His creation generated interest from parents who saw little Bode running around, and he decided to make a business out of it.
“I would have people driving down the road next to us where he’s tiny and zipping along the sidewalk. People driving down the road would pull over, get out and ask us about this bike because they had a little kid and they can’t believe he’s riding so well,” McFarland said. “After enough of those, it’s like OK, I’m evidently onto something and I’m missing the boat if I don’t do something.”
McFarland started Strider Sports International in 2007 to develop and sell balance bikes.
Because it was created with performance riding in mind, not as a toy, the Strider became the standard for balance bikes. The company sold 600,000 bikes last year.
And, as is usually the case with kids, the bike riding became a competition, leading to the first Strider races in 2009. The races became big draws at BMX and pro cycling events, giving the little ones a chance to participate and adults something that’s kick-in-the-pants fun to watch.
Strider racing is now a sanctioned class by USA BMX, which holds races across the United States, including national championships.
“We’re seeing a big push for a lot of parents to get their kids out on Striders,” said Jay Lucas, who built a Strider track next to the BMX park in Eagle. “It’s nothing for us to go out on a weekend and see a mom with her kids and their Striders out on the little Strider track. It’s going big.”
The bikes and races are as functional as they are fun. When kids are first learning to ride bikes, they typically start with training wheels, then have their parents chase them around, holding the seat while they try to gain balance.