Most people, upon first seeing the DTV Shredder, are prone to label it as some sort of "off-road Segway," but that notion falls well short of the mark. It's perhaps best described as the product of an angry, explosive romantic interlude between a stand-up jet ski and an M1 Abrams tank. If you ask BPG Werks co-founder and CEO Ben Gulak, he'll tell you that the Shredder is actually the foundation of the world's next great extreme sport. It's the platform upon which the next class of Red Bull-shucking extremophile athletes will build their careers.
The Shredder is unlike anything else on the planet, and before I delve into my riding impressions of the thing -- and indeed my falling impressions -- let's take a moment to take a look beneath that massive skateboard-style deck and figure out what makes it go.
The most obvious feature of the DTV Shredder is its pair of tank treads. In fact, that's what DTV stands for: Dual-Tracked Vehicle. The rubber tracks are driven by a petite 200cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine that puts down somewhere around 14 horsepower.
That power, which I admit sounds modest but is actually plenty, is split by a pair of continuously variable transmissions, distributing power between the left and right tracks depending on the angle of lean of the big skate deck upon which you stand.
This, you see, is how you turn the thing. Shift your body to the left, tilting the skate deck, and the right tread accelerates, turning the contraption to the left. Additionally, a pair of disc brakes allows tighter turns.
A simple thumb throttle manages power, while both electric and pull starters are onboard to get the lump fired. Gas goes in a tank situated beneath the handlebars, exhaust vents through a petite muffler on the back and a collection of adjustable mountain bike shocks handles damping duties.
That all this is packaged so cleanly inside such a small thing, something you can stand upon, is quite impressive. This packaging gives the Shredder a very low center of gravity. This not only makes it more agile, it also means the Shredder will pop itself upright should you go tumbling off the thing, rather than toppling on top of you.
This, as it turns out, would be key.
Getting going on the Shredder is real easy: you just hop on and give the thumb-throttle a little goose. Turning, however, is a bit more complicated.
As I mentioned above, the CVTs shift power left to right. However, if there's no power to shift, no turning happens. So, it's a little like a snowmobile or watercraft in that regard: no throttle, no turn.
At speed this is very intuitive, especially if you're into one or more of the current crop of extreme sports that entail strapping a board of some sort to your feet. As a snowboarder, I felt right at home and, indeed, carving back and forth on the Shredder is easy and fun. At least, it is on smooth ground.
Things get more tricky when the going gets tough. While the Shredder does have some suspension, its travel is very limited. Your legs are the real shock absorbers here, and they will be put to the test. I clock about 100 miles of training every week on my race bicycle, yet I was completely winded and my legs were on fire after about 15 minutes of hustling the Shredder around. This, then, is good exercise.
Conquer your exhaustion and you quickly realize that the Shredder has an incredible amount of grip. It will scamper up near-vertical surfaces, vault over rocks and tree branches and scream through mud and puddles without losing a bit of steam. The real limitations here have more to do with you the rider than it the device.
Since the Shredder will go wherever you point it, the real task becomes just staying on the thing. The incredibly short wheelbase means that if you accelerate too hard without leaning forward it will pitch you off the back. Brake too hard and over the handlebars you go. Turn too hard and...well, you get the picture.
It's up to you to read the terrain and shift your body weight appropriately, else you'll be picking yourself up out of the mud, as I was left doing on a few occasions. The Shredder is deceptively easy to ride at low speeds, much simpler than a dirtbike. This means it's also easy to get in over your head should you get a bit too generous with that throttle.
But, ride within your abilities and the Shredder is a ton of fun. It's also, unexpectedly, just a little bit practical thanks to a little trailer hitch on the back. No, you won't be using it to move your fifth wheel around, but Gulak tells me of one ranch-owning Shredder rider who uses his to drag posts across his property out when fence repairs are needed. Utility is not the name of the game here, but extra functionality never hurts when deciding whether to pull the trigger and buy something like this.
The DTV Shredder is undergoing final EPA testing and should be available in the United States within the next few months. Final US pricing starts at around $5,000.
While it doesn't offer the outright speed of a dirtbike or snowmobile, its capabilities in all four seasons certainly make the Shredder an intriguing proposition. And to me as a snowboarder, the promise of carving through the field behind my house in July sounds pretty appealing, too.