I still can remember being about 3 years old and riding my Big Wheel down the street. For a 3-year-old kid, riding around on a big wheel is the equivalent of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Clearly I can picture the little mop-haired girls in my neighbourhood watching me tear by them on my big wheel, and I can only assume that they wanted to know more about me.
Fast forward to me, aged 10 years old. That’s when I remember being at our local mall and seeing something I’ll never forget. A dune buggy…but for kids! There it sat, with some ridiculous price tag that my allowance could never afford, gleaming red behind the glass. From that moment on, I did nothing but ask relatives and friends with money to buy me a dune buggy for my birthday. I can only imagine how annoying I was to the adults around me. But guess what? I eventually did get that kid’s dune buggy, greedy little beggar that I was.
Fast forward another 20-odd years. Here I am, about to present you with Beach Baby’s 2017 Kids Dune Buggy Buyer’s Guide.
I have to say, my mentality isn’t too far off from when I bought my first real legitimate adult dune buggy – I was thrilled!
The cool thing is, dune buggies for kids have progressed over the years, but that spirit of fun and freedom has stayed the same. Some of the models you’ll see in this article never would have been around 20 years ago, due to some leaps and bounds that dune buggy makers have made over the years.
On top of that, these dune buggies make my old childhood dune buggy,that I got when I was ten, look like Archie’s jalopy. Man, if I was a kid today, I would be super psyched if I ever got one of these things for my birthday. Holy jumpin!
Kids Dune Buggies – The Road To Freedom
I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that a dune buggy is basically freedom on four wheels. I’ve heard people talk about what it’s like to experience that liberating feeling of going anywhere, and often it applies to people who ride bikes, skateboards, surfboards, boogieboards – and dune buggies are certainly no exception.
With their wide bodies, large and rugged offroad tires, and open chassis, dune buggies are designed to take your kid anywhere they want to go. It’s so simple – you just jump in and you can go (almost) anywhere. When kids get a taste of that freedom, they’ll never forget it.
As a parent myself, I can say that buying your kid their first dune buggy is still a decision that needs to be carefully considered.
There are all types of dune buggies, with various sizes, colors, styles, speeds, etc. etc., and your child, obviously, has their own personality, and the two need to mesh.
For instance, if your child is like one of my boys, who has a LOT of energy, and isn’t the greatest listener when it comes to do’s and don’t’s, I had to take some extra time to decide which dune buggy would be right for him – if any.
What it boils down to is this – considering everything from the thrills, the potential risks, the cost – is it worth it to buy a kid’s dune buggy?
My opinion is YES, if you want to give your children an experience of a life time. Still, you’ll want to pay close attention to this buyer’s guide when making your decision, and that’s exactly why we put this guide together.
What about little kids? Go with electric kids dune buggies!
One thing to think about nowadays that wasn’t even possible 20 years ago, is buying an electric dune buggy for kids. The great thing about electric kids’ dune buggies is that they are perfect for younger kids, and much more like “toys” than their gas-powered counterparts.
We need to remember that a gas-powered dune buggy is essentially a small car, and it can go at a fair clip, whereas an electric kid’s dune buggy is designed to go generally slower. This is handy, because we don’t want our young children speeding around in these go kart-type vehicles that are used to race, and are practically cars in their own right.
As dune buggies have progressed over the years, there became a need for electric dune buggies for kids, and so here they are. That said, battery-powered machines can go pretty quick sometimes too. We will get more into what they’re all about shortly, but we wanted to mention that they are the best bet for little kids right off the top. Oh, and they are also proportionately cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts.
