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Strider Grads

Bode McFarland

Millions of kids have learned to ride on a Strider, but what was it like to be the first? Bode McFarland shares his memories of the earliest Strider bikes and how they shaped him as a grown-up rider.

The first Strider Bike was built in 2007 by Ryan McFarland for his 2-year-old son, Bode. Now, 15 years later, nearly 4 million kids have learned to ride on a Strider. We sat down with Bode McFarland, the very first Strider Rider, and talked with him about how growing up on a Strider shaped him into the rider he is today.

How does it make you feel knowing that you were the very first Strider Rider?

BM: It’s a crazy feeling knowing that I was there from the very beginning, and to see what it has grown into! I am happy that millions of kids are learning to ride a bike the way I did. Biking has been one of the best things in my life. Just knowing that these other little kiddos get to experience the joy, mobility, discipline, and freedom of two wheels at a young age means a lot to me.  

Do you have any core memories when you started riding the Strider Bike?

BM: Back when I was on a Strider, I was obsessed with making obstacle courses and tracks. Whether it was in the driveway, at the Strider office, or anywhere that two wheels could roll. I was always pushing myself to go a little faster, slide a little further, or jump a little higher. One of my favorite memories is from when we set up a booth at Laguna Seca Speedway back in 2009. On one of the days, they had a kid’s bike race through an obstacle course. Of course, all the other toddlers were racing on regular pedal bikes, and I was on my Strider. I didn’t know what to expect but I dusted the pack and took first place! I was really happy. I always loved showing off new tricks/skills to my dad and it was the best when he would get the camera out to make YouTube videos. When the business was just getting started, I remember spending a lot of my time as a “mobile advertisement”. We were always testing out new prototypes and designs, so we took a Strider with us almost everywhere. I think my dad would notice when people were glancing at the weird no-pedal bike when we were out in public, so he would tell me to go ride up to them with a big smile and hand them a business card. 

Did you ever feel weird riding a bike with no pedals?

BM: When I was riding the Strider, I wasn’t concerned about it looking weird or what other people might think. I spent most of my two wheeled time on the strider, even after I could ride a pedal bike. I liked how simple and light it was because it was easy to practice tricks and jump around.  

Were you the first of your friends to learn to ride a bike?

BM: My 3-year-old friends back then were also Strider test riders, so we all learned at the same time! People were always surprised when they asked, “how old were you when you learned to ride a bike?” and I’d answer with “three”.   

Boy does a wheelie on the first blue Strider Yamaha Balance Bike

How has learning to ride on a Strider impacted your love of riding? 

BM: Growing up on my Strider is the foundation of my love for riding. It’s been in my blood from a young age, and I was able to learn lots of skills I needed for biking and moto. I remember being obsessed with supercross and I knew all the riders, what bikes they were on, and their race number when I was 3 years old.  I always wanted my Strider to be a 450 dirt bike so I could hit those big jumps and rail the corners. Strider riding ignited my two wheeled passion and I love riding more and more every day.  

What is your favorite trick/jump to do on a bike?  

BM: Doing a whip and getting the back end out on a big floater has got to be one of the best things in the world.

What is your favorite place to ride and why? 

BM: There’s only one right answer for me and it has got to be Bentonville, Arkansas. The engineering and trail development is on another level!  

How many bikes do you currently own?  

BM: Right now, I have 4 bikes. I’ve got a yz250fx, an e-bike, enduro bike, and a trials bike.  

What is your favorite biking snack? 

BM: My absolute go-to biking snack would be some salty potato chips, a snickers bar, and ICE cold water!  

Who are your favorite people to ride with? 

BM: I love going out with my brother and dad. We’ve gone on lots and lots of adventures with two wheels. I also like to hit the motocross track every now and then with my cousin Dane of some of my buddies.  

If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

BM: I’m going to be basic and say Whistler, British Columbia. It’s the top dog for mountain bike parks. The trails are flowy, and the jumps are big, so I’m all for it!

Why bike? 

BM: Aside from the most important thing, fun, it improves cardio-vascular and aerobic fitness, boots energy, builds muscle, and improves coordination. You can challenge yourself to learn new things and the discipline you need will transfer to other things in your life.  

What’s a piece of advice you can offer to kids learning to ride?  

BM: Don’t be afraid to be creative! Try new things, go over obstacles, ride in the grass, ride in the snow, do whatever you want! When you love to ride, you live to ride. The most important thing is to just have fun on your bike! 

Is there anything else you’d like to add or would like people to know?  

BM: Milk gives you superpowers.