Guide for Buying The Best Kids' Mountain Bikes

eric-awwy By Eric Awwy, 04 Jan 2020

Whether you are looking to introduce your kid to mountain biking or seeking alternatives to spice up their interest in it, there are always many options.

The best kids’ mountain bikes depending on what type of trails or terrains your kid wants to ride. Are they looking for a recreational, relaxed, rugged bike to ride in the neighborhood, or are they interested in tackling dirt trails either as a beginner or as a fully-fledged shredder?

The cheaper mountain bikes might serve their purpose well without affecting your budget, costing between $100 to just below $500. High-quality mountain bikes for kids costing $600 will have great features for budding mountain bikers and shredders.

This comprehensive guide offers quick tips about kids’ mountain bikes, which can come in handy when shopping for the next bike or if you want to build an MTB for your kiddo.

Check out our article on the best-performing kids' mountain bike brands for more insights. 

Top Kids’ Mountain Bike Brands to Consider

Although most kids 11 through to teenage can ride small adult mountain bikes, some brands produce kid-specific mountain bikes. Most popular brands often shrink down adult MTB bikes, but a few are beginning to consider kid-specific geometries.

As experts who’ve interacted with, tested and reviewed bikes, we know who makes what and why they stand out as the best in their category. The kid-specific companies are taking advantage of the fast-expanding kids’ mountain bike market. And the stiff competition makes kids the winners as they end up with bikes better than what we rode in our yesteryears.

Companies are investing more time, money, and expertise in their R&D to make good mountain bikes for children and youth. We have come across a hoard of fantastic mountain bikes made by famous and little-known bike brands, and these brands are fortunately made household names of mountain biking families thanks to their products.

Realizing the need to address young riders' rising love for mountain bikes, most manufacturers have put their rubber on the road. The result is clear, and while the big brands are left slightly behind, these little-known youth and kids MTB brands are making affordable, practical, and reliable bikes.

And for the youth-sized MTB bikes, we’re talking about 26-inch and 27.5-inch bikes and 29ers. Some of the famous big brands are doing something great already. 

Below is a list of some of the most outstanding bike brands that offer mountain bikes in multiple sizes from 16” to 29” that are suitable for kids.

Brand Name

Kid-specific Mountain Bikes


Woom OFF and Woom OFF AIR


Romanes. Meta, Clash, Absolute, Meta HT, Clash Junior


Yoji, Yama Jama, Rokkusuta, Kotori, Rokk


Fluid, Fluid HT +, Rampage, Sight


Mini Beast, Beast, Mega Beast

Early Rider

Seeker X, Seeker, Hellion


Frog 62, Frog 69, Frog, 72


Prevelo Zulu Three, Prevelo Zulu One, Prevelo Zulu Two, and Prevelo Zulu Three.






Vitus, Nucleus


Dreckspatz, Frechdax, Yuma




Trailcraft Blue Sky, Trailcraft Maxwell, Trailcraft Timber, Trailcraft Pineridge


Ricprock Expert, Riprock, Jett

Trek Bikes

Roscoe, Wahoo, Precaliber


Mach, Les, Switchblade


Ethos, Original

Factors to Check when buying a Kids’ Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes are not a preserve for adults. Kids, too, can have fun on dirt trails and make a living out of it if they so wish. Confusion can easily grip you with the many choices available in the market.

As you rummage through the pages with bike offerings or websites for the best kids’ mountain bike brands, consider checking the factors we comprehensively discuss in the following paragraphs.


The budget comes before everything else when purchasing a mountain bike.

We have observed over the years that the more you spend on a bike, the easier it is for a kid to ride it. Quality components and lightweight frames come in as the cost increases.

Besides, costlier bikes come with the advantage of requiring less maintenance, having a longer life cycle thanks to durable construction and top-quality materials and components, and offering value for money in the long run.

Truth be told, low-budget mountain bikes are heavier and larger, which can discourage the shredder spirit in a kid.

Nevertheless, don’t beat yourself up; you should try as much to be generous with your bike budget. Cheap mountain bikes for kids cost around $100, but they lack the resilience to handle proper trails. They are suitable for neighborhood riding, cycling in local parks, and commutes.

