Taking up any biking activity at a young age is a good idea. Children who learn to ride a cycle early, tend to have good control over their body balance. They also improve their reflexes as they learn to be quick on their feet while riding a bike. Combine it with an accelerated development of motor functions. By the end you will be well-informed to make a decision regarding which is the best ride-on toy for your kid.
Moreover, if you’re going to teach your kid to ride a bike, it might as well be a mountain bike. They are great for fitness activities and help kids to explore their surroundings properly. However, mountain bikes have evolved a lot from their original model. We will help you to find the best kids mountain bikes.
These days, the mountain bike has too many variations and features that are hard to understand for an average person. At the same time it’s crucial when buying a bike for your kid that you get one that best suits them . Besides, there are also a couple of other factors that play a part in deciding what kind of mountain bike a kid should have.
As such, we have created a guide that will discuss various factors that one should take into account while buying a bike for their child, as well as a list of the 15 best mountain bikes for kids.
Factors to Consider While Purchasing The Best Kids Mountain Bikes 2021
1. The Right Size
Even if everything else is wrong with the mountain bike, you have to make sure that at the very least, the bike is of the right size. While everything else can be worked around, the size isn’t something that a rider can compromise with.
Plus, it’s always better to let your kid master a bike and then let them progress on to the next stage, instead of immediately handing them something that is bigger than them. As for the used bikes, you can always sell them or give them to another kid, maybe even your kids’ younger sibling.
It’s never fun for a kid to ride a bike when their feet can’t touch the ground while they are sitting, and the brakes too can’t be reached properly because your child’s body doesn’t let them reach that far. It becomes the perfect recipe for an accident. If your kid crashes too frequently while they are on the new bike, they will soon lose all determination that they had to master the art of riding a bike.
Broadly, the bikes can be divided into four categories according to size. For preschool kids, you can look into mountain bikes that are in the sub-16 inch wheel range. As for the kids who are at least 4 to 6 years old, they can handle a 16-inch wheel bike The ages of 6 to 10 are perfect for the 20-inch wheel size, depending on how much the kid has grown during this time. We can safely say a kid from 9 to 12 years old is capable of handling a 24-inch bike.
After that, it’s better to buy small adult mountain bikes for kids.
Weight has more of an impact on the fun and maneuvering of the bike on children than adults. Children are naturally lighter and weaker than adults. What is a 1 pound heavier for an adult can feel like 10 pounds for a kid. If you gift them a bike that they don’t cannot move or have to exert a huge force to move it every time, then they are going to get tired of it and give up learning to bike.
Similar to adults, the cranks for children should be about 20 percent of the inside of the leg length. Another often followed rule is tenth of overall height rule of thumb. In some cases, the second one does offer inaccurate measurements. This is because some people have inside leg measurements that are overall half of their height. However, overall, it is something that can be trusted.
For manufacturers, they seem to believe the only rule of thumb is to stick to whatever they believe to be the next size of bike on should be. Over long cranks look bad as they are inefficient for the effective handling of a mountain bike. They also have a history of grounding easily if the manufacturer doesn’t put the bracket higher. And the children do not need the bracket to be higher.
So, make sure to be careful while checking for the crank size on the bike.
4. Wheels and Brakes
For small riders, you don’t need to buy big wheels. You only end up scaling them down. We can’t deny that a larger wheel will have a better possibility of absorbing shocks and rolling over bumps, especially if you do plan on letting your kid on rougher terrain. However, it will also be heavier, weighing down the whole bike and steering it will be hard, especially for beginner bike riders.
It’s very likely the kids will have a harder time reaching the bar too, for the distance between the bottom bracket and front axle will increase, and the bottom bracket will naturally be placed higher. All these factors contribute to making a bike that’s a bit too large for the kid making it harder to control than a perfectly fitted one.
For brake levers, scaling down isn’t necessary for the most part. That’s because the alternative option of two fingers adult levers exists. However, it is imperative that they are also within reach of the bars, and the kids don’t have a hard time operating. You can check for an adjustment crew in this case. Make sure your kid’s little fingers on both hands is enough to operate the brakes.
