Kid's Mountain Bike: 11 Things You Must Know!

By Eric Awwy, 04 Jan 2020

Congratulations, your son or daughter has now graduated from balance bikes. What’s next? When doing family cycling, you just realized that your kid has now developed some love for off-road biking. Snap! It is now time to get them something to whet their appetite for riding. Potentially, a kid’s mountain bike will be the best decision.

If you were just about to buy a mountain bike for your kid, you need to read through this post. We look at some of the factors to look for when buying a mountain bike for the kids. We aim to make you have value for your money as your kids get fitter.

This article covers, sizing guide for kid’s mountain bikes, the potential budget, suspension, gears, brakes, components, suspensions, shifter, droppers, and other pieces of advice. We understand that kids mountain biking comes with thrill. So we get you the right information. You already are a busy parent, and with this information, you will be a mountain biking savvy parent.

Sizing Guide for Mountain Bikes for Kids

Just like any other type of bike, kid’s mountain bikes are not one-size-fits-all.  One of the major variables when looking for a mountain bike for your kid is the size. A proper mountain bike-fit for your kid means safety, fun, and easy use.

Parents always have the temptation of buying a kid a bike that they will grow into. Here is where some of us blunder. If the kid cannot handle the bike with ease, you have no reason to buy it. How do you measure the right mountain bike size for your kid?

To begin with, age has nothing to do with the size of a kids bike neither does the height. Mostly, kid’s bikes are categorized by the tire size 12”, 16”, 20”, and 24” tires. However, it is always a general rule of thumb to use the bike sizing guide for the kids. Different websites have biking size calculators and charts. However, you should measure the inseam of your child in inches using a book and match the right bike.

Note that there are personal variations. For instance, a 9-year-old tall kid can comfortably take 26” wheeled mountain bike.  Here is a comprehensive kid’s bike sizing guide.

Tire Size Age Inseam Height  Clothing Size
12" 2-3 15"-18" 36"-39" 3T
14" 2-4 15"-20" 37"-44" 3T-4T
16" 4-6 16"-22" 41"-48" 4T-5
20" 5-8 19"-25" 45"-48" 6-8
24" 8-11 23"-28" 45"-54" 10-12
26" 10+ 25"+ 56"+ 12+

The Weight of the Mountain Bike

Weight defines the ability to control the child’s bike. A consideration of the ratio of the weight of the kid and that of their bikes reveals that their bikes weigh twice their weight. Kids are not as strong as adults. Therefore, if possible purchase a high-end kids’ mountain bike because they are always lighter. Overall, most of the bike manufacturer’s produce lightweight bikes for the kids. Therefore, getting the best one could be a matter of other factors.

Brake Options for Kids’ Mountain Bikes

If you’ve cycled growing up, you will realize that coaster brakes are kids-friendly. They make braking easy and allow back-pedaling. Nevertheless, they have a disadvantage of adding their weight on the bike. Mostly, because most kids eventually transition to handbrakes. However, having both on a bike can be the right decision.

Preferably, when shopping for a mountain bike for your kid, we advise you buy one that has handbrakes. If there is an option of having both and your kid is just getting started with mountain biking, go for that option.

Once the kids advance their mountain biking skills, it is time to introduce them to disc brakes. Disk brakes are a preference for their accuracy and increased control. 

When getting them the disc brakes, consider those with the sizes fit for their fingers. Bad fit disc brakes can be a nuisance. You do not want to have your kids fatigued after a tough mountain biking adventure.

Mountain Bike Gears for Kids

We always recommend the single-speed mountain bikes for kids riding within the neighborhood and at bike parks. They come with an advantage of lightness, mechanical resilience, and easy management.

When the kids advance their bike handling skills, a good mountain bike must have gears. Gears help in taking on descends and climbs. They spice up the mountain biking experience. When climbing raised elevations, the gears help in climbing without expending much energy.

Some of the kids’ mountain bikes have up to 27 gears. However, this option is always heavy, especially for tall and not well-built kids.

Getting a 7-9 geared mountain bike for your kid can help them climb the steep hills and ride on the flat surfaces with ease.

