Kids Ride Shotgun (KRS) has done it again. Not only do they have some of the best child bike seats and handlebars, but they just released their very first bike, the Dirt Hero Off-Road Balance Bike.
In a sea of balance bikes, the Dirt Hero stands out thanks to it’s two different wheel size options, and an optional Magura MT4 rear disc brake. According to Kids Ride Shotgun, “The Dirt Hero off-road bike is a scaled down enduro machine, designed specifically for mountain bike kids who want to get off the driveway and onto the dirt.”
The Dirt Hero is geared towards kids ages 2 – 5 years and because of the wheel size customization, it can be used for a wide range of heights.
We’ve been testing it out for a while now, and here are our thoughts.
Review in a Nutshell
- Easy to put together
- Different wheel size options that allow the bike to grow with your child
- Pneumatic air tires instead of hard plastic or rubber wheels offer traction and more confidence when riding
- Optional brake for safety and skill development
- It has mountain bike geometry and is trail ready
- Quality foot pegs
- No quick release seat collar
Price & Where To Buy:
- Buy at KidsRideShotgun.com*
Unboxing- Putting Together the Balance Bike
After receiving a few boxes from KRS, the Dirt Hero came together quickly. KRS included detailed instructions on how to assemble the bike and within 20 minutes, my son Finnley was ready to hit the singletrack. He absolutely loves cruising the dirt on our home trails.
The thing I loved about unboxing this bike was the fact that everything was included. I didn’t need any tools to put the bike together because KRS provided all of the necessary tools. The most complicated part of putting the Dirt Hero together was the rear disc brake, but even that was extremely straight forward.
KRS included tattoos and 3 different skins that you can put on the top tube of the bike. Right out of the box, you can tell this bike is extremely well-made. It will be something that will last my son many years until he is ready to make the transition to a pedal bike.
Weight And Build
The frame itself is comprised of an aluminum frame with a straight 1-1/8th headtube and aluminum fork and seatpost. The frame comes in one color, “arctic storm white” and it looks quite elegant.
The bike’s weight is listed as 4kg (8.8 lbs) with the 12 inch wheels and tops out at 4.6 kg (10 lbs) with the 14 inch wheels and brake added. This certainly isn’t the lightest balance bike around, but athletic kids should do well on it. (On the other hand if your child is more petite, we’d recommend a bike like the Woom 1 that weighs in over 2 pounds less).
Additional frame components are house branded. The custom handlebar, stem and headset all designed to fit children’s hands and positioning.
Customizable Options…At A Price
This balance bike comes with a few different purchasing options. You can choose the 12” wheel or the 14” wheel depending on your kiddo’s inseam.
If you choose to order both and make this essentially two bikes in one, you will have to pay for the additional wheel set* which costs about $150. Both wheel sizes have the same ever popular Vee Crown Gem tires.
Different wheel size options allow for the bike to grow with your kiddo and allow them more time on the balance bike to gain confidence and skill that will transfer seemingly to a pedal bike.
You have the option to include the Magura MT4 disc brake kit that will cost roughly $150 in addition to the frame.
If you decide to get both wheels, frame, and brake kit, you’re looking at spending about $600. That is quite the investment for a toddler’s balance bike, but if you think of the quality you’re getting with KRS, it makes the initial investment easier.
There aren’t many balance bikes with a disc brake. This really sets the Dirt Hero apart.
The optional disc brake adds a level of safety that most balance bikes don’t have and being able to practice braking helps to develop a useful skill that everyone needs. Additionally, the brake rotor itself is child safe. This is extremely important because I do not have to worry about my kiddo cutting his hand on the rotor. If you purchase the brake with the bike it is an additional $99, otherwise, the brake will cost $150 on it’s own.
KRS decided to use the Magura MT4 brakes with HC1 brake lever. The lever is extremely easy to squeeze and the distance from the lever to the grip is the perfect size for my 2-year old’s hand. If you have a kid on the smaller side, though, they might not be able to reach the lever.
I’m excited for him to learn how to apply the brake. I also like that he will learn how to use a brake so when he transitions to a pedal bike there won’t be a steep learning curve.
Tires That Can Go Anywhere
As you would expect from a bike that is marketed for mountain biking, the Dirt Hero comes with pneumatic air tires. Instead of hard plastic or rubber wheels on cheaper balance bikes like the Strider, pneumatic tires to ensure traction and comfort.