The one measurement that can’t be scaled down for children’s mountain bike is the reach. Most children feel best when they can ride the bike in an upright position. For this, the bars have to be a little higher than an average adult bike and closer. This is why BMX bars are perfect for bikes with 20-inch wheels or the ones that are smaller than them.
6. Suspension Forks
For children, we would recommend going for air-spring forks. These suspension forks are light, and adjustments can be made in accordance with to the growing weight of the rider, as time passes by.
For coil forks, you’re going to need lightweight springs. Sticky forks might be too hard for children to handle, for they lack the mass that is needed to get the forks moving. However, it is better to opt for rigid forks then end up with bad quality suspension forks.
The Age Guide to Buying the Best Kids Mountain Bikes 2021
We have looked through several factors that should play into our decision while we are looking for mountain bikes for kids. However, things will be better understood if we tackle the bike situation from an age perspective too. Which is what we have covered in the next section.
1. For Pre School Kids
If you are searching for bikes for pre school kids, it is most definitely the first bike they will lay their hands on. It is safe to assume they have no previous experience with bike riding, let alone mountain bikes.
The set of wheels at this age is usually either a trike or push along. These are plastic that is prone to breaking, and friction bearings on them are too simple. They are more for a preparation for a kid to get on a proper mountain bike than it is actually suitable to ride the mountain terrain with these wheels.
If you get a decent metal trike, they are likely to last for a long period of time, and you might even get to hand them down to younger kids. For kids of this age, you must look for bikes where the rear wheels are wide-set to provide stability, and a front-wheel axle that you can proudly say is durable. If they have proper ball bearing, all the better.
Most children are capable of learning how to ride a two-wheeler by the time they turn 3, and by 5, you can be certain your kid will be capable of mastering it. If they learn how to at least balance and steer by the time they are 5, bike riding becomes much more fun and an easy sport.
One can use two methods to learn to do so. One is the common two-wheeled scooter, or you can opt for a hobbyhorse. You can add stabilisers to bike, and they will help your child with mobility if they don’t know how to balance. However, stabilisers aren’t helpful for children if you actually want them to learn how to ride the bike.
You can use a starter bike and turn it into a hobbyhorse by removing the pedals and lowering the height of the seat at a level so children find it easy to put their feet on the floor. Look for a gentle slope and let them get on top of it. Now, have them coast down towards you at a gentle and slow pace. Once they get the hang of it, you can attach the pedals back again and coast towards you again, only with the bike properly fitted.
It is best for the first bikes to stick to 12 to 14-inch wheels. The standover height should be low, and it is best if it has ball bearings in the hubs, the bottom bracket, and headset. The cranks should be around 90 mm to 100 mm. The tires should be pneumatic, and at least one brake should work on the bike.
2. The Bikes For Age Four To Six
There are bikes out there with 16-inch wheel and still have training wheels. Do not go for those, and if you do, you can remove the training wheels. For all 16-inch wheel bikes, the gear is always single speed. This is because the chainstays aren’t long enough for derailleur gears, and at this age, different gear options only help to confuse the kids.
Of course, a three speed gear hub is always nice but they are too expensive, and so manufacturers don’t make them. The children don’t travel far at this age anyway, so they should be fine with single-speed ones.
The overall weight of the bike should be low to make maneuvering easier. Let’s do away with suspensions and steel frames that are flat. The thin steel tube frame should be good enough. The bottom bracket should be lower to allow your child to put their feet down from the saddle. As they have better control of riding now, you will have to be raising the saddle too.
Keep the cranks from 100 mm to 120 mm range with more preference towards the lower 100 range. Look for chain guards as they will help you keep the clothing or a finger from catching into the drive train.
Children know how to hurtle through the bike at this age, so a bike that can be easily operated is a must. A v-brake or a side pull is fine on the front, but it’s no good for rear brakes. As the cable line is long, it produces less friction, which makes it hard for children to pull. The best option would be to go for a back pedal coaster bike.
