How early is too early to introduce your child to bikes? If you consider yourself a cyclist, and you’re also a parent, you may have already pondered that question. When it comes to first bikes, balance bikes seem to have won out as the gateway to pedaling freedom, but what comes before a balance bike?
For Strider, that answer is the 2-in-1 Rocking Bike. Think balance bike meets rocking horse. Only, this rocking horse can detach from its base and roll around the neighborhood as a fully functioning balance bike as well.
First introduced a handful of years ago, Strider just made a substantial improvement to the Rocking Base design. Namely, the complete platform is now entirely tool-free. After shipping out in a box the same size as a 12″ Strider bike, the Rocking Base assembles from five main pieces.
Once you snap each of the rocking runners together, the top platform interlocks with the runners. Then, large locking pins hold it all together.
It’s the same story for the bike support stands. They simply slide into place, locking with an audible ‘click.’ Note that there are two different sets of supports – one for the front and one for the rear.
Which allows for the biggest improvement to the Rocking Base – quick release bike mounts! As you transition your little one from the rocking stage to the balance stage, there will be plenty of times where you’ll want to take the bike off the Rocking Base for a quick exploratory session. But then mount it right back onto the Rocking Base until the next time.
Easy Installation and Removal
Thanks to the quick releases, installation, and removal of the bike is extremely quick. Just line up the front axle with the slots on the front wheel support, slide it back, place the rear axle on the rear support, and snap on the quick release caps. To remove, just reverse the process.
In spite of the lack of tools and quick releases, the Rocking Base is surprisingly secure. And strong. Strider lists a maximum rider weight of 40lbs (18kg), but I can confirm that it can support my full weight…
The new Rocking Base is sold separately for $79.99 and is compatible with the 12″ Strider bike line including the Classic, Sport, and Pro Balance Bikes.
Strider Sport 2-in-1 Rocking Bike
But the platform is also sold in a package with a 12″ balance bike to go along with it. There is a choice for the Sport model shown above which features a steel frame, or the Pro model which lightens things up with an aluminum frame for a bit more money.
Strider sent over the Sport 2-in-1, and like the Rocking Base that came with it, assembly was tool free. Almost. Shown above is how the bike actually ships with the wheels and seat/seat post already installed (that extra seat post is the XL post for when your kid grows out of the first one).
All there is to assemble the bike is to slip a plastic “bearing” over the steerer, put the steerer in the head tube, add another plastic disc on top, and then install the quick release and the bar/stem. I needed the included allen wrench to tighten the quick release bolt, but that was the only tool needed for the job.
Cartridge bearings are used in each hub, so no adjustments are needed there. The axle nuts were plenty tight. The tires are air-less and made from a super light foam, so you can forget the pump (and flats). And without a real headset, there is nothing to adjust. Strider seems to acknowledge that while most kids ride bikes, most parents are not bicycle mechanics. And thanks to the clever packaging, if your kid opens this as a gift, you’ll be able to get them riding in no time – regardless of your technical abilities.
Without the Rocking Base, Strider lists the 12″ Sport Balance Bike as intended for 18 mos – 5 years old. However, add in the Rocking Base and that recommendation drops down to 6 – 18 mos. That obviously depends on your child’s development and their ability to balance themselves on the seat and grasp the handlebar. Our daughter is just over 11 mos. now, and is able to fully support herself on the Rocking Bike, and is curiously figuring it out at her own pace.