Welcome to our Strider ST-4 review. The Strider ST-4 is the latest no-pedal balance bike offered by the popular U.S. based company, Strider.
Its predecessors were Strider ST-2 and ST-3. The Strider no-pedal balance bikes are intended to help young children – those who already know how to walk – develop balance and coordination prior to learning pedaling on a conventional bike. This approach not only develops the child’s motor skills, but it also help builds confidence and diminishes any fear associated with riding bikes.
So, when time comes to get on a pedalled bike, the child is already experienced and ready to take on new bike challenges.
The name Strider has been on the forefront of the balance bike innovations. It is a name well known in the U.S. They are advocates of the balance bikes and promote the bike’s benefits through venues such as the Strider British Balance Bike Championships and Strider World Cup (Florida). Although they are usually the first brand that parents seek when it comes to balance bikes, several other companies are making their way into the market offering less expensive no-pedal bike options.
Strider’s targeted age-range, for this model, is the 18 month to 5 year old demographic. But, the bike’s scaled-down features are really more suitable for the youngest and smallest riders. The scaled-down features of the bike are almost a hindrance to older children – between the ages of 3 and 5 – who are usually heavier, taller, have larger hands and frames. For a comfortable ride, parents of older toddlers, may find it necessary to purchase additional Strider accessories (such as extendable seat posts, or wider seats, etc). This means, more money. And at a starting price of over $100, the ST-4 is not the cheapest amongst its competitors.
Those same hindrances, however, points out one of the benefits of the ST-4 model: It is adjustable and adaptable. Therefore it can be used between different siblings. Overall, the ST-4 is an improvement over its predecessors, showcasing new features and innovations.
The first part of our Strider ST4 review is dedicated to the tires. The ST-4 is equipped with foam tires, unlike the conventional air tire used by its competitors. Their design was recently improved with a new tread pattern and multiple knobs to allow for low rolling on paved surfaces.
The foam tires are lightweight and puncture-free (parents and the rider won’t have to worry about tire maintenance). Arguably, foam tires are not the best tire option for the child, for several reasons:
- Lack of flexibility – Air tires take away some of the shock-impact from the rider. The shock-impact is noticeable when a rider goes over bumps, or non-paved surfaces. Air tires are flexible and absorb the force of the impact. Foam tires do not. They are less flexible therefore leaving the rider to feel the force of impact. This can be hard for the body of a small child.
- Similarly, the lack of flexibility causes foam tires to lose traction on non-paved surfaces. Even with the new tread pattern and knobs, the traction performance is not as effective as air tires on all terrain surfaces. Foam tires slip easily.
Generally, unless a parent is planning to take the child riding in all terrain environments, or if they have a child at a skilled biking level (one who loves to perform daring tricks), foam tires are still workable. Since they are lightweight, the bike is less heavy for your child to handle. Nevertheless, parents have the option of switching the tires from foam to air. They will need to purchase a separate set of air tires, however.
Adjustable Quick-Release Seat Posts and Handlebars
The next part of our review of the ST4 looks at the adjustable quick-release seat and handlebars. The ST-4 features quick-release clamps on its seat post and handlebar. This allows for a quick and easy adjustment of the seat height and handlebars necessary for when the child grows, or if the bike is passed between different children. However, the seat post’s and handlebar’s height can only be extended so far which means parents may need to buy extra parts.
Parts and Accessories
Strider sells many separate parts and accessories to personalize, or enhance the the ST-4’s performance. In cases where the bike is shared amongst siblings, parents can purchase seats, handlebars, and more to custom the bike according to the specific child’s needs.
Therefore, the bike is able to grow with your child. For example:
- Extra-long seat posts and handlbars are available for taller siblings – maximum height on the ST-4 is 11 inches.
- Launchpad foot rests, which eventually become a valuable addition to the more experienced rider – able to perform tricks.
- Strider Snow-Skis which are placed under each tire. The child can stride on the bike during snow days.
- Brake kits. The ST-4 are not equipped with breaks, but parents can purchase them separately. There are no handbrakes available; instead, footbrakes – mounted on the base of the seat post – are used and activated with the child’s heel.
- Handlebar grips in different sizes can be purchased as the ST-4’s factory handlebar grips may be too small for older children. These are available in many colours.
Other new features
The ST-4 possesses new features, and in some cases, improvements over the ST-2 and ST-3 models. These include:
- Sealed Cartridge Bearings. The ST-2 and ST-3 were equipped with cone and cup bearings which require more maintenance than the sealed cartridge bearings. Cone and cup bearings are easily worn if moisture penetrates its system. Sealed cartridge bearings are designed to keep grit out which will make them impervious to breaking down. Additionally, they allow for a more smooth roll.
- New Powder Coat Finish keeps the paint on the bike from chipping away. It is more durable.
- Weights 3.5kg (6.5lbs)
- Rider weight limit is 50lbs
- Welded steel fram and handlebars
- Quick clamps on handlebar and saddle
- Adjustable seat height: 28 – 42 cm (11 – 16 in)
- 12” molded wheel, foam tires
- Toddler sized, softer durometer grips
- Powder coated finish
Pros of the ST-4
- Strider’s ST-4 is adjustable and adaptable. Therefore, the bike can grow with your child. As the child grows physically, the bike can be altered to accommodate the new height and weight. Furthermore, as the child’s biking experience and skills develop, the ST-4 can be customized with cool accessories to accommodate riding in all terrain situations and daring tricks. This adjustability is also ideal for families sharing the bike amongst different aged siblings – different height and weight. Currently, the ST-4 is equipped with quick-release clamps on its seat post and handlebar, allowing for quick and easy adjustments.
- Lightweight and small frame makes it easier for toddlers to carry around and easier to handle while riding.
- Maintenance free features. With its foam tires and sealed cartridge bearings, no need to worry about punctured tires or grit getting into the bearings.
Cons of the ST-4
In many situations, the same features that make the Strider ST-4 a good balance bike, are ones that also prevent it from becoming the best balance bike in the market.
- The scaled-down features, small and light frame are ideal for the youngest and smallest of the 18-month to 5 year old age range, but not so much for the older and bigger group. Older and bigger children have complained of discomfort when riding the bike. In examples like the narrow saddle and the lack of padding on the saddle. Some complained about the light frame that did not make it necessarily ideal for certain bike tricks.
- The price makes the ST-4 the more expensive amongst its competitors. And if the parent needs to purchase parts and accessories separately – because the factory default parts are not ideal in their situation – more money is spent.
Strider ST-4 Balance Bike (Review)
The Strider ST-4 is a go-to option for parents due the reputable Strider name behind it. Strider continues to develop new ways to make the riding experience better for its customers. The ST-4’s lightweight and maintenance-free features, makes it an ideal no-pedal balance bike for young children as young as 18 months. Its adjustable and adaptable features make the ST-4 a quality bike that can passed from one child to the next. Its drawbacks however are its price, and its light frame (ironically) – which many of the 3 to 5 year old children find too small. Therefore, at an already high price of $100, parents may not find the ST-4 financially ideal; particularly, if their child will need to go beyond the ST-4’s standard features.