Strider Wheels: Foam Rubber vs Heavy Duty?
The Strider U.S. Championships have come and gone. What an amazing event, but more on that later. This conversation will pertain more to the equipment used at these races. More specifically, the tire choice. Foam rubber have a distinct advantage in that they weigh significantly less and are maintenance free. BUT... Are the foam rubber tires suitable for the high demands of toddlers on a mission?
In just about all form of racing tire selection is the difference between winning and losing. R & D is performed to see what works best in a variety of extreme conditions. Most production tires for dirt bikes began their life in a racing environment. I decided to take a closer look and analyze how the Strider tires performed at the race. The race terrain included smooth street concrete, wood, brick, grass, obstacles, and wet tile.
Corner 1 of the race course offered unique challenges for the tires. The kids were really pushing hard to get the holeshot. The start straight was smooth street concrete with painted street lines, approximately 1/2 of a city block long with a slight downhill grade. At the end of this strait was a tight 180 degree turn. At the beginning of practice we quickly realized that this corner would be a challenge for the kids as 4 of the first 5 kids ran into the fence. The kids ran into the fence because of their skill, not the tires. Not one kid crashed in this corner because of tires loosing grip. This was even more impressive as the 4 and 5 year olds took to the course. These kids railed the corner with their feet up and enough speed to make any parent nervous.
foam rubber 1 - heavy duty 0
Corner 2 of the race was another 180 degree corner, but what made it unique was the fact that it had smooth plywood as a ramp to get up on the curb which transitioned to brick. Once again the foam rubber tires handled this slick surface with ease. I saw several sneak to the inside to make a pass here and never had a tire slip. foam rubber 2 - heavy duty 0.
Just past corner 3 laid an 8 foot long rumble strip section. This section had 1 inch tall ripples in a V shaped pattern across the path. A person would think that the pneumatic tires would offer some cushion to the bumps, but as long as the kids kept their momentum the foam rubber tire worked just fine. As a matter of fact the foam tires proved to be less bouncy and helped keep the kids going straight. foam rubber 3 - heavy duty 0.
By far the most challenging section for any tire, corner 5 was a switchback section of wet slippery red tiles. From here kids could finally see the finish line and really began to accelerate hard. I think everyone involved in this race was a bit nervous about the slick surface. Once again the foam rubber tires performed remarkably. foam rubber 4 - heavy duty 0.
Are you noticing a trend here? I have a confession. My daughter raced the 5 year old class and I searched for a set of heavy duty tires a week prior to this race. I assumed that it would give her an advantage. Boy, was I wrong.
Look at this podium picture of the 5 year olds. These were fastest and heaviest kids at the race. Notice anything? All are running the foam rubber tires and they pushed their tires and bikes to the limits. Unless your child takes on 2 foot drops or you enjoy fixing flat tires often, foam rubber tires are the way to go.
Final Total: foam rubber 5 - heavy duty 0 You can purchase foam rubber tires HERE.