Is this the most pimped-out balance bike on the market? While it’s not made from carbon fibre like the $1,500 Specialized Hotwalk Carbon, the thru-axles, Magura brakes, and frame that accepts multiple wheel sizes make it pretty darn close.
The Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero balance bike is the first from the Kiwi outfit, and it’s definitely made a splash, not only with the parts list but also $540-730 AUD price tag, depending on the spec.
KRS is best known for its shotgun seats, which mount your little one between you and your cockpit. They have a front seat for all the action, and hang onto your handlebars. The launch of a balance bike creates a full pathway for your kids to get into mountain bikes, starting with a book, into the shotgun seats and then their own bike.
Made with an aluminium frame, the bike can accept 12in and 14in wheels, meaning the Dirt Hero can grow as your little one does and hopefully last twice as long — the second set of wheels is sold separately, costing $239.95 AUD for the 12in, and $259.95 AUD for the 14in. KRS says it should fit riders from two to five years old.
Each rolls on air-filled Vee Tyre Co Crown Gem tyres. These use the same tread pattern and MPC compound found on the 29 x 2.3in version and are well and truly ready to go beyond the pavement.
The Dirt Hero is also available with a Magura MT4 2-pot rear brake paired with a 140mm rotor. KRS opted for Magura brakes for their power, but also, the HC1 lever has a mile of reach adjustment, meaning the blade can be positioned right where tiny fingers can get to it. On the inner spokes of the rotor itself, KRS has added a nifty rotor guard to prevent said little fingers from ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time — and thus, many tears.
Using a semi-integrated headset with sealed cartridge bearings, KRS has spec’d a 450mm alloy bar and a four-bolt stem, also made of aluminium. The touch points also come from the Kiwi outfit with 19mm rubber grips and a saddle designed for little bums, and a removable standing platform, which can be added once your mini shredder gains the balance and coordination to get into the attack position and shred the pump track or singletrack.
KRS claims the bike weighs 4kg with 12in wheels and no brake, and jumps to 4.6kg when you up the wheels to 14in and add the brake.
As far as balance bikes go, we can’t think of many that are cooler than the Kids Ride Shotgun Hero, and there is not a mini-shredder on the planet who would not enjoy shuffling around on this well-equipped ride. But it does beg the question, how many of the features are for the kid, and how many are really for the parents to gloat about to rival parents at the trailhead? With that said, this also isn’t a plastic toy from K-Mart, nor is it an item ordered straight from a manufacturer’s catalogue. What KRS has designed in the frame and the parts attached to it is a tiny little mountain bike, and a platform for your mini-shredder to learn the fundamentals.
There is no beating around the bush, this is an expensive balance bike, but ultimately, the value of a product is what the end user is going to get out of it. With the built-in adjustability, it’s going to last for a while, and short of flat tires, nothing on this bike is going to fail anytime soon, even if you have a pint-sized wrecking ball. It’s also not a big bike brand making a kids bike, this is a small company out of New Zealand that specialises gear to get you and your family out on the trails together — that last part has lots of value for us, and we think it’s pretty rad.