STRIDER Inventors Story
My name is Ryan McFarland and I love riding dirt bikes and mountain bikes. When I was a boy, my dad owned a motorcycle shop and raced dirt bikes. Riding and racing have been in my blood ever since. When I became a dad and my son turned 2 years old, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm any longer. I wanted to get him riding! I bought him the traditional little tricycle and the cute little 12" pedal bike with training wheels, each one decked out in racing stripes and decals. My enthusiasm quickly turned to frustration as I watched my eager son of just 20 pounds struggle with the weight and complexity of these so-called "children’s bikes". The daddy in me wanted to help him succeed; the racer in me wanted to build him a better bike.
So, I started cutting, grinding, and unbolting every piece of non-essential weight I could find. When I got to the drive train (pedals, cranks, bearing, chain, sprockets), I realized this was the majority of the weight and complexity. I paused for quite some time at this point as I pondered how to lighten the drive train. Could I drill holes in it? Could I cut away parts of it? Until finally… could I simply remove it completely? Hmmm… now a new dilemma, a mental dilemma… if it didn’t have pedals, would it still be considered riding a bike? What defines riding? Again, the racer in me urged simplify, simplify, simplify. After all, downhill mountain bikers don’t pedal, road racers descending a highway don’t pedal, and motorcyclists don’t pedal. They all are riding, so what do they all have in common? The ability to balance on two wheels and lean through turns regardless of what put them in motion. Pedaling is just one of many means of propulsion. Separating propulsion from the riding equation solved my dilemma. What can a kid already do naturally and instinctually? Walk! Perfect! I removed the entire drive train which dramatically lightened and simplified the bike. It also allowed me to cut the frame down further to lower the center of gravity and increase the stability. Now my little boy with his 12" inseam could sit on the bike with both feet solidly on the ground.
My son hopped on the bike and started walking without giving it a second thought. 100% of his focus was now on keeping the bike upright and centered under him as he walked. In short order, I could see him "experimenting" with holding his feet up between steps… trying to coast ever so slightly. At first, quite wobbly and only going inches before dabbing his feet back to the ground. But, he wasn’t FALLING, and he wasn’t SCARED, because his feet were on the ground. He was actually self-motivated to keep trying to glide further and further each time… with repeated "Watch me! Watch me!" as he beamed with pride. I simply let him play and learn at his own pace, and soon he was balancing and gliding at will, riding down hills, over the grass, and through puddles.
Fast forward a year… time for a pedal bike (3 years old). Lesson learned… buy a bike that is lightweight and simple… and no training wheels. This time, riding was the part that was natural and instinctual for him. The only new element was a change in the means of propulsion. So, confident in his own ability to balance, lean, and steer a bike, he could focus 100% of his attention on converting his 'striding' motion to a 'pedaling' motion. Easy! He was off; safely and proficiently riding in minutes.
Fast forward another six months… time for a dirt bike (3 ½ years old). Again, find the lightest, simplest dirt bike possible… OSET 12" electric trials bike… no training wheels. Again, riding was the part that was natural and instinctual for him. The only new element was a change in the means of propulsion. So, confident in his own ability to balance, lean, and steer a bike, he could focus 100% of his attention on twisting the throttle and pulling the brake. Easy! Literally within minutes he was riding around the field.
The essence of riding is balancing on two wheels and leaning through turns. Propulsion can come in many forms, the simplest of which is "striding".
About Strider Sports Int'l.
Strider Sports International, Inc. designs efficient, no-pedal balance bikes that encourage toddlers to ride, learn, and explore the world on two wheels. Founded by Ryan McFarland in January 2007, Strider Sports is a company full of passionate riders of dirt, mountain, street, and road bikes. The goal of Strider Sports is to simplify a bike to its essence, so that proper size, lightweight and simplicity combine to eliminate any fear of riding and instill confidence in young new riders. The original bike built for the inventor’s son evolved through numerous prototypes and was ultimately issued a U.S. Patent. The company then proceeded to brand the product by consistent worldwide use of unique logos and slogans protected by U.S Trademarks. The branding efforts continued with a push to develop a "lifestyle" of Strider riding events and competitions, which has evolved to include a Strider World Championship Racing event with toddler participants from around the world competing each year. The patented STRIDER™ No-Pedal Bike is now distributed worldwide.
About Ryan McFarland
Ryan McFarland is an entrepreneur with a passion for mountain biking and motor sports. Ryan grew up with a grandfather who was a race car engineer and a father who owned a motorcycle dealership. This early exposure to cars, motorcycles, and racing influenced Ryan to ride dirt bikes and mountain bikes, as well as race go-karts and stock cars. His mechanical inclination and his competitive spirit led him to invent the U.S. Patented Thudbuster suspension seat-post for bicycles and a U.S. Patented suspension system for wheel chairs.
His passion for spending time with his family, riding on two wheels and teaching other children how to ride using the STRIDER™ bike was the genesis for what is now known as Strider Sports International, Inc., formed January 9, 2007, in Rapid City, South Dakota of which Ryan McFarland is still the Founder, President, CEO and Chief Enthusiast.
About Strider Bikes
STRIDER balance bikes are industry-leading training bikes that help toddlers and children of all abilities and as young as 18 months learn to ride on two wheels. STRIDER balance bikes focus on the fundamentals of balancing, leaning, and steering without the distractions and complications of pedals or training wheels. The STRIDER’s simple, no-pedal design builds confidence and eliminates fear by allowing kids to have their feet on the ground and progress at their own pace. This unique design teaches young children balance on two wheels right from the start, avoiding developmental delays typical with tricycles and training-wheel bikes.
X-Stream Balance, Importer and Distributor of STRIDER Bikes in South Africa was founded by Chris Van Der Merwe through Love and passion for BMX Racing in 2012 in order to reintroduce it to South Africa from grass roots level. Introducing children to riding a bike through fun, social interaction and introduction to BMX Racing and other extreme balance two wheeled sport, opportunities and experiences are made available which allow growth and progression of individuals and sports. Through grass roots development, increased competitiveness ensures professional and capable athletes in the international arena. Find Out More