3. The Bikes For Age Six To Nine
For 20-inch wheel bikes, gears are the obvious extra addition. If you can get a three speed hub gear, there is nothing more ideal than that. Kids can get a good grip on it easily, and the gears don’t break easily. But, as we mentioned before since it is expensive, most people settle for five- and six-speed derailleurs.
If it’s just limited to a certain area, you can still fit in single-speed. They are lighter than any other gears, simple and rarely seem to have any problems associated with it.
There are some 20-inch wheel bikes that you will find have suspension forks on them. They are usually on the basic side, and the springs are adjustable. Nevertheless, they are liked by children. They do have some disadvantages associated with them. For starters, more weight is added, and the money you could have spent anywhere else on the bike is forced to be spent on the bike because of the manufacturer’s decision. The front suspension might be good on those, but the rear suspension rarely is.
If there is a rear derailleur on the bike, you will have to get a derailleur guard too for when the bike is lying on its side. It comes with a kickstand, even better. Kids these age rarely take into consideration that propping the bikes up is a viable option.
For the shifters, look for the ones that are easy to operate. The cranks are again elongated. You still want to stick to 120 mm to 130 mm range. At most, you can opt for 140 mm one.
4. The Bikes For Age Nine To Twelve
It’s time to spend a little more on bikes, providing that they are investments that can be passed on to younger siblings. A lightweight aluminum frame mountain bike should be the perfect option. Alternatively, we will love to see your kid with a wheel of 24-inch and a single chainring. If we could get a wide range eight-speed hub, even better. However, those are too expensive.
A seven-speed hub with screw-on freewheel isn’t bad either. Especially if it has a triple chainset on the front. If the chainset is double, try to look for one with a smaller inner ring and not one with a large outer.
At the same price, the specs for this should be comparable to that of an adult bike. An alloy seat-post that your child can adjust to fit his or her height, a bottom bracket made of cartridge, a riser bar, a good set of wheels and branded v brakes should be there from the start. For mountain bikes, off road tyres should excite your kids.
Don’t go looking for disc brakes. Instead, check for disc mounts so you can upgrade it later. The suspension fork should be adjustable and damping, but don’t choose full suspension. The cranks get longer with these bikes and push up to 140 mm or 150 mm. You might even get a 160 mm one.
5. The Bike For The Big Kids
If your kid is over 12 or even some cases if they are young but on the tall side, they are most certainly ready for small framed bikes that are actually for adults. The frame size is shortened down to 14 inch or 15 inch. Some even have it at 13 inch. If your kid is a bit of an expert at mountain biking by this age due to the time they have spent doing it as a kid, they might prefer the one with the smallest frame so they can get a satisfactory level of clearance with the top tube.
Most teenagers would be satisfied at 15 inch though.
This in no way means you should put your 10 year old on an adult mountain bike because they are capable of reaching the pedal. They will work much better on a bike with 24 inch wheel and with a frame within the 12 inch or 13 inch range. The bikes with 24 inch wheels are simply lighter and far more easier to control.
Imagine it for yourself. Would you want to deal with a bike that has 28 inch wheel instead of a 26 inch one? Don’t forget to look for the ones with cranks that are suitable for kids.
At teenage, children have to deal with peer pressure and will automatically have preference towards bikes that makes them look cool. The current trend seems to be a good work with the paint job and a dirt style frame.
Some More Things To Know
Things to note before you start to ride those bikes first. Before you get your kid on the mountain road, here are some tips you should apply.
1. The Preparation
Don’t put your kid on a rocky terrain from the start. Let them get use to the plain, smooth pavement around your house first. Once your child is comfortable handing the bike on a flat plain, you can take them to places with dirt trails with interesting topography.
We have said this again and again, but the bike size needs to be exactly right if you are going on the rough trails. The wrong size will not only lead them to have a harder time while learning the mountain bikes, they are also more prone to accidents.
Choose a short path that you think your kid will have exploring. Better yet, if you choose a path you are familiar with.