The tread on the tire provides way more traction than your average balance bike tires. This creates more confidence and makes it a great first bike for off-road use.
A Bike that Grows With Your Kiddo
My son is almost 3 years old and weighs about 35 pounds. He is 41” tall with a 14″ inseam and I put the 12” wheels on the bike. KRS recommends a minimum suggested inseam of 13.3” for the 12” wheels and a minimum suggested inseam of 14.4” for the 14” wheels.
The reason I put the 12” wheels on instead of the 14” wheels is because he is between the recommended sizes and my son’s riding style is extremely cautious. The nice thing about the Dirt Hero is, regardless of which size wheel you put on, the saddle will drop all the way down, so you don’t have to worry about the clearance of the saddle and tire.
After owning a basic Strider balance bike, I think purchasing the KRS Dirt Hero right out of the gate is the way to go for a mountain bike familiy. Not only are the components better quality, but the Dirt Hero also allows us to only purchase one bike frame until our son in ready for a 16” pedal bike. This bike will grow with my toddler over the next few years because of the ability to change the wheel size.
A Place For Little Feet
Often, bike companies don’t consider the need for foot pegs. Why wouldn’t they consider a place for children to rest their feet while balancing? This is the first step to learning to pedal!
Well, KRS designed a great solution! The foot rests are strategically placed under the seat tube which allows for your kiddo to stand on it in preparation for standing on the pedals. They are also removable and offer excellent grip.
Since the bike is designed for tackling tricky terrain, I also appreciate that the footrest is less obtrusive than the Woom Surfboard, for example.
Kids Ride Shotgun has released a series of jersey’s for smaller kiddo’s in conjunction with the Dirt Hero. It is tough to find quality cycling threads for small children so this is a great option.
The jersey is well-made. It is windproof and breathable for those hot days in the sun. It also has extra material in the back for more coverage.
The jersey comes in 3 different designs to choose from–all of which are adorable. It also came with Shred Til Bed tattoos (which my son loved the most).
The jersey has specific washing instructions. Just be mindful that it needs to be washed on cold and you should not put it in the dryer.
Kids Ride Shotgun Vs The Competition
There aren’t many balance bikes designed specifically for off road riding, so the Kids Ride Shotgun stands a bit alone in this arena. And it is the ONLY balance bike we know of with convertible wheel sizes, so if that’s important to you, this is your bike.
While they don’t have convertible wheel sizes, we’ve tested plenty of balance bikes over the years on dirt trails and pump tracks, and there are quite a few that perform well. These include the Woom 1, Prevelo Alpha Zero, Pello Ripple, and Early Rider Charger.
All of these bikes sell in the $200-$250 range which makes them quite a bit cheaper than the Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero. In fact, you could end up buying both the Woom 1 (12″ balance bike) AND Woom 1 Plus (14″ balance bike) for less than the KRS with both wheel sets and brake.
Of course, none of those bikes have a disc brake (though they do have quite capable v-brakes), and with the exception of the Early Rider Charger none have quite as beefy of tires.
There is one other balance bike we’ve tested with a disc brake: the Bentley balance bike. It’s even more expensive, and less well suited to off-road riding.
The Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero balance bike is in a category all of it’s own thanks to it’s off-road design, convertible wheel sizes, and optional disc brake. There’s really nothing else quite like it on the market.
That said, it’s also pricey. If you’re a mountain bike family that values all things bikes and plans to hit the singletrack hard, by all means go for it. This is one rad little bike.
More Reading To Help You Pick A Great Balance Bike
- 10 Best Balance Bikes For Your Toddler
- Everything You Need To Know About Balance Bikes
- Ultimate Guide To Kids Bike Sizes (And Bike Size Chart!)
About The Reviewers
Malorie Gage was the primary reviewer for this article, and her son was the tester photographed here. Malorie is an avid cyclist who has been mountain biking, road, gravel cycling for many years. She lives in Colorado where she’s raising two tiny humans and balancing biking and motherhood.
Blair Burton and Kristen Bonkoski also added feedback to this review, particularly with regard to the competitive comparison. Kristen and Blair are the founders of Rascal Rides, and have tested and reviewed dozens of balance bikes over the last ten years.