So you think balance bikes are reserved for the city park or paved surfaces? Think again! With the Dirt Hero off-road balance bike, Kids Ride Shotgun promise next level off-road adventures for the littlest trail shredders. We introduced our youngest tester yet to the world of mountain biking to find out how it holds up on the trail.
Inspired by daring gravity riders who dominate steep, gnarly trails, Kids Ride Shotgun decided to develop an off-road balance bike for kids. Introducing the all-new Dirt Hero, a balance bike that is designed to give the youngest shredders a taste of the trails. With the development of their child seat for mountain bikes, the New Zealand based company originally set out with the vision of allowing parents and kids to enjoy the hobby of mountain biking together. But instead of just taking your kids along for the ride, they also want to introduce them to cycling, trails, and the outdoors as early as possible. The Dirt Hero off-road balance bike costs € 360 and weighs 4 kg. It’s made of aluminium and rolls on 12″ tires. The balance bike is designed for children from 2 to 5 years of age. The cool thing about it is that there are a wide range of add-ons available, allowing you to use it for several years. When your kid goes through another growth spurt, you can upgrade the 12″ hoops to 14″ wheels for just € 20, and to help teach children the correct braking technique from the get go, there’s an optional hydraulic disc brake kit available for € 99. Note: the disc brake kit isn’t being sold separately at the moment, so we recommend including this upgrade in your purchase ;)
It goes without saying that we didn’t test the bike ourselves, however much fun it might look. We enlisted the help of our little test rider Lotti, embarking on her first trail adventure for us at just 2 years old. Joschi, our 4 year old test rider, was also allowed to test the wheel. The Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike is intended to give kids the opportunity to improve their skills and confidence in off-road terrain. Trails, woodlands, and gravel paths are all part of the playground. Is this where you’ll be spending your family time from now on? Lotti and Joschi helped us find out!
The bike and its components: Dirt Hero off-road balance bike – Kids Ride Shotgun
The Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike looks like a miniature mountain bike, but it’s not just looks: it also features trail-ready geometry. The sturdy aluminium frame isn’t decorated with flowers or superhero stickers, looking all grown-up with subtle white paint job. But, in case you and your little one prefer things a little more playful, the package includes three different MTB skins with which you can decorate the bike and also keep the paint looking fresh. There should be an option to suit everyone, with a choice of pink unicorn, yellow lion, or blue T-Rex. By the way, you’ll find matching T-shirts in the Kids Ride Shotgun shop to complete the look.
With its 2.25″ pneumatic tires from VEE Tire Co. and aggressive tread, the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero is a sturdy bike with plenty of grip. The fat tires help absorb bumps and dampen vibrations, so the kids can have a pleasant riding experience on the trail. As an optional upgrade, Kids Ride Shotgun offer a hydraulic MAGURA MT4 disc brake kit for the rear wheel. This allows kids to practise the proper braking technique from an early age, and stopping them from rolling away down the hill. Thanks to the generous lever reach adjustment, the lever can be brought close enough to the handlebar for even the littlest hands. The child-friendly design continues beyond the levers – the designers also gave some thought to the rotors, producing the first child-proof rotor guard to prevent any incidents. That way you can rest assured knowing that your child’s fingers are safe. Furthermore, since kids tend to grow up a lot quicker than we’d like, the Kids Ride Shotgun has an adjustable saddle height, so you can keep using the balance bike for as long as possible.
|Age||2 –3 years||3–5 years|
|recommended minimum in-seam length||337 mm / 13.3″||367 mm / 14.4″|
|minimum saddle height||317 mm / 12.5″||346 mm / 13.6″|
Ready, set, go – Off-road adventures for kids
Our little tester Lotti and Joschi ventured out onto the trails for us, putting the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero through the wringer. At just 2 years old, Lotti was able to climb aboard the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero without any problems, like a seasoned pro. She put on her helmet like a little enduro champion and let rip. This was also no problem for the 4 year old Joschi.The test ride started in the south of Stuttgart, almost on her doorstep. In order to build her confidence aboard the Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike, Lotti and Joschi first tried it out on the asphalt. All it took was a few quick laps and she was ready to find out how the balance bike would stack up in the woods, on gravel, and some more challenging terrain. The rocks and roots of the home trail just around the corner didn’t seem to phase Lotti and Joschi. The Dirt Hero balance bike made easy work of rolling over obstacles, and our little test shredder had a blast. They sat securely on the saddle and easily stayed upright with their legs as they pushed themselves along the trails. The grips seemed to fit their small hands well and the saddle didn’t cause any complaints, so we’ll assume it was comfortable enough. Unfortunately, the grips came loose slightly during the ride – a touch of glue could fix the problem. For Joschi’s feet, the platform for keeping feet up was almost too small. Children with large feet will quickly outgrow this. With the 2.25” VEE Tire Co. tires, rolling over small obstacles was easy and they clearly gave Lotti the confidence she needed. Mud, puddles, slopes – no problem. Pushing herself along next to her mom, she felt like one of the adults!
There was hardly any stopping the little off-road queen and Joschi the racer. It was only when her legs got tired that we were allowed to head back home. During the test ride, we quickly realised that the Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike is more than just a toy. Rather, it’s a fully functional vehicle that allows children to explore their environment and improve their motor skills in a playful manner. It combines fun and adventure with the development of balance and coordination: jackpot! The Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero is a recommended companion for young off-road explorers like Lotti and Joschi, who want to do everything their parents do.
Adventure without limits – who is the Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike for?
The Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike doesn’t just introduce kids to trail riding, but also allows them to explore the outdoors. While doing so, it allows parents to ride small trails together with their kids. It can expand your family’s horizons as your kids are no longer limited to parks and paved terrain, but can also head further off the beaten track to explore the woods. Balance bikes generally help improve coordination and balance, which is especially important at a young age. While kids learn to push themselves forward on the bike, it also lets them get a feel for speed and balance, discovering the world in a completely new way. If you transfer that to off-road trails, it adds a whole other dimension to the learning process.
Of course, a normal balance bike that isn’t geared towards off-road performance can still have a similar effect. However, if you’re a parent who likes to ride mountain bikes, the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero balance bike allows you to introduce your child to the sport at an early age. The Kids Ride Shotgun balance bike is bound to produce the next generation of MTB pros.
Our conclusion on the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero off-road balance bike
The Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero off-road balance bike is a must-have for little trail riders who know no bounds, and for parents who want to introduce their children to trail riding as early as possible. It lets them explore the mountain biking world in a playful way, and thanks to the adaptable size concept, it can serve its purpose for a long time. So, dear moms and dads, grab your little explorers and take them outdoors with the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero balance bike.
- adaptable wheel size from 12 inch to 14 inch
- cool features like the integrated rotor guard
- off-road performance – yeah!
- brake kit can’t be purchased on it’s own currently
For more information, visit kidsrideshotgun.de.
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Words: Antonia Feder Photos: Peter Walker