The Best Dune Buggy For 3-5 Year Old Kids
Power Wheels Camo Dune Racer 4 (Two-Seater)
First off, they’re not all pink. Anyway, not long ago, if you were looking for a high-quality dune buggy for your five-year-old, you’d most certainly come up empty. They just didn’t make them! Nowadays, if you have a child between the ages of 3 and 5, you can buy Fisher-Price’s Power Wheels Camo Dune Racer 4, which is made by a manufacturer who knows toy vehicles like no one else – Power Wheels. If you’re anything like me, you’ve owned some Power Wheels toys yourself (and maybe you still do). It’s a pretty big name in the toy car business (maybe the biggest?)
The Power Wheels Camo Dune Racer 4 is all about quality and safety, not to mention style. For an electric “toy” car, it comes in 7 cool colors, and all of them have pretty snazzy accents that not only kids love, but I must admit – I love! Safety wise, it has rear-wheel drive, and so it gets its power from the back, which is, of course, better when it comes to control. Also, the breaking system is excellent. Take your foot off the pedal, and the dune racer comes to a halt.
If you are going to buy your child a “toy car”, this vehicle will actually let them drive up to 5 mph, and experience that “freedom” feeling I mentioned before. Of course, this dune buggy doesn’t go fast enough that you can’t catch it, which is very important. Kids can even have a passenger along for the ride, and both of them can buckle up (albeit with velcro seat belts). Two of my sons use this vehicle, and they’ve both taken driving lessons from their 16-year-old cousin, who is 5’2” and fits into the passenger seat just fine.
One of the reasons I bought it for my sons, at age three and five, is that I had a feeling if they got used to the responsibility of driving early, it would actually help them learn some important values. I figured, if my sons could get the hang of this vehicle, they would have no problem passing a driving test when they’re 16. I’m happy to say that a year after buying the Camo Dune Racer 4, that both of my sons have shown signs of, well, being fairly responsible kids, when it comes to driving.
As far as it being a dune buggy, we always take it to the beach with us, and it’s definitely one of the more fun places to take the Camo Dune Racer 4. My kids have a blast driving up and down the wide-open beach. The biggest issue with this little racer is the turn-taking aspect. We have three kids (two boys, one girl), and there have been arguments over who gets to drive it. We did end up getting more than 1 dune buggy (hence I am writing this guide – we have several), and now there’s no more problems. However, if the kids don’t figure out how to share the Camo Dune Racer 4 beforehand, you could have a lot of yelling and screaming on your hands, unless your parenting skills are right on point.
Best Dune Buggy For 6-10 Year Olds
While the last dune buggy didn’t exactly look like your classic “buggy”, this one sure does – the Razor 1. Actually, maybe it’s more of a go-cart style. Not sure. In any case, if you have a child aged 6-10, who weighs less than 120 pounds, this is the buggy for you! My kids actually went crazy when this thing arrived at our house, and things really got out of control when they found out that only Sam (our 10-year-old girl) could drive it.
Another kid’s dune buggy of the electric variety, the Razor 1 can get up to 10 mph with its small, knobby tires. When it comes to thrills, this thing definitely has more of a wow-factor for kids, as it can pick up a bit of speed. You’ll definitely want your kid wearing a helmet with this one. That said, it’s a very safe ride, and comes fully equipped with numerous safety features, such as protective padding, a tubular steel frame, and, of course, a seat belt. You can also adjust the maximum speed of the Razor 1, by adjusting the throttle. A great feature, especially if you’re worried about the higher speed of 10 miles per hour this dune buggy can reach.
One thing I’ll say about the Razor 1, is that in my dune buggy “studies”, this little gem is quite popular. When I first tried to get it, I was reminded of the Cabbage Patch Kid fiasco in the 80’s ,when no one could get hold of one of those dolls, and parents would literally bodyslam other parents to the ground just to get one. It was crazy! Anyway, it took me a few tries to actually get one of these Razor 1’s, since they were always sold out. Finally, they were in stock once again on Amazon, and we ordered one, and received it at our home in short order.