Don’t make the bike path too long. Start with short paths that doesn’t take too long to get a round of.
Again, the trail should fit the difficulty level your child is capable of handling. Don’t force them into something they can’t handle.
2. Look For A Bike Park
If you aren’t confident enough to leave them on a rough, rocky terrain, it’s better to start with bike parks. In a bike park, your kid can learn to explore different challenges and yet operate under the assurance that you are there as well the bike park is proofed enough to protect them from injuries.
A child can also go over a single obstacle over and over again until they are confident they can conquer it no matter how many times they try to tackle it. A couple of hours a week spent on the bike park should be enough to get your kid confident in their riding skills. Let your child set the practice goals by themselves and offer them support and encouragement when they need it.
3. The Risks
You will be surprised at how fearless kids generally are. The amount of challenges and obstacles they will go over in such a short amount of time will genuinely amaze you. The level of difficulty they phase also need to be amped up to build up on their confidence.
Offer them trails that has challenges that are a little beyond their level. Be their to coach them through the trail and if possible, offer them a demo on how to do it yourself. If they are hesitant about something, do not force it on them. Instead, you can try to break the options into simpler steps to make it more understandable and even perform it together with them.
The most important advice that we have to offer is this; make it fun. Don’t act like a coach or a trainer. Remember, you started teaching your kid mountain biking because its fun. If you take the fun element and turn it into competition, they will only be put off by it.
4. The Injuries
We all want our children to not get hurt to the best of our abilities. The primary reasons why we are looking for the best mountain bike for kids is this.
Bruises are inevitable though. If the trail you have chosen is for mountain biking and if you have a mountain bike, your kid is bound to come up with some bruises once in a while.
It’s not easy to see but we must understand that it’s fine for kids to get hurt a little. Injuries are a part of the growing up process and kids are way more resilient than us. Falling down will only make them determined to get back up faster.
Of course, that does not mean you grown completely slack. You should be ready with a first aid kit in case the injury is higher than you anticipated. You should also make them wear safety clothing to absorb as much of the shock as possible. Never let a child get on a mountain bike without a helmet.
1. Mongoose Exlipse Full Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike for Kids, Featuring 15-Inch/Small Steel Frame and 21-Speed Shimano Drivetrain with 24-Inch Wheels, Kickstand Included, Pink
This pink mountain bike comes with a 24 inch wheel and a steel frame which is lightweight and strong- just the way we like. The frame is about 15 inch making it perfect for 12 to 13 year olds. The rear derailleur is a 21 speed one with Shimano. The crank is a 3 piece one. On the front and rear, there are linear pull brakes and the wheels are made of alloy.
2. Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike, Featuring 17-Inch/Medium High-Tensile Steel Frame, 7-Speed Shimano Drivetrain, Mechanical Disc Brakes, and 26-Inch Wheels, Light Blue, Navy Blue, and Red
The 26 inch wheel mountain bike has large knobby tires which is ready to absorb any shock your kid might face on a mountain trail. The Shimano rear derailleur is of the seven speed range. They can go up and down a hill with absolute ease. The twist shifter makes the transition to switch to other gears easy, making it one of the best mountain bikes for kids.
3. Huffy Kids Bike for Boys
To get on this 20 inch wheel bike with full suspension and 6 speed gear, the children should be of at least on the 44 to 56 inches height range- the taller, the better. The bike is shipped with all the tools you will need to assemble it.
It comes with a quick release seat belt that can be adjusted to suit the height.
4. Guardian Kids Bikes Original. 16/20/24 Inch, Multiple Colors for Boys/Girls. Safer Brake System for Kids. Lightweight Aluminum Construction. Easy Assembly
This kid bike is only 21.5 lbs and has a 6 speed gear, lever that’s within good reach. It also has a kickstand, making it easier for the kids to put their bike anywhere. The brake system is patented by the company and has been dubbed the safest among bikes. We can call this one of the best mountain bikes for kids.
