Other than the lack of pedals on Strider Balance Bikes, one of the main other noticeable components that parents see is there are also no visible brakes. This is concerning for some parents as they ask how their child is supposed to stop themselves on the bike. We decided to try and put the concern to rest and explain the method to our madness at Strider.
Our Strider designers have spent years researching brake designs and observing toddlers on bikes, thus helping them make the safest decision for the child and a sense of relief for the parents. To start, there are 3 different types of brakes that they had to consider: No brakes (feet on the ground), foot brakes, and hand brakes.
Children who start out on Striders typically begin at a very young age, sometimes even before they can talk! Keeping this in mind, young riders intuitively know 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 would only be confused by adding an extra step to the process, putting your child’s safety at risk. Foot control means confident speed control!
Although our 12” Strider doesn’t come with a foot brake installed, the next logical step for a young— but 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. 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.
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.