Learn To Stride Guide

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When balance and steering are mastered, transitioning to a bicycle with pedals or a motorcycle is easy. A child needs to experience the feel of leaning and how steering affects the balance of the bike. Congratulations on taking the first step toward teaching your child to ride! Welcome to Team Strider! You are one of the many adopters who are changing how kids learn to ride and are establishing the standard for how young children explore the world on two wheels. We’re so happy to take this journey with you and your child. The fundamentals of learning to stride will be the same for each bike. However, there may be references to different models within this guide. Please follow the instructions for the model you have purchased.

Teach your child to stride
Follow these 4 simple steps to striding success!

Learning to Stride: Adjust The Bike

Step 1
Adjust the bike to properly fit the child

Adjust the seat of the bike so both of the child’s feet are flat on the ground and there is a slight bend in the knee. A good starting height is 1” less than the child’s inseam. Kids grow quickly, be sure to adjust the bike every few months. If you are seeing your child struggle with becoming comfortable on the seat, try different height adjustments until you see an increase in their confidence.

Step 2
Support the child – not the bike

We instinctively want to help the child by holding onto the bike to keep it from falling. Do not do this. Learning to support the weight of the Strider on their own is their first lesson in balance.

Learning to Stride: Suppport The Child
Learning to Stride: The Child Sets The Pace

Step 3
Let your child set the pace

Some kids may not sit on the seat at first. This is OK! Their security is in their feet at this point, and we want them to feel secure. As they become comfortable walking with the bike between their legs and using the handlebar, they will soon use the seat. Let them transition at their own pace… they will be striding before you know it!

Step 4
Support your child, don’t direct them

Some children only want to spend the first minute or two walking their Strider around. Praise them for any amount of time they spend on the Strider. If your child’s Strider has handlebar brakes ignore them for now. It’s going to be tempting for the little one to want to reach for the brakes, but we want them to be confident first. Their confidence comes from striding and stopping with their feet.

Learning to Stride: Don't Direct

Adjust the bike to properly fit your child

The seat height is the most crucial adjustment when fitting the bike to your child. Ensure your child’s inseam falls into the seat height range of the Strider Bike. Typically, adjust the seat so it sits approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) below your child’s inseam.

Seat Height

Start by having your child stand next to the bike and adjust the seat so that it sits slightly lower than the top of their inseam. To open the quick release clamp on the seatpost, open the lever with one hand, and slide the seat to the appropriate position with the other. When your child is comfortably seated on the bike with their shoes on, there should be a slight bend in the knees (see the photos below).

Expert Tip
  • Expert Tip IconTo tighten a quick release clamp, you should press down firmly with the palm of your hand to close.

Handlebar Height and Reach

The best starting point for handlebar height is to set it with respect to the seat. If the seat is at its lowest setting, set the handlebar to also be at its lowest setting, etc. Try multiple adjustments to find out what makes your child feel the most confident.

On both the seatpost and handlebar, there are minimum insertion marks. For your child’s safety, insert the posts into the frame far enough so the dashed lines do not show (see diagram above).

Expert Tip
  • Expert Tip IconDoes your child have the tendency to hit the frame of the Strider Bike while running? Try lowering the seat to allow more leg clearance.

Safety Gear

Adjust the crown of the helmet so it doesn’t move while the child rides. The helmet should be worn low in front, slightly above the eyebrows to protect the forehead. The helmet should fit snugly, but not uncomfortably tight. The chin strap should be worn well back against the throat, not on the point of the chin. If a child opens their mouth wide the helmet should pull down on their head. To check the basic fit, hold the helmet with both hands and twist it gently to the left and to the right. If the helmet fits properly, the skin on the forehead will move as the helmet moves. To check the strap tension, hold the helmet with both hands and try to remove it by rolling the helmet forward and backward. Don’t forget shoes! Children should always wear closed-toe shoes while riding.

Support the child not the bike

Avoid the urge to hold your child’s bike up for them. They must be allowed to feel the bike lean from side to side to learn how to keep it from tipping over completely. Your child always has 4 points of contact with the ground: two wheels (one in front and one in back) and two feet (one on each side of the frame). Children learn by watching someone demonstrate what they want the child to do. Get out your bike and show them how you would stride! Is your child having trouble getting on and off the bike on their own? Try having them step over the frame of the bike while it is laying on the ground and then lift it between their legs by grabbing onto the handlebar and pulling it upward.

Let your child set the pace

Riding a bike is more than the time you spend in motion. Help your child enjoy the entire riding experience by mixing it up, taking breaks and making the entire ride an adventure. Every time they push it, pick it up, play with it or ride the bike, it is progress! In Strider Education Classes, Certified Instructors have their students use small dowels, approximately 38cm (15 in) in length, to practice steering and turning. While holding a dowel – or imaginary handlebar – have your child practice turning by walking and pretending to steer through turns. Make it fun, try pretending they are airplanes! Encourage holding the dowel away from their body with arms extended like they would if they were on a bike. Once your child has practiced a few “imaginary turns” have your child try to balance by walking and steering all at once. When your child has this mastered have them try on their bike. For an extra challenge try steering around obstacles.

Be a cheerleader more than a coach

Nothing ruins the fun for a child more than being told what to do. We want your child to have the most enjoyable experience possible when learning to ride their Strider Bike. There are so many different things you can do on a Strider Bike! Help your child expand their imagination and their riding skills by introducing them to new obstacles, games, and activities before transitioning to pedals.

Why balance is so important

Balance is key to almost every physical sport and activity. Kids need to be active daily and balance play a big role in the development of our children. People of all ages and abilities can benefit from working on their balance and from being active.

A reminder to parents

Don’t rush pedaling. Striding and practicing balance is fun! Even if your child appears to be striding like a pro, moving to a pedal bike too soon can derail progress. Let them continue to practice and perfect their balance and bike-handling skills. Be confident that the time spent on their Strider Bike will help them easily transition to pedaling when the time comes. With the improved skills they gained it will be a safer and more enjoyable ride.

*If you have a 14x Sport model with handlebar brakes and your child has been proficient at striding, now is the perfect time to let them experiment with using their handlebar brakes.

Transition to pedals

How do you know your child is ready to transition to the 14x Sport and pedaling? If your child is proficient in the following steps, they’re ready to pedal:

  1. can support all their weight on the seat.
  2. is able to gain momentum by running with the bike.
  3. balances with feet up for extended periods.
  4. is able to avoid obstacles in his/her path.
  5. can lean through turns with feet off the ground.
  6. is able to find and use the footrests while riding.
  7. can control their speed.
  8. is able to stop safely with only their feet.

Most importantly, your child should want to attach the pedal kit. Once the 14x pedal kit is attached, the narrow pedals will allow your child to stride around the outside of the pedals to gain the momentum needed to begin pedaling. This means kids can skip the banged-up shins and frustrations that come with learning to ride on a typical pedal bike.

If you have a Strider 12…

Congratulations! Your child is on their way to becoming a balance bike master! Once your child has learned how to master striding, consider upgrading their bike to Strider 14x Sport. The Strider 14x Sport with the Easy-Ride Pedal Kit is the best next step in your child’s learn-to-ride progression.

If you have a Strider 14x Sport…

Only open the Easy-Ride Pedal Kit once your child is comfortable learning how to balance. We know how exciting having a pedal bike is, but if your child isn’t 100% confident, then it might delay their progress. We love to see pictures of kids on Strider Bikes. Submit your photos here.