The Ridgeback Dimension Runner is a premium balance bike with lightweight credentials to help get your little one off to a great cycling start. However, as the same price as the Isla Rothan, it's up against some incredibly strong competition, and it needs a few design tweaks to be equal to it. That said, it comes in two sizes and even the 12" wheel size fitted my three-year-old, so the best investment for taller kids who aren't quite ready for peddling yet.
Lightweight alloy (6061)
Multi terrain tyres
Two sizes (12" and 14" wheels)
Quick release seat clamp
Good for tall kids
Saddle handle uncomfortable to use
Lacks same finesse as the same priced Isla Rothan
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If you've been around the cycling scene a while then the brand Ridgeback will probably take your mind back to the early 1980's with the advent of the first British mountain bike. It was a cycling revolution and a Ridgeback of some sort was probably on most Christmas lists up to the end of the decade, and probably is once again thanks to the resurgence in the retro mountain bike scene.
It's a brand that has always been ticking along in the background, but with the launch of its performance road bikes in 2015 its been slowly growing more and more in the road riding arena, and this year launched its first premium balance bike, the Ridgeback Dimension Runner.
>>> Buy the Ridgeback Dimension Runner now from Evans for £149.99 (opens in new tab)
As already alluded too, the Ridgeback Dimension Runner is referred to as it's premium kids balance bike, this is all down to the materials chosen for the frame's construction - 6061 Aluminium. Known for its strength and light weight properties, the a 6061 choice has enabled the creation of the gentle swoop in the top tube as the alloy is also easily worked. This has allowed Ridgeback to deliver decent riding geometry for such a small bike without the creation of significant tubing sizes, welding or reinforcing.
Alloy has also been selected for the bars, stem, seat post and rear only brake, which all play a significant part in keeping the overall weight to a minimal 4.6kg (claimed). These also act as balance for the steel forks, which would have added a bit of ballast - but not, I suspect, significantly enough to warrant the additional cost of alloy over steel.
There are two sizes of the Ridgeback Dimension Runner, the standard Dimension Runner and the XL version. The main difference is top tube length, 330 verses 370 and the wheel size, either 12" or 14", the XL also comes with slightly wider handlebars (480mm compared to 460mm). On paper the 12" version is in the same size category as the Isla Rothan, but the bigger Schwalbe Big Apple 2" tyres actually put it more in a mid point between that an the Frog Tadpole Plus, with it's 14" wheels.
As with most balance bikes, the Ridgeback Dimension Runner comes with just one rear brake. The alloy V brake calliper is teamed with a plastic composite reach adjustable leaver, and internal cable routing.
Both sizes come with Ridgeback's own Junior saddle, with carry handle.
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We tested the standard sized Ridgeback Dimension Runner, and as mentioned above, the 12" wheels actually make the bike in between the Isla Rothan and Frog Tadpole Plus, allowing for my all ready balance bike confident three year old to happily hop on immediately and start dashing about all over the place, once I'd got the right saddle height - an easy enough task thanks to a helpful quick release seat clamp.
Although the materials are very similar to most other high end balance bikes, the Ridgeback Dimension Runner was noticeably lighter than the Frog Tadpole Plus, and ever so slightly heavier than the Isla Rothan. All are light weight in the scheme of things, but it was noticeable how my daughter was able to manoeuvre the bike easily to get it over obstacles, such as curbs without input from an adult.
Unlike the Frog and Isla bikes, there is no locking headset, which would normally limit the steering of the handle bars, preventing the front wheel rolling under itself. However, this, as yet, hasn't been an issue when out riding, and the junior mushroom grips do naturally stop the handle bars twisting any further than the saddle.
Talking of saddles, at just shy of 123mm at it's widest, the Ridgeback junior sat in between the Isla and Frog width wise. There wasn't as much leg interference as the Frog, at 136mm wide, but in an ideal world could be a tad slimmer. The carry handle aspect, however, was totally lost on me. It was too uncomfortable to carry the bike using it, it was sharp edged and hard plastic, which although unlikely to come in to contact with your small person in a crash, did leave me thinking the bike would be better off without it completely.
The design and lightweight aspect of the Ridgeback Dimension Runner does leave you under no illusion that this is a premium brand. Even though it's a kids balance bike, Ridgeback has paid attention to the overall aesthetics and lightweight design.
At the same price than the Isla Rothan, the Ridgeback Dimension Runner is up against very strong competition, and it's not quite as on point, with small details such as the plastic brake leaver, and saddle letting it down slightly. That said, the quick release seat clamp, and 2" tyres made it a really good option for my ever growing thee year old who is not as happy with 14" wheels or quite ready for a pedal bike just yet.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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