UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2017: THE CRUZEE DOESN’T SEEM TO BE ON SALE IN THE UK FOR LESS THAN £105 NOW SO I WOULD RECOMMEND BUYING THE STRIDER FROM AMAZON UK.
I have been researching for the best balance bike for my 20 month old son and originally came up with the Strider Balance Bike which markets itself as the ‘lightest balance bike’ on the market weighing 2.9kg (according to their website, 3kg according to their Amazon listing and my scales). It generally sells for £60-80 new and seems to retain a value of around £30-40 on the second hand market. I was just about to buy a Strider when, being a mountain bike geek myself, I decided to see what CRC (chainreactioncycles) had to offer. They have a ‘Cruzee Balance bike’ on sale for £58.99 down from an RRP of £99.99. On some further investigation it apparently weighs 1.9kg and if you register on their website you get a lifetime warranty. On the second hand market the Cruzee appears to retail a value of around £45-60 (though there are far fewer of them around). Despite a lot of researching online I couldn’t decide which one to get and I found it difficult to find a useful comparison (in English) so I decided to buy them both and do my own comparison. If you are impatient you can skip to the verdict here.
The two bikes share a lot of similarities. They both feel very sturdy and well built. The tyres are a foam material that seems very strong but cannot get punctures as they are not inflated. While the two bikes look very similar in terms of style (the frame, wheels and handlebars) there are some key differences between the two bikes which are
Weight is probably the key differentiator between the two bikes. Using my scales (which are accurate to within a couple of grams), the Strider weighs 3.01KG and the Cruzee weighs 1.91KG. This makes the Cruzee 30% lighter than the Strider and while 1.1KG may not sound like a great deal it is pretty noticeable. It is worth pointing out that most balance bikes (like the ones on sale at Halfords) are around 5KG. So why is weight important? The main reason is that it will be easier for your child to manouvre, when they fall over it is less likely to injure them and it makes it much easier for them to pick it up and get back on. It also makes it easier for mum or dad when they have to carry it or put it on the pram! In my view the Cruzee picks up a lot of points for weight.
The two saddles are quite different. The Strider has a moulded plastic saddle with no material or cushioning. I don’t necessarily think this is a problem as I don’t think my son is going to be doing any long distance riding on this bike and he spends as much time on his feet as sitting in the saddle. The Cruzee on the other hand has a material covering and a small amount of padding/cushioning between it and the plastic base. It
is also notable that the Cruzee saddle is a bit bigger than the Strider – you could argue that the slightly larger saddle gives them more stability but at the same time you could argue that for much smaller children (18 months or very petite) the smaller saddle might actually be more comfortable.
There are three other differences which are worth mentioning. Firstly, the Cruzee comes with quick release on both the saddle and the handlebars which makes it easier to adjust (the strider requires an allen key). Secondly, the Cruzee comes with an allen key based axel (see picture below)
rather than the traditional bolts on the Strider, this means there are no bolts sticking out if the child falls on top of the bike they are less likely to hurt themselves. Thirdly, Strider is a British company whereas Cruzee is an American one .
Both bikes are excellent. For me, the Cruzee wins though. It is quite noticeably lighter and easier to handle, the seat is softer and it comes with a lifetime warranty for the first owner. At the current price (at the time of writing) it is also £1 cheaper. To be honest I would be happy to spend an extra £10 for the Cruzee but if the Strider was more than £10 cheaper than the Cruzee I would probably consider buying the Strider as it is still an excellent bike and there is not an enormous difference between the two.
Cruzee Balance Bike £58.99 @ Chain Reaction Cycles