Dropper Posts for Mountain Bikes for Kids

Do kids’ bikes need droppers? No! For the young Mountain Bikers, there is no need for a dropper. However, droppers build confidence and bike handling capacity. A bike with dropper post can easily maneuver the tough trails. It cannot do any harm adding a dropper post to your 11-year old mountain bike can make a difference in their experience.


There are two types of mountain bike shifters: grip shifters and the trigger shifters. Most of the gear shifters that come with kid’s bike are challenging to handle. It is always advisable to look for components that fall within the age and size of your child. Always look for components that can be handled by small hands. You can always use your fingers to test. When buying a kids’ bike, ensure that you ask the child the types of shifters they prefer.

Suspensions for Kids’ Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes with suspensions make mountain biking a great sport. For beginners, a rigid fork would do. However, as the kids advance, get them a bike with either full or front suspension.

The full suspension mountain bike is suitable for kids who ride in cross-country rocky terrains. However, due to their cost and weight, they are a preserve for a few. The weight can be uncomfortable. For passionate kids, investing in one with air shocks can pay off.

A common question is whether or not a kid’s mountain bike needs a suspension. That depends on the terrain and your budget. Also, what are your long-term goal and the preference of your kids?

Although the front suspension comes with most mountain bikes, it is always heavy. However, some forks weigh less but come at a cost. The suspensions help reduce fatigue in the hands. Again, a high-end bike will come with an efficient and light fork with suspension. We have always gone for this option

Trust us; your kiddo will role those terrains like a pro!

Cost of the Mountain Bikes

High-end kids’ bikes are expensive but efficient and safe. We all want to buy our kids gifts that they live to cherish. Spending on a kid’s bike can be hard to justify. However, wait until the kids get obese and sickly, you will likely spend more on healthcare. A kid’s mountain bike is meant to make them fit, enjoy outdoors and reduce screen time, and create lasting family memories.

As a family, getting a good mountain bike will make the family biking sessions enjoyable. As parents, we have always wondered about the costs of a kids’ mountain bike. However, the consolation of the benefits accrued in the end always carries the day.

Remember that factors such as size, safety measures, geometry, frame materials, and the components make these bikes a huge investment. But again, anything for your kid. Is that not true? There are decent bikes for kids that do not cost a dime.

Components of the Kids’ Bike

When purchasing a kid’s mountain bike, always check the components. Components include the handlebars, bells, saddle, pedals, tires, and grips.

We recommend that you go for a bike with a quality group set, rims, and wheels. It will save you a frequent visits to the bike mechanic or the frustration of storing a broken bike.

As for the tires, always choose decent tire brands. For the mountain bikes, always use the pneumatic tires. There are other accessories that you should purchase including air pumps and puncture repair kits.

Second Hand or New Kids Mountain Bikes?

While buying a second-hand bike can appear to be the best option, spending on a quality bike is the best choice. Many websites deal in second-hand mountain bikes for kids. When purchasing a new one, consider its resale value.

Essentially, a well-serviced bike can sell greatly. For example, if you purchase a $300 bike for your kid, as they transition, you can resell it at $200 and add more money for their next bike. However, always consider the budget you have for your kid’s leisure activity.

Seat Height and Reach of the Bike

Even though these two relate to the size of the bike, they are considered independent. Always buy a mountain bike that can allow you to adjust the seat height according to the height of your kid. When sitting on the bike saddle, your kid needs to touch the balls of their feet. Consider the geometry and type of saddle as well. Some saddles can make your kids have saddle sores.

When the kid is sitting on the saddle, they should comfortably reach the handlebars. Furthermore, they should reach the brakes when seated to simulate their experience when riding. Seat and reach are more about safety than size.

Concluding Remarks

Getting kids happy takes little efforts. One of such efforts is getting them a good kids’ mountain bike. Kids’ mountain biking experiences last longer than those pizza days. Besides, riding a bike is healthy. When planning a first, second, or third family cycling event, choosing the right mountain bike for the kids is inevitable.

We have comprehensively covered the essential areas you need to look. Even when you are just getting your kids their next mountain bike, our guide is still relevant. We wish you a happy purchase and a lifetime experience with your kids. Life on two wheels is surely a thrill.

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