Once again, I will mention the beach since this is, after all, a dune buggy. When we’re at the beach, and the sand isn’t too fluffy, this thing rides along quite nicely. The beach is actually a great place to use the Razor 1, as there can be hills, hard-packed sand, a little breeze, and plenty of straightaways! We usually go down the beach a distance to where there’s nothing but sea gulls and sandy hills. My kids can play there for hours with their dune buggies, loving every second of it!
Gas-Powered Dune Buggies For Older Kids
Now we’re really talking! For kids, the ultimate would seem to be getting themselves a gas-powered buggy, since they are not only more durable, but they’re overall faster and stronger. They can also drive on almost any type of terrain imaginable. I’ve seen teens even driving around with some of these on the road. I don’t endorse this, but I’ve seen it happen, and some of these buggies can appear to be fairly dangerous, but I think it has more to do with who is behind the wheel than anything else. When the time comes to upgrade to a gas-powered buggy, you should consider the following features:
When it comes to your typical kids dune buggy engine size, usually we’re talking about a 110cc single cylinder, four-stroke engine. This size of engine gives your kid between 80 and 110cc, which is enough to have some fun, but not enough to cause us parents undue stress. I would also say that if you’re worried about your child outgrowing their dune buggy a little too early for your liking, take a look at the engine size and maybe opt for something bigger and more powerful, like a 150cc or possibly even a kids dune buggy with 200cc.
Are there other engine sizes out there? You bet. With engines in the range of 163cc up to 250cc, these are usually a bit too much for kids to handle. That is, unless your kid is a competitive dune buggy racer who drives around on a track. In that case, the larger engine size is for you. If not, I’d say stick to 110 – 150cc models. Just for comparison’s sake, you should know that a kids dirt bike – entry level – has a 50cc motor, which makes sense because kids’ dirt bikes are often lighter than kids dune buggies, which have more hardware, and hence are heavier. That said, 50cc would not adequately power a heavier kid’s dune buggy.
The vast majority of kids’ dune buggies have either an automatic, or semi-manual 3-speed transmission, plus a reverse gear. As we adults know, driving a car with automatic transmission is usually much easier than going manual. In fact, most people can’t even drive stick shift anymore. Unless you’re prepping your kid for a driving stick, you may not want to go this route. Of course, part of the fun for a kid can involve playing with the stick shift to put it into gear, and hearing the engine rev up. Plus, driving is a bit more flexible this way. On the other hand, automatic transmission has a far easier learning curve to it, so it’s up to you!
Suspension & Brakes
A solid, sturdy frame and above average suspension are certainly must-haves when it comes to your child’s dune buggy. Generally speaking, front suspension in your average kids dune buggy will be of the arm-swing variety, with either arm-swing or oil-dumped shocks at the rear.
With regards to brakes, you will probably want to go for a model that has hydraulic disc brakes to allow for shorter stopping distances. Oh, and it will last longer too.
Naturally, as your kids grow up they are going to outgrow their first dune buggy, and will need something more powerful. There is no one dune buggy for all kids of all ages. You want your dune buggy to be age and size-appropriate, but still allow your child to get the most out of it. Once kids hit the age of 10, you’re going to be looking at the gas-powered models, of which there are many great ones. Often, they are double-seated, so your kids can bring a friend along for the ride if they want.
More Top Picks
Kids Dune Buggy Monster Moto MM-K80R
This dune buggy for kids by Monster Moto definitely comes highly recommended. A friend of mine bought this one for his kids. Just based on looks alone, I would say this is one of the cooler looking kids dune buggies on the market today.
After observing it for a while, I’ve reached the conclusion that this is nearly a perfect starter vehicle for younger kids. There are tons of safety features with this dune buggy, and they’ve paid attention to detail here, right down to having coloured pedals, so that kids can see that green means go and red means stop. Nice touch!
With a 79.5cc power plant, the Monster Moto MM-K80R has automatic transmission, and a low center of gravity that makes it perfect for taking corners. The tires on this machine are very rugged, and the buggy overall has a look to match. It has a protective roll bar, a secure seat belt, and a nice-sized bucket seat.