We are talking about $1000 upwards for high-quality mountain bikes, and the best of the best kid's MTBs will cost $2000 onwards. These come perfectly fitted with performance and high-quality components, thus no need to upgrade or replace the stock parts.

When it comes to getting a decent mountain bike for kids, prepare to spend some good money. You are looking for something that your kid will take to the trails; truth be told, a decent bike comes at a slightly higher cost.

If you are a mountain biking parent or enthusiast, you would agree that even after buying, you’d probably want to fine-tune the bike, a process that sometimes entails replacing the stock components like tires, drive train, saddle, crank arms, brakes, etc. All these come at an extra cost, but if it’s for fun you want the little shredder to experience, why not?

The cost will also depend on whether the bike is mechanical or electric. Most kids do not need electric mountain bikes to explore the thrills of the trails. However, if they are within a parent’s financial reach, they are a better option, but they deprive the kid of the thrill. You can check out the Woom UP electric MTB.

Bottom line: a good mountain bike is not cheap, so don’t panic about the price tags because they are meant for pure goodness. A good quality bike is also a worthy investment; it guarantees safety, comfort, and performance. The kids get to enjoy all the benefits of cycling.


Bikes are generally not one-size-fits-all, and that is where most parents go wrong and purchase the wrong size bike. Different heights, weights, statures, and ages, means that kids will always fit bikes of different sizes. It is important to fit your kid onto the mountain bike rather than the other way.

To select the best mountain bike for your child, consider measuring their inseam to determine the best size of a mountain bike they would fit on and ride comfortably. Below is a table that details the right size of a bike, considering the inseam range, age, clothing, and height of your kid.

Generally, the most appropriate size of the best mountain bike for a 12-year-old girl or boy is a 24-inch mountain bike. However, some kids aged 11-12 years will comfortably ride 26-inch mountain bikes. There are a few 12” and 14” mountain bikes, and you will also find 16”, 18”, 20”, 24”, 26”, and 27.5” bikes that are suitable for both girls and boys.

Although brands like Woom, Pello, Islabikes, and Cleary make regular bikes with rigid forks, the bikes have the off-road capability for young riders. Spawn, and Prevelo have smaller size mountain bikes.

Hint: The size of kids' bikes, unlike adult bikes, are sized by their wheel sizes.

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+


If you are looking for comfort, performance, and quality experience for your kid as they ride around the neighborhood or through the trails, you should consider the weight of the mountain bike you plan to purchase. It makes a difference because weight defines the ability to control the kids’ bikes.

When purchasing the bike, it would help to consider the ratio of the child’s weight and the bike’s weight or the bike-to-weight ratio. The lower the body-to-bike weight ratio (rider weight divided by bike weight), the better. This means that kids, being lighter than adults, should have the lightest bike to be comfortable and enjoy the ride. The weight of a cyclist also determines, among other things, a power-to-weight ratio.

The weight of a bike depends on the type of frame material. If the frame is made from steel, it would be heavier. Even though steel is hard and heavy, it is durable, and if a frame is masterfully constructed off it, it offers a smoother ride than aluminum as it absorbs vibrations making for smooth rides. It serves the purpose as long as the weight is well distributed in the frame.

Frames made from aluminum are moderately lightweight; however, the lightest frames are constructed from alloy or carbon. As you move from heavy to light, the prices also increase. Most high-end kids’ mountain bikes are lighter than budget, off-the-shelf, or low-end bikes. Other things that determine the weight of a bike include the components such as the drive train, saddle, stem, pedals, suspension, etc.

Types of Brakes

Although coaster brakes are a parent’s favorite, keep them out of your priority when shopping for a perfect mountain bike for your kid. Instead, consider bikes with mechanical discs or rim (v) brakes. The latter is engaged using hand levers, most of which are kid-friendly. The beauty of the handbrakes is that the kid can engage them as they cycle the trains, depending on how much resistance they need, and still move down a hill or through the trail quickly.

Disc brakes are superior to V-brakes because they offer instant stopping power, which comes in handy in emergency stops. Some people argue that disc brakes are heavy; we say that the weight they add is negligible compared to what they achieve. Assuming your child has advanced mountain biking skills, they will find either V or disc brakes efficient.


