Kids Ride Shotgun aims to inspire the next generation of MTB rippers through its products. Alex Ballinger caught up with the brand to see what’s next.
This piece first appeared in the May edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
A lot has been written in this issue of the BikeBiz about how to kit out the next generation of bike riders, from improving bike geometry to road safety.
But for Kids Ride Shotgun, the journey for youngsters becoming riders can start before a child even steps onto their own bike.
The New Zealand-based brand, founded in 2017 by Tom Hayward and Dan Necklen, designs and manufactures MTB products for children up to five years – most notably a shotgun-style children’s seat that can offer a path-altering riding experience for youngsters.
“We’re focused solely on mountain bike families with kids between 0-5 years of age,” said co-owner Necklen.
“We want to help families ride together, and inspire kids to ride. We realise there are plenty of opportunities outside of that with older kids, but we’re committed to staying focused on those early years, because we think it sets kids up for a lifetime of enjoyment on bikes. We’re keen to raise mini mountain bikers, and then pass the baton to other mountain bike brands so to speak.”
Kids Ride Shotgun started out producing a frame-mounted seat, which the brand says offers numerous benefits over traditional rear-mounted child seats.
The Shotgun seat allows kids to partcipate in the ride, rather than sitting at the back staring at their parent’s back, is suitable for full suspension bikes, and features handy innovations like a quick release mechanism and full adjustability.
Necklen said: “We’re super lucky to have received mostly positive feedback from the industry – any doubts (particularly around the shotgun seat) tend to disappear once people try riding shotgun. The product facilitates an amazing experience which is hard to communicate, but it’s epic once you’ve tried it out.”
Necklen and Kids Ride Shotgun believe they’re “just getting started” with their mission to get kids stoked on riding, and the past year of development appears to be testament.
The brand recently stepped up its focus on the UK market by partnering with distributor Extra UK (and its subsidiary Cyclex in Ireland).
Kids Ride Shotgun has expanded its product lines to include other unique accessories targeted at families, including a kids’ book, a tow rope, and the newer Shotgun Pro seat.
The distribution move also coincides with the brand’s commitment to becoming more than just a child’s seat business, with its recent step into wheeled products – off-road balance bikes for the 2-5 years market.
On the move into balance bikes, Necklen said: “We’re obviously keen to provide families with all the tools they need to raise mountain bike kids from 0-5, and we see balance bikes as a critical step in that progression. There are plenty of great lightweight balance bikes on the market that are suitable for the pavement, but we noticed that most runner bikes aren’t designed for the dirt.
“The dirt hero is about unlocking the trails for mountain bike families, and by creating a bike that’s up for the task, we feel we’re giving parents and kids the best chance of having a great time, which will make them want to keep riding.”
The Dirt Hero balance bike is designed for children aged two to five and features a sealed headset, thru axles, removable footpad, and progressive geometry.
Equipped to take 12” or 14” Vee-Tire wrapped wheelsets, and with an optional Magura MT4 rear disc brake with rotor guard, Kids Ride Shotgun say the Dirt Hero is “no ordinary balance bike, it’s a down-scaled enduro machine”.
The bike effectively grows with the rider thanks to the replaceable drop-outs that extend the reach of the bike for the larger 14” wheel size. It can also run as a mullet. The bike weighs in at 4kg for the 12” unbraked version, and is priced at £290 – with the 14” wheel set and Magura MT4 brake as optional extras.
Kids Ride Shotgun is also committed to retail, both because it’s the brands’ biggest sales channel, and also because the founders believe families will choose bike shops to help make informed purchases.
Necklen said: “What makes us unique in retail, is that we’re the only brand focused purely on 0-5, and providing parents with everything they need. Retail is our biggest sales channel, and we think that’s because many families still prefer to pop into their local bike shop. We’re stoked to now have Trev and Alex in our UK office, who are charged with supporting our UK and European distributor and retailer network.”
“We’ve noticed that retailers that do well in the kids category are those who have either have kids themselves, or have a long term view of the customer relationship – the lifetime value of a family customer and their kids is considerable when you look at the different bikes, parts and accessories needed over time.”
On the overall aims for Kids Ride Shotgun, Necklen said: “We’re on a mission to raise the next generation of mountain bikers, and we feel like we’re just getting started. We have a couple of exciting products in development too, but outside of that – we have plenty of work to do with our existing network of retailers and their customers.
“We’re keen to create a mini mountain biker movement, and we have a bunch of crazy ideas to help make that happen over time.”
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