If you love mountain biking and your child has taken interest in it as well then maybe now is the right time for them to get their own bike. You don’t need to buy the most expensive mountain bike for your child. However, your kid needs to have a bike that functions well, is lightweight, and fits them properly.
Kids mountain bikes vary in price. You can get a cheap mountain bike for $100 or get a $1000 downhill bike. Of course, a $100 kid’s mountain bike will not suffice if he or she decides to go trail riding. That is why it is important to know what type of riding your child plans to do.
Best Kid’s Mountain Bikes:
- Raleigh Eva 24
- Diamondback Cobra 24 Youth Mountain Bike
- Mongoose Cipher Kids Mountain Bike
- Mongoose Switchback Kids
- RALEIGH Bikes Rowdy
Buyer’s Guide for Kid’s Mountain Bikes
Components – Bike parts are interchangeable. However, since kids’ bikes are smaller it will be harder for you to upgrade since there aren’t many high-end aftermarket parts. One example is the size of the wheel, you will not find many high-end 20’’ and 24’’ wheels. You also need to take note that 20’’ bike wheels typically fit 6-8-year-old, while 24’’ wheels fit 9-11 years-old.
When looking for components here are some familiar brands that you need to look for SRAM, Shimano, and Tektro. Also, disc brakes are more preferred in today’s mountain bike standard.
Suspension Forks – Even though your $100 mountain bike has suspensions, you should not use it for real trails. You can still use it for casual riding and basic dirt trails. Also, these suspensions are heavy and will add unnecessary weight to the bike. When buying kids’ mountain bikes make sure to check if the suspension fork can handle the trails.
Size – You need to measure your child’s height before buying a bike. One way to know if the bike fits them is if they can stand over the bike without hitting the frame. You will find 20” and 24” bikes in almost every bike shop.
Weight – the lighter the bike the better, but it comes with a steep price. Look for a bike that weighs between 20 and 30 lbs.
Cost – My rule when buying a bike is don’t overspend but never opt for the cheapest product available. A mid-range bike priced around $300-$400 are durable enough to last for years. You can increase your budget and get a more solid component from more trusted brands.
Gears and Drivetrain – For a kids’ bike the ideal gear is between 6 to 8. Many will say that the more gears the better. However, this is not the case for a kids’ mountain bike. The reasoning behind this is having more gears will be challenging for kids to use.
I suggest getting a 1x drivetrain. This is a simple setup that most kids will love. Also, check if the rear derailleur has a short cage. You need this feature if your child rides a more technical terrain.
With the shifter, a trigger shifter is better than a grip shifter. Trigger shifters are easier for kids with small hands and it responds quicker compared to the grip shifter.
Brakes – You have three options to choose from when it comes to any mountain bike. The first one is the V-Brake which is the cheapest option and is found in almost every entry-level bike. Next is the Mechanical Disc Brakes which have a better stopping power compared to the V-Brake system. Lastly, the Hydraulic Disc Brake is the most expensive of the three options. Hydraulic Brakes are usually found in top-of-the-line kids’ bikes because it has superior stopping power.
Riding Style and Usage – How your child plans to use the bike will be one of the determining factors on what bike they need. If your kids want to ride on trails and some up-and-down terrain then you should look for something with good suspension. If they plan to use it on an easy track then a single speed will be fine.
Best Kids Mountain Bikes
Here are some of the bikes that I would recommend for kids who want to try mountain biking for the first time.
Raleigh Eva 24
The Raleigh EVA 24 is a 24” bike designed for young girls ages 8 to 12. It has an aluminum frame and the suspension is an SR Sun tour XCT 50mm travel fork. It has a Shimano Revo 7 speed shifters and Shimano 1×7 gears. The brakes are mechanical disc brakes enough for control and stopping power. The total bike is also lightweight as it only weighs around 27.8 lbs.
Diamondback Cobra 24 Youth Mountain Bike
The Diamondback Cobra 24 is a 24” bike with HL Zoom 40mm travel fork. The drivetrain is a 21-speed Shimano Tourney 3×7. The bike is ideal for kids aged between 8-12 years old. The frame is made out of durable steel and the brakes are linear pull V brakes.
Mongoose Cipher Kids Mountain Bike
The Mongoose Cipher is designed for kids with a height of 4’ to 5’ tall. The bike has a Lightweight Mongoose Tectonic T1 aluminum frame and a rigid aluminum fork. The brake is a Nexus Inter3 V brake with a 7-speed rear derailleur. The wheel size is 20-inch Kenda tires and the rims are single-wall aluminum rims from Xposure XP-163. This entry-level bike is perfect for kids who want to go faster on the tracks.
Mongoose Switchback Kids
The Mongoose Switchback is a 20-inch wheel bike suitable for kids 4 to 5 feet tall. The frame is a Tectonic t1 aluminum frame with Xposure 60 mm travel fork. It has an 8-speed drivetrain and Mongoose mechanical disc brakes which delivers superior stopping power. The bike weighs around 32 lbs.
RALEIGH Bikes Rowdy
The Raleigh Rowdy is a great lightweight bike for kids who wants to explore the outdoors. It has an aluminum frame, responsive V-brakes, and a Shimano shifter. The Rowdy uses a rigid fork which helps the weight down. You can get the Rowdy in 20” and 24” sizes. The total weight is around 21lbs.