Everything gets better by the day. Unlike the yesteryears when we rode super heavy and inefficient gearing bikes, kids today have the privilege of enjoying drive trains that deliver good performance and general riding experience.

The best kids’ mountain bikes offer the chance for the little shredders to adjust the gears depending on the gradient of the trail and the ease they want to pedal. They can do so when they want to go hard or soft at their pleasure.

Most drive train options standard in the market come with 6-speed, 7-speed, and 21-speed drive trains. Generally speaking, a 7-10 speed mountain bike is a preferably better option for kids as it allows them to pedal up elevations and pick up some speed on the flat trails. Excess gears make it challenging to manage a bike as they also require double or triple chainrings, which comes in the way of cycling. The kids will think more about how to change the gears with their left hand and right hand, which makes them preoccupied with gearing that enjoying the fun on the bike.

Some kids’ mountain bikes come with the 1X drive train. The 1X drive train technology is a game changer in the cycling industry and more to the kids cycling world.

The advantage of the single chainring setup is that it helps kids learn how to ride on mountain bike trails with ease and faster. It also reduces the bike's weight as there are a few gears.

If you are building your son or daughter a mountain bike, you need to consider the microshift kids’ 1X drive train. You will also need a cassette, rear shifter (derailleur), chain, 1X front chainring, derailleur cable, and cable crimps if upgrading or building your kid a mountain bike.

The suspension (single or dual)

A common question is whether or not a kid’s mountain bike needs a suspension. The answer to this question depends on the goal, preference, and the type of terrain/trails the kids ride their mountain bikes.

Kids' mountain bikes can be categorized based on suspension into fully rigid bikes, hardtail bikes (come with front suspension), and dual or full suspension MTB (have suspension fork and rear shock suspension).

A rigid bike fork is lightweight and performs better as a recreational MTB than bikes with a cheap suspension fork. The cheap suspension forks break down quickly, require frequent maintenance, and do not last to give you value for your money.

Rigid forks made of carbon fiber absorb vibrations better than steel or aluminum frames. An excellent example of a good off-road mountain bike with a rigid carbon fork is the Woom Off the bike, which is excellent for light trails and neighborhood riding.  Other examples include Romanes (16”, 20”, and 24”), Yoji 16, Prevelo Zulu One and Two, Seeker (20’ and 24”), Vitus Plus, and Vitus 20+ and Vitus 24+.

Hardtail mountain bikes with front suspension forks only make for good recreational mountain bikes, and the single suspension fork for the front wheel makes them perfect for casual riding. Even with this, go for those bikes with quality air-sprung suspension forks. It makes the bike look rad and brings performance and comfort into play. So, if you are looking for a perfect bike for a kids’ mountain biking club or camp, or you are an MTB family that does trail rides on moderately complex trails, consider the hardtail MTB for your kids. Examples of good quality hardtail bikes include Nucleus (24 and 26 inches), Cleary scout (20, 24, and 26 inches), Frog (62, 69, and 72), Hellion 20, Hellion 20, Dreckspatz, Seeker 24, Hellion 24, Hellion 16, Flow 16, Flow 20, Meta HT (20” and 24”), Meta HT Junior, Yama Jama, Prevelo Zulu three and four, Kotori 24”, Trailcraft Blue Sky, Trailcraft Timber, Trailcraft Pineridge, and Woom OFF air (20”, 24”, and 26”).

Some cheap/budget mountain bike options include Roadmaster Granite Peak, Huffy Scout, Bwin Rockrider ST100, Schwinn Ranger, Raleigh Rowdy, Polygon Ultralight, Bwin Rockrider ST900, Trek Precaliber, REI Co-OP cycles REV PLUS, Specialized Hotrock, Connandale Trail, Trek Roscoe, and Specialized Riprock. 

