Sunday, April 14, 2013

Balance Bike Review - Strider vs Kazam

When I was a toddler back in the 1980s, I don't think balance bikes existed. Kids learnt to cycle by using a regular bike with training wheels attached. As the kids got more confident, the parents would slowly raise the training wheels, a bit at a time, until the kids got the idea of balancing on their own.

The key to learning to cycle is balancing not pedalling. Kudos to the people who invented balance bikes for kids. These are essentially bicycles without pedals. Kids as young as two, who are confidently walking on their own, should be ready to ride a balance bike. They start off by walking with the bicycle, and as they get more confident, they'll move on to taking big strides and running with the bike. In the process, they figure out to steer, how to lean / move their bodies to counter balance and hopefully how to ride safely too. 

We bought Nathan his first balance bike for his 2nd birthday. We decided on a Strider because it is one of the lightest balance bikes around.

Getting his helmet fitted
First time riding a Strider (24 months old)

When he started out, he was really just walking with the bicycle...

video

A few months later, still walking, but a teeny bit faster now...


Taking bigger strides, but still hardly lifting both legs off the ground at the same time.


As he got more confident, he was taking bigger strides and running with the bike... around this time, Noah was ready to start on a balance bike too. So I passed Nathan's Strider to Noah, and got Nathan the Kazam.

Noah on the Strider


Now, he's capable of cruising & steering...



He's going so fast now, I actually have to run after him to keep up. I will probably need to get a bike rack for the car so I can bring my bike to the park to cycle with him next time. I'm also thinking of transiting him to a real bike soon. :)

If you want your child to learn how to cycle, get him a balance bike, NOT a bike with training wheels. Training wheels do not allow children to learn how to balance. Take off the training wheels, let them run with the bike, and they'll learn how to balance intuitively.

So what's the key difference/s between the Strider and the Kazam? I attribute the differences to the bicycle weight and the presence / absence of a foot rest.

Weight
The Strider weighs about 3kg, whilst the Kazam is about 5kg. For kids starting out young (say around 2 years old), the Strider's light weight makes it much easier for them to manage.

Foot Rest
The key feature of the Kazam is the foot rest. Most balance bikes do not have a foot rest like the Kazam's. When Nathan got more adept at running and balancing, the foot rest became incredibly useful. He had a comfortable place to rest his foot while he steers the bike down a gentle slope. With the Strider, there was an 'integrated foot rest' which did not allow the child to put their feet in a natural position. I found that Nathan just lifted his legs up, and left his feet in midair. From my observations, it seemed to hinder his balance.

Both the Strider and the Kazam have adjustable handlebars and seats, and should grow with your child till he's ready to transit to a proper bike. They cost about the same too. So for kids starting out young (at about 2 to 3 years old), I would say the Strider is a better option. For older kids, either the Strider or the Kazam will do fine... but Nathan certainly preferred the Kazam.

One more question that many people ask... where to cycle? It seems there isn't that many places that is accessible and safe enough for kids to cycle. The cycling track nearest our place is a 10 minute walk away, and it involves walking / riding by the road. I am not all that comfortable letting Nathan cycle by the road, and would usually load his bicycle in the car and drive to the track. Another place we frequent is West Coast Park. The stretch between McDonalds and the Go-Kart rental shade is a lot less crowded than the stretch near the playgrounds. The gentle slopes around the park is good learning ground too. For now, our favourite place to cycle is the stretch between Satay by the Bay and Gardens by the Bay. Park at the Satay by the Bay carpark and the track is just a short walk away. If you have a favourite place to cycle... let me know. We'd love to check it out!

Cycling near Satay by the Bay


Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored review. All opinions are my own.

6 comments:

  1. Very helpful comparison, thank you!

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  2. Thanks for the informative post! There's a wide range of balance bikes out there, and I'm not so bewildered with them now!

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  3. Hello! Great article with nice pictures! Would like to ask where in Malaysia would we be able to buy Strider and Kazam bikes?

    Thank you so much!

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  4. modern children has lot of new things which was not there at our time, this is a good invention to teach children balancing bikes.

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  5. I was also confused with strider or kazam... now i am quiet clear which to grab for my little one.. thanx a ton

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  6. I have 2 little ones that would use this balance bike, my son is 3 and my daughter is 1 (it'll be awhile for her).

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