I'm two weeks into my StreetStrider riding experience. After eight enjoyable outings, totaling 35 miles according to my RunMeter iPhone app, I'm a believer in this outdoor elliptical machine.
Which I usually call a "bike," since it has three wheels and bike parts -- brakes, shifter, chain, etc. As noted in my first StreetStrider post, I had it assembled by a local bicycle shop.
After my first 2.6 mile ride, I felt like the StreetStrider had kicked my butt. And I'm a 65 year old guy in very good shape. Now, StreetStrider and I are like good buddies rather than sparring partners.
I've learned a lot about how to ride the StreetStrider. Below I'll share some tips.
My favorite route is 5.3 miles at Minto Brown Island Park here in Salem, Oregon. It's got some mild to moderate ups and downs. With a short rest/water break, it takes me about 39 minutes. Average speed: 8.2 mph. Top speed: 15.7 mph.
Terrific workout. I'm already feeling like I'm in considerably better shape than I was before. Equally important is how much freaking fun the StreetStrider is.
No way am I going back to exercising on an indoor elliptical machine at our athletic club. I go to the club after a StreetStrider ride to lift weights, do some yoga/Tai Chi, and shower. My vow is to ride the StreetStrider rain or shine (here in Oregon during the winter, there's usually a lot more of the former than the latter).
On to the tips. I've been practicing Tai Chi for ten years and enjoy Taoist philosophy. So I'll share these tips in sort of a Tao of StreetStriding style.
(1) Become one with the StreetStrider. At first I fought the machine. I tried to control it. Then I realized that it knew how to StreetStride, and I didn't. I began to relax into the striding motion, letting the pedals and handlebars do their thing, with me following along. Much more enjoyable that way.
(2) Trust how you feel. There's a pace that feels "right on." It changes all the time. This depends on how I feel, which in turn depends on my energy level, weather conditions, terrain, other people on the multi-use trail, and such. I've learned to go as fast or as slow as I feel like going. Pushing too hard isn't fun. "Patience, grasshopper."
(3) Hold lightly the handlebars. Most of my StreetStriding energy seems to come from the pedals. Usually the push-pull motion of the handlebars provides minimal extra motion, unless I'm going up a fairly steep hill. So I grip the handlebars loosely. The StreetStrider wants to "carve" back and forth like being on skis or riding a longboard/skateboard. Allow it to do its thing.
(4) Shift weight side to side, not back and forth. After my initial ride I had some soreness in my left calf. I think it was because I was unconsciously trying to move the StreetStrider pedals forward and back, rather than simply shifting my weight side to side. Left-right weight transfer provides the power, not pushing the pedals forward and back.
(5) Turn by leaning outward. For a while I turned by stopping pedaling, then weighting the leg on the side I wanted to turn toward. This works fine, but I found that a better way to turn is by leaning my entire body outward in the desired turn direction. This lets me continue pedaling through a turn. And is more fun.
(6) Get down for more power. When StreetStrider and I are in sync, which usually takes me a mile or so given my relative "newbie" status, I feel like the striding power comes from my core rather than my legs and arms. Particularly when I'm actively using the handlebars to get up a hill in a low gear. Then it feels like my body also is lower; everything sinks; energy flows from the abdomen.
(7) Stride slower, go faster. As noted in (1), at every moment there's a striding motion that, like Goldilocks experienced, is just right. Not too fast, not too slow. The more I StreetStride, however, the slower it is. Probably because I'm generating more power, so feel comfortable in a higher gear. Pedaling fast in a low gear isn't as enjoyable or necessary, unless I'm pumping up a steep hill that takes all my effort.
(8) Dance with your partner. I've begun to experience a dance-like quality to the StreetStrider. It's when I let the StreetStrider move as it wants to move, while I move as I want to move. Not sure who is doing the leading here. Maybe both of us. This is when I get a glimpse of the Tao or Joy of StreetStriding.
This isn't like bicycling. This isn't like longboarding/skateboarding. This isn't like skiing. I can do all of these things. StreetStriding has some of the feel of each, yet has its own unique exercising personality.
Now, your experience on a StreetStrider will be different, because we're different people. The last few times I used the StreetStrider I thought, "I was born to StreetStride" (sung off key inside my head to Born to Be Wild, of course).
I'm pretty adventurous. I rode a Burgman 650 maxi-scooter for a while. I've been into martial arts for a long time, Tai Chi for the past ten years. I took up "land paddling" on a longboard skateboard a few years ago, so find it natural to turn by leaning.
Nonetheless, I think just about anyone would enjoy riding a StreetStrider.
And I say this of my own volition, with zero financial connection to the StreetStrider folks (they have a referral program where, I believe, you get $50 if someone you talk to buys a machine, but I haven't signed up for this).
To be able to exercise outside, having fun doing it, getting a great aerobic and core workout in 40 minutes or less, riding a "bike" that is safe (excellent brakes, three wheels, good handling) -- what's not to like?
Well, for some the size and weight.
I already had a two-inch hitch on our Highlander SUV, so bought a StreetStrider rack along with the StreetStrider. I have no problem lifting it on and off the rack, but some people would. The rack can decline, though, allowing the StreetStrider to be rolled onto it.
Without a rack or pickup, the StreetStrider would be tough to carry around in most vehicles. Some models fold, but not the 8-speed version, which I definitely recommend if you plan to use the machine on anything but flats and mild inclines. HIlls are tough even with 8-speeds, believe me.
On the whole, my two week, 35 mile review of the StreetStrider is... all smiles.