But if you want your kid a bike that can conquer the real trails, you would go for enduro mountain bikes or dual- or full-suspension mountain bikes that are slightly heavy and stiff. If your kid has taken an interest in downhill or lift-served riding, weight is never an issue, which makes this category a perfect choice. Look for kid-specific dual suspension MTB bikes such as CarbonXS, Ripcord 24, Hellion X20, Hellion X24, Pivot Mach 4, Pivot Switchblade, Pivot Les, Pivot Mach 5.5, Meek Beast, Mega Best, Mini Beast, Norco Fluid 20, Norco Fluid 24, Norco Fluid HT + 24, Trailcraft Maxwell (24”, 26”), Rokk, Norco Sight, Clash (20”, 24”), Clash Junior,

Tires and Wheels

The type of tires a bike has will determine its performance and comfort. Although bikes with lightweight wheelsets cost more than those with heavier wheelsets, they make a world of difference to the rider. Besides, most of these wheelsets are also tubeless-ready or compatible, which makes them perform even better and need little maintenance.

The recent trend has been to beef up kids’ mountain bike tires while chasing comfort and experience but not factoring in the added weight.

When choosing a bike, go for one with tires that guarantee high volume and are not plus-sized. Such tires as Vee Crown Gem or the Schwalbe Rocket Ron will service the kid’s mountain bike for a long while maintaining a balance between performance and experience.

We also like bikes that come with through-axles rather than quick release when it comes to MTB because they are stable and safer. For casual riding, those with quick-release skewers will do the job.

Seat Height and Reach

Even though these two relate to the size of the bike, they are considered independent. Always buy a mountain bike that allows you to adjust the seat height according to your kid's height. When sitting on the bike saddle, your kid needs to touch the ground with 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 sits on the saddle, they should comfortably reach the handlebars. Furthermore, they should reach the brakes when seated to simulate their riding experience.

Seat and reach are more about safety than size.


Geometry has more to do with a kid's riding than their size. Most mountain bikes in the market have modern, sleek geometry that offers a longer wheelbase. Having such a geometry gives comfort to the little ones as they ride the trails and inspires confidence in the little shredders. It makes bike control and coordination easier for the kids.

If your kid is interested in aggressive riding, which involves speed, jumps, and riding aggressively on smooth trails, a bike with an aggressive geometry will do the work.

Dropper Post

Do kids’ bikes need droppers? No, unless they are professional shredders who have mastered how to use dropper posts.

However, for young Mountain Bikers, there is no need for a dropper post on the saddle.

They do so if your kid needs them because droppers build confidence and bike handling capacity. A bike with a dropper post can easily maneuver the rugged trails.

It cannot harm adding a dropper post to your 11-year-old mountain bike as it can make a world of difference in their experience. However, most mountain bikes for kids come with the standard saddle, and you can add a budget for a dropper post when purchasing.

For the bikes that do not come with a dropper post, check whether there is an internal routing that allows for that upgrade in case your child needs it.


There are two types of mountain bike shifters: grip shifters and trigger shifters.

Most of the gear shifters that come with a 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 small hands can handle. 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.

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, and it will save you a frequent visitor to the bike mechanic or the frustration of storing a broken bike.

Check the saddle and grips as they affect performance, comfort, and safety. They are among the touchpoints on the bike alongside the pedals, and you can always upgrade to a better saddle or grips. Look at the pedals and factor in a budget if you want to upgrade to the best pair of kid-specific bike pedals.

When shopping, look for a bike with an appropriate crank length to allow efficiency when pedaling. At the same time, consider if the bike comes with a water cage or if you will need one. Otherwise, you will not need this feature if your kid rides with a hydration pack. But it is vital to check whether there are extra eyelets that allow you to install water bottle cages. You can also plan to buy cycling water bottles for your kid, which can come in handy during bikepacking, commuting, or bike camping.

As for the tires, always choose decent tire brands. For mountain bikes, always use pneumatic or tubeless-ready tires. There are other accessories that you should purchase, including air pumps and puncture repair kits, depending on the bike's tires.

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. Besides, there are also Facebook groups and forums that have people disposing of second-hand kids’ mountain bikes and components at a throwaway price.

When purchasing a new one, consider its resale value too. Essentially, a well-serviced bike can sell significantly. 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 your budget for your kid’s leisure activities.

Final 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 at. 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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