Strider is a brand of balance bike: a type of learner's bicycle that has no pedals but is instead propelled by the rider pushing their feet along the ground, designed to help young children learn to balance and steer. I decided to analyze this toy because of its flexibility of use, the ability to be used by children of different ages and also the accessibility for children with disabilities.
The toy encourages and teaches kids how to balance so that eventually they could transition to using regular bikes with more security. The use of Strider bikes is also encouraged for kids to play outdoors and do physical activities instead of being trapped inside a house or an apartment playing with video games.
The creator came up with the idea when he wanted to teach his 2 y/o son how to ride a bike and he wasn’t able to do it because the “kids bicycles” in the market didn’t behave in a way that suited the children needs. He then decided to design a more basic balance bicycle that would help little kids how to balance first and then eventually be able to transition to pedal bikes. He describes the concept as follows: "I wanted to really just strip it down to its essence. Two wheels, a seat, and a handlebar. That's it."
The advertisement around the Strider balance bike goes beyond just the physical product, they create a fun and engaging activity around the use of the bikes. Strider organizes “Strider Camps” and “Strider Races” across the country and even internationally. As a quick anecdote, when living in Costa Rica I saw a lot of kids engaging in this kind of activities, I was training in a running team and my coach’s daughter (4 y/o at that moment) was starting to use the Striker bike, her dad as an athlete wanted to encourage her to so sports as early as possible so he enrolled her in some competitions to get her started. An interesting interaction about the way that the brand tries to engage kids and parents with their products is by creating camps and competitions, and they use social media to reach out for kids.
In Costa Rica they created a Facebook competition, where the parents uploaded a picture of their kids using the Strider bikes and the one with more likes would win a free enrollment in the Strider Camp, of course I believe that this whole concept is highly monetized, and for the third world scenario where I was living, this might not benefit all the population, however they were giving options such as social media competitions and even scholarships for the kids to get engaged in learning and competing.
The experience that I saw from my coach is that he was able to encourage his daughter to start practicing a competitive sport since a very young age and at the same time engaging family and friends with her early development. The fact that they had to collect likes gave the Strider bike a lot of exposure and probably encouraged other parents to buy the bike for their kids and sign them up for start competing. In the pictures below you can see in the left, Valentina holding hands with Christian her father, who is finishing a marathon and trying to give her the example of regularly exercising, and then in the right is Valentina during one of her multiple Strider competitions in Costa Rica.
Strider Bikes have different products for different age ranges and also they offer products for children with special needs such as Down Syndrome, generating a big range of products that can be used by a large portion of the infant population. The inclusiveness and accessibility of the Strider Bikes is well advertised throw their media channels and they make sure to dedicate a special tab in their website for testimonials.
The emphasis that is put into the Testimonials section of the website is very interesting because they make sure that as a company (at least try) to create a product that is more accessible and at the same time they use this concept as a way of advertising the product and the values of the company. The changes or modifications in the shape of the bikes are not noticeable at simple sight which for me is a key characteristic of an “accessible” toy, specially because children with special needs can use essentially the same bike as their friends which I believe gives them a sense of independency and acceptance from others. Sometimes when a technology in general tries to be more accessible ends up making very obvious morphologic changes which end up affecting in a very negative way the intention of children to want to interact with it because they are afraid of being pushed away by other kids, therefore I believe Strider bikes is making a good effort for empowering kids with special needs.
The Strider Education Foundation is another initiative from the brand to be more inclusive with kids who’s parents have low income, which as I mentioned before, it might be a roadblock, specially for the camps and the races. The fact that they give away scholarships and they implement trainings at public schools gives them a broader scope to where their product can be positioned and enjoyed by kids. They also have the possibility within their own website for general users to “Adopt a school” and in that way be able to generate more impact through their products and programs. They also give the user the possibility to adopt and entire District, School or do a general donation.
The website also has a separate page for Strider Education, focused in two different emphasis: Parents and Educators. Their focus is on the fact that they first need to learn how to teach their kids specially because the main purpose of Strider is to eventually teach them how to ride regular bicycles and motorcycles, therefore the confidence that is built during the first years of interacting ith a balance bike is fundamental. There is also a factor of fear from parents specially if they have very small kids and they want to introduce them to the concept of the balance bike, this is where the education comes in very handy and it gains importance.
In conclusion I believe that the overall concept and use of the Strider Bikes is built with a very good intention that is being appropriately used around he world, I tried to search for different or bad uses of the bike and I didn’t find any shocking result so my assumption is that this is a fairly safe and interactive toy that encourage kids to learn how to balance, compete and have fun with their parents and friends, it also motivates them to go outdoors and stay away from technology and do physical activity, which in my opinion is very important for the early stages of development for children.