5. Diamondback Bicycles Cobra 20 Youth 20″ Wheel Mountain Bike, Orange
Equipped with a Shimano 6-speed drivetrain and a trigger shifter that makes shifting between gears easy, the bike can climb up the mountain range with high speed. The 40 mm travel fork absorbs all kinds of shocks from the rocks and rough patches on the road, making it comparable to that of an adult bike. The pull brakes are adjustabel and keeps the kids safe.
6. Schwinn Koen Boy’s Bike, Featuring SmartStart Frame to Fit Your Child’s Proportions
The durable steel frame blue colored bike has kid specific proportion that makes it easier to handle for kids. There is a rear coaster brake and a front caliper brake, guaranteeing a smooth transition for you kid to a more difficult brake system when they are older. The saddle is adjustable along with a slack seat-tube. We can count this as one of the best mountain bikes for kids.
7. Woom 4 Pedal Bike 20”, 8-speed, Ages 6 to 8 Years
The bike weighs about 16.9 lb and the design is best suited to kids on the 5 to 9 age range. The 20 inch wheel bike has SRAM X4 8-speed shifters making riding the most fun thing in their life. The gear ratio will swoosh over any terrain, be it a steep clim upwards or a smooth decent.
8. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike
The Schwinn mountain frame of 12 inch bike has Schwinn suspension fork so that the ride on rough terrain can be controlled. The 21-speed rear derailleur shifts gears smoothly and swiftly. The front and rear liner alloy brakes assures us of secure stopping no matter what. The height of the seat post can be adjusted to fit that of the kid without using any tool.
9. Raleigh Bikes Rowdy 16 Kids Bike for Boys Youth 3-6 Years Old, Green
The bike is made of aluminum frame, offering lightweight durability and a 16 inch wheel bike making it perfect for young riders. The riders can be 3 to 6 year olds ideally. The alloy v brake and single speed allows riders to be in focus while riding. We can conclude this is one of the best mountain bike for kids.
10. 20″ Hyper Shocker Bike (Black, Shocker Bike)
11. 24″ Boy’s Roadmaster Granite Peak Boy’s Bike, R2469WMDS, Green
The 3 piece mountain crank and alloy wheel adds the durability we want to keep our kids safe on the trails. The 18 speed twister allows for smooth transition between gears. The front and rear alloy brakes allows stopping at unexpected times and suddenly.
12. Diamondback El Oso Nino Fat Bike 2017
The bike comes with a hi-ten steel frame and a fork for the durability you are seeking for your kid. The 20 inch wheel bike has 4.0 inch wide tires. The shimano 7 speed drivetrain allows for smooth transition of gears. The disk brake has 160 mm rotors. The bike is a blue and black, what one might call cool looking at first glance.
13. 24″ Roadmaster Granite Peak Boys’ Mountain Bike
The frame is steel mountain style along with a front suspension fork to allow a long, durable ride. The 18 speed twister allows smooth shifting and a wide gear range. There are linear brakes on the front and rear, leading to a smooth stoppage. The mountain crank is 3 pieces, meaning less maintenance for you.
14. Raleigh Bikes Lily 16 Kids Mountain Bike For Girls Youth 3-6 Years Old, Pink
Made with an aluminum frame, the bike is lightweight and perfect for kids on the 38 inches to 45 inches height range. The 16 inch wheel bike is for young riders with single speed so they don’t have to worry about shifting gears. The alloy v brakes allows control and an easy halt.
15. Tommaso Kid’s Ghost – 24″ Youth Cruiser Mountain Bike
The 24 inch tires are knobby and perfect for pavement, dirt trails or gravelly roads. The Shimano tourney grip gear is the one your kid needed to provide them the smooth transition between the speeds. This is at 21 speed, offering it great tackling power. We will consider it one of the best mountain bikes for kids.
Find The Best Kids Mountain Bikes Today!
We have learned of the various factors that should contribute to our decision when searching for a mountain bike for kids and we have prepared a list of the 15 best kids mountain bikes. All that is left for you to do is buy the mountain bike that will suit the age and size range for your kid and you can get started on the sweet journey.