The Monster Moto can really pick up speed – going up to 18mph. This is why I wouldn’t recommend this for small kids. I barely let my daughter ride it as it is, unless I’m there watching her. This is one of those dune buggies you see teens riding around in, tearing up and down the streets. It can lend itself to hijinks if you aren’t paying attention, and I don’t really want my daughter tearing up and down the streets in this thing.
All that said, it is a great vehicle, and I’m glad I bought it. The hydraulic brakes are great, and it has a heavy duty 79cc engine with a durable frame. This is definitely a dune buggy to consider if your kids are serious about having one. Just make sure they can handle all 18 mph of this beast.
Razor Ground Force Drifter Kart
This is more of a go-kart than a buggy, but it is quite popular, and I have had my eye on it for a while. The Razor Ground Force looks like a real low rider, and customers are saying that it doesn’t do well on anything but flat surfaces. This is understandable, as it doesn’t really have the tires for things like sand or grass. That said, customers have reported that it can go on these surfaces, once it builds up speed.
With a 12 mph maximum speed, there are faster kids vehicles out there, but this one does have “fun” written all over it. It definitely looks more like a racing cart than anything else. If I ever get my hands on one of these, I will write more. But, for now, all I can say is that it looks pretty cool!
With 166cc of power, this is really quite the machine! The manufacturers of this gokart call it “fully loaded”, and we can see why. The Trailmaster here has some features that the other kids vehicles we’ve mentioned so far do not have, such as a horn you can actually honk, and a remote control system, which is probably the best feature since it allows you to be in control of the vehicle, just in case your kids are heading straight for an obstruction – you just turn it off and it stops.
With arm-swing suspension on both front and rear, and hydraulic, oil-dumped brakes, the TM1-MINI-XRX also has an engine flame-out switch to make this little dune buggy a safer ride for everyone. The maximum speed here is 12.5 mph, so it’s fast, but not too fast. This model is actually much more expensive than most of the others, but, the more I read about it, the more I can see it has a ton of extra features, that many of the others don’t possess.
Spider K28A High End 150cc Go Kart
Ok, here we have a vehicle that looks almost like it’s for adults – the Spider K28A. It’s referred to as a dune buggy go kart, and that’s exactly what it looks like. Personally, I can’t speak to this one, because the price is a little out of my league, but it looks like customers are enjoying it.
The Spider here looks to be the real deal, when it comes to off-roading, and, to be honest, I wouldn’t let my kids drive around in this until they’re in their later teens, but that’s just me. I still thought I’d add it because kids do use it, and it looks damn impressive, to say the least! It can apparently handle some very heavy weight, and the vehicle itself weighs in at 200 pounds. This sucker is big!
According to the manufacturer, here are the stats of this machine, and there are many…hence the giant price tag!
Model KD-150GKA-2 Displacement (cc) 150 Seat 2 Engine Type single cylinder, 4-stroke, air cooled Transmission automatic with reverse Drive chain drive, rear-wheel drive Ignition Type CDI Start electric Brakes (F/R) hydraulic disks Rated Power (hp/rpm) 8.7/7000 Max Torque (lbs-ft/rpm) 6.6/5500 Max Speed (mph) 38 Speed Govenor no Remote Kill no Wheelbase (inch) 74.2 Track (F/R, inch) 51.6/37.8 Battery 12V, 9Ah G.W./N.W. (lbs) 723.1/496 Weight Capacity (lbs) 353 Type of Gasoline Unleaded No. 90 or higher Gas Tank Capacity (gallon) 1.6 Tire Size (F/R) 21×7-10/22×11-10 Dimensions (LxWxH, inch) 96.5×59.4×62.2 Carton Dimensions (LxWxH, inch) 91.3×57.5×33.7
We sincerely hope this kids dune buggy buyer’s guide helped out – Thanks for reading!