way to stop. We are also trying to teach instinctively knowing that if brakes don't work, then the quickest way to stop is feet down. Similar to if your brake cable snaps.
Although our 12” Strider doesn’t come with a foot brake installed, the next logical step for a young— but slightly more experienced rider would be to learn how to use one. Taking this into consideration, Strider offers a foot brake that is a simple bracket that can be attached to the bottom of all 12” frames. We wouldn't suggest fitting it to start - it would add unnecessary weight and confusion.
The brake has no cables or levers and requires no maintenance, which keeps it simple for all parties involved. Once the child is ready they would be able to push their foot on the brake instead of keeping their feet to the ground. This also encourages them to keep their feet on the footrests. However statistically the number of bikes we sell compared to the number of people that come back for a brake suggests they really aren't needed or used. If your 4/5 year old is Strider Racing then it is no brakes anyway.
While hand brakes are the final and best solution for a teenager or adult bike rider, they have some major drawbacks when it comes to young kids learning to ride. Most of the levers on hand brakes are too large and difficult for a child or toddler’s tiny hands to reach and squeeze, resulting in them being unable to stop. Hand brakes also require young kids to understand how they work and what lever to pull for the correct brake. We’re not sure if you’ve ever tried explaining that to an 18-month-old, but after much trial and errors we decided not to go there.
Further, the concept of a brake just doesn’t make sense yet to these young riders nor does it offer any functionality. Trying to teach the use of a brake during these early days only adds confusion and frustration to a child's experience. The added weight to the bike including extra parts/protrusions (levers, bolts, cables, etc.) are safety hazards and could injure the rider during a not so graceful fall.
In conclusion, we vote to keep it simple and go with the most natural approach. A young child on a Strider Bike can quickly slow or stop the bike by simply following their instincts and pushing their feet to the ground. Once your child is ready for the next step the foot brake kit can be added to their Strider to broaden their riding skills.