Shotgun Dirt Hero Balance Bike – first look!
The Dirt Hero is the new off-road balance bike from Kids Ride Shotgun. It's designed for MTB kids between 2 and 5 years old and can be converted from 12 inch to 14 inch wheels.
Disclosure: This article is being sponsored by Kids Ride Shotgun, and they provided us with the bike featured.
Shotgun Dirt Hero Off-Road Balance Bike - 12 inch and 14 inch
Bike model: Shotgun Dirt Hero 12 inch balance bike
Child age: 2-3 years
Inside Leg: minimum 337mm
Weight: 4kg (4.4kg with brake)
Cost (without brake): £290.00
Bike model: Shotgun Dirt Hero 14 inch balance bike
Child age: 3-5 years
Inside Leg: minimum 367mm
Weight: 4.2kg (4.6kg with brake)
Cost (no brake): £300.00
What is the Dirt Hero balance bike?
The Dirt Hero is the new balance bike from Kids Ride Shotgun - who are experts at getting kids onto bikes from an early age.
Their marketing blurb says: "The Dirt Hero off-road balance bike is a scaled-down enduro machine, designed specifically for MTB kids who want to get off the driveway and onto the dirt."
A casual glance may give the impression that this is simply another balance bike in a crowded market, but think again!
While there are many many balance bike options (including some fancy carbon bikes at eye-watering prices), the Dirt Hero is one of the first to specifically bring so much from the Enduro mountain biking world and apply it to a balance bike.
While many balance bikes are great, they tend to be designed for smooth surfaces and nip around pavements, parks and other urban infrastructure.
But what if your child dreams of getting their wheel dirty when they are drawn to the muddy tracks and trails that disappear into the trails?
They could wait until they're older, or maybe they just need a bike that can satisfy their curiosity.
The Dirt Hero is borne from passionate parents and mountain bikers who didn't want to compromise on their kids' bikes.
If you want to get your little riders off-road as soon as possible, the Shotgun Dirt Hero could well be the answer.
Kids Ride Shotgun
New Zealand based Shotgun are best known for their range of kids front bike seats, which allow you to bring your little one along for a bikes ride.
They also make other accessories to make your life easier, particularly the tow rope which I have used to good effect, taking the edge of the climbs for junior riders whilst giving you an additional workout!
It was therefore inevitable that at some stage their thoughts would turn to creating their own bike, and the Dirt Hero is the long awaited result.
Its development has been well documented on their YouTube channel and conveys their attention to detail and passion for getting it right.
If we keep things simple, we have a 12-inch balance bike which is convertible to 14-inch wheels (available separately). This in itself is great, as it allows for a larger range of growth in one bike.
The bike is designed as a mountain bike, its components and geometry are all borrowed from the off-road world.
The tyres are big and chunky, offering comfort and traction when things get rough.
The geometry means the bike is longer, lower and slacker than other balance bikes, which means more stability and confidence off-road.
It has footrests for when their confidence grows and an optional hydraulic disc brake specifically for small hands and ease of use.
It weighs in at 4kg for the 12-inch wheel bike or 4.2kg with 14-inch wheels.
The brake adds another 200g to the mix. With two wheel sizes, the Dirt Hero will work around the age ranges of 2-5 years old with a minimum suggested inseam of 337mm in the smallest setting.
Oh, and it comes with 3 'skins' to choose from.
These are clear plastic stickers that attach to the top tube of the bike to add a bit of colour and flair, giving your rider some choice!
Let's get technical (or skip this section if you’re not into your bike specs)
So Enduro mountain bikes are designed to be the ultimate all-rounders. Capable of huge climbs, but ready to race on downhill stages of the utmost difficulty.
Over the past decade, the boom in enduro racing has pushed mountain bike development to create some exceptional bikes.
This development has come about through progressing geometry to make bikes longer, lower and slacker than ever before, making bikes more stable and better equipped to ride extreme terrain.
Suspension is lighter and stiffer than ever before and the ubiquitous dropper seat post has opened up possibilities like never before.
But what does that mean for a kids' bike?
Well, more than you would perhaps expect.
Let's start with the head angle which on the Dirt Hero sits at 66 degrees.
Perhaps not at the extreme of slackness we get on adult enduro bikes, but certainly, the slackest balance bike I've seen or have found on the internet.
This means that the Dirt Hero is well placed for rolling over obstacles on the trail or bumping up kerbs.
There is less chance of the wheel being deflected by obstacles and offers more confidence to the rider.
In addition to slackness, the Dirt Hero is also longer!
Longer than most balance bikes which will add stability and give further confidence to plough through the rough stuff.
Maybe it might make tight turns harder, but the bike is still tiny and I doubt this will be a downside.
This length is then related to the stem, which is super short to balance the whole thing out and provide responsive steering
To finish the enduro triple, the bike is also low with plenty of bottom bracket drop (not that it has a bottom bracket)! which makes little difference when sat down.
But if your little rider gets their feet up on the rests, then the low-slung frame will again help to keep them trucking off-road.
To keep up with the current trends in mountain bikes, the Dirt Hero is available with two wheel sizes, either 12 or 14 inches.
This has the advantage of covering a larger size range, but also opens up the possibility of building it up as a mullet!
What is a mullet you might ask?
Well, essentially this is a mixed-wheel size bike, popular in Enduro and Downhill which has a 29er wheel up front and a 27.5-inch wheel out back.
You can have the advantages of the larger wheel to roll over obstacles and the smaller wheel keeps the back end shorter. Also, it's cool. let's not forget that.
Wheels can be swapped by changing dropouts in the front and rear. These neat additions simply bolt onto the fort to allow enough clearance for the bigger wheel.
At the rear, the dropouts (and integrated brake mount) can be swapped which for the 14-inch version to move up a wheel size.
Going with the wheels are the tyres, produced by Vee Tire, these look the business and will no doubt deliver as Vee are a proven brand in the mtb world.
These large-volume tyres aim to give plenty of grip and will be a great substitute for suspension, which is probably a bit much for a balance bike... maybe...
The final piece of the puzzle is the Magura hydraulic disc brake. This allows one-finger braking right from the start of their cycling career and is a great habit to get into.
The brake is hugely powerful and will allow riders to develop some sensitivity in their braking... maybe.
Or more likely make them great at skids... we will see!
The disc has the addition of a cover to protect inquisitive fingers from getting in the gaps.
Other great bits of tech borrowed from the mountain bike world include bolt-through axles front and rear integrated headset.
Who is this for?
The Dirt Hero is firmly targeted at mountain biking parents who understand what good geometry and components mean to the off-road riding experience.
Perhaps the Dirt Hero could be ideal for a younger sibling whose family already ride off-road and they want to come along!
This is a serious piece of kit, and perhaps not a knee-jerk purchase, but in the right hands, this could offer a world of possibility for a young rider.
Final thoughts on the Shotgun Dirt Hero Balance Bike
This is the most 'mountain-bikey' balance bike I have ever got hold of.
It truly looks and feels like a mini enduro bike and I love that, but then I'm a mountain biking parent, these things matter to me.
Such a lot of thought has gone into this bike, if it lives up to my (and our testers) expectations it's going to be a phenomenal ride.
We've been out on the trails on the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero and our 5-year-old tester LOVED it- read our rider review HERE.
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