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What Are the Best Kids Mountain Bikes? A Complete Guide

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September 7, 2021

choosing a mountain bike for your child

Are you planning to hit the trails with your kid? If your rider is a little too small for a full-sized mountain bike, you might be feeling stuck. This is especially the case if you find that their trusty 20-inch wheel bike isn’t fitting them comfortably anymore. 

If this is the situation, you’re likely to find that a 24-inch wheel kids mountain bike is the right option for them. These kids mountain bikes can keep up with your kiddo’s growing body for more than three years and can certainly help them acquire more advanced skills for the trails. 

Nonetheless, picking out the right kids mountain bike can be incredibly daunting. You want to choose one that ensures your kiddo remains safe and comfortable. We have everything you need to know and more. Let’s dive in! 

Quick Comparison 

(Full details of each bike further down the page):

Featured Kids Bike Brand – VULY

One of the most stylish but robust brands on the Australian market is VULY. If you haven’t checked our their range yet…..you should

The first thing you’ll notice is the amazing styling, but also you’ll immediately know they are robust and sturdy, just what you want for a kids bike. Available in 24″ (8 – 11 years), 20″ (6 – 9 years), 16″ (3 – 6 years), and 12″ (2 – 4 years) models, there is a bike for every kid. 

Price: For such a quality bike, they are also incredibly well priced, starting at $300. It’s no wonder they are becoming one of the most popular kids bikes brand in Australia. You can read our full VULY review here.

 

24 inch childrens mountain bike

pink kids 20 inch mountain bike

Choosing the Right Kids Mountain Bike: 

Picking the right size mountain bike for kids may seem simple. However, there’s more to consider than your child’s age when it comes to selecting the best kids’ bike. Your choice is more dependent on materials, weight, height, brands’ reputation, and more. 

Furthermore, it’s vital to remember that you shouldn’t be choosing a bike size that your child can ‘grow into.’ As the bike size increases, so does its weight. This can make the bike more challenging to manoeuver. Additionally, increased height also raises the centre of gravity, making it more difficult to balance. This is why a larger-sized bike should be avoided at all costs. 

You should be mindful that the most accurate way to know if a kids’ bike is a suitable size for your child is if they can: 

  • Comfortably stand over the bike with both of their feet placed flat on the ground
  • Reach the bike’s handlebars and pedals when seated. 

We have highlighted everything you need to consider before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the best kids’ bike for your child. Here are the considerations you need to make before settling on a model: 

Materials 

The specific materials included in the mountain bike’s construction can vary depending on the price. What materials are used play a significant role in the bike’s durability, appearance, and weight. Kids bikes are commonly made from either aluminium or steel. 

Steel mountain bikes are known to be the most cost-effective while being highly durable. Additionally, a steel mountain bike can easily withstand the elements and excessive use. The major drawback associated with these types of kids bikes is that the weight is significantly heavier than that of aluminium kids bikes. Moreover, the bike is likely to rust if ridden or left out in most weather conditions. 

An aluminium mountain bike is highly durable while being light and almost entirely rust-proof. However, these models come at a more expensive price when compared to steel alternatives. 

Gears 

Mountain bikes for kids are typically constructed with a single gear. This is done to ensure riding this bike isn’t over complicated. However, the bike still allows the child to become more experienced and skilled while having more speeds available. 

These kids bikes with single-gear functionality generally feature an easy pedalling ratio. This ensures that no children have problems turning the bike’s pedals over. 

Such ratio is likely to become bigger if a single-speed gear is included as the bike’s size increases. As a result, it can become more challenging to initially pedal. Nonetheless, the kid can reach faster overall speeds. 

When multiple gears are included in the bike’s construction, it generally involves a single cog at the front of the bike with several cogs on the rear. A shifting mechanism is included on the handlebar to control these numerous cogs. 

Generally speaking, children are required to have access to eight or seven gears when starting. However, some 20-inch bikes for children can have as many as 21 to 24 gears with seven or eight cogs on the rear and three on the front. 

Many mountain bikes for children include a chain guard covering the upper run of the chain and the chain wheel. This protects your child from rubbing their legs against the chain or getting a piece of their clothing or shoelaces caught. The cover can effortlessly be removed if you want. However, it does offer some peace of mind while trying to build up your child’s riding skills. Don’t forget, if your children are still not ready for a bike, you have the option of using a tag-along bike trailer in the short term.

best child mtb for trails

Image source: BMC Switzerland

Tyres 

The tyres available when purchasing mountain bikes come in various forms. These include honeycomb rubber, pneumatic (an air-inflated tyre), solid foam, hard plastic, and solid rubber. 14-inch, 12-inch, and balance bikes are available with these various types of tyres. However, you’re likely to find that most of these types are pneumatic as the bike’s size increases. 

Pneumatic tyres are likely so common because of the benefits associated with such wheels. Some of these advantages include good grip and a cushioned ride. Additionally, you can choose from multiple tread patterns. The most popular options are knobby (similar to mountain bike types), slick (no thread pattern similar to road bike types), or a standard tread pattern. 

Depending on the type of terrain your kid is going to be riding on and the area you’re situated in, the tread pattern you pick can make a massive difference. We strongly recommend that you choose the relevant tread type to what area you’re in, as this is going to offer the best platform for your child to ride on. 

It’s crucial to remember that a more pronounced tread pattern can offer grip on rough terrain while helping shed mud when riding mountain biking. In contrast, slick types are better suited for smooth surfaces and offer less rolling resistance and excellent levels of grip. This results in faster speeds, making it the perfect option for road riding. 

Weight 

The weight of a mountain bike largely depends on the size, the type of tyres used, and what material is included in the construction. You should be mindful of the total weight. This is because the more the bike weighs, the more challenging it’s going to be for your kid to maneuver, which can adversely affect your child’s overall riding experience. 

Steel mountain bikes are heavier than aluminium ones while a bigger tyre size also adds to the bicycle’s overall weight. Multiple gears and additions (like hand-operated lever brakes, kickstands, and suspension) also attribute to more weight. 

These kids bikes generally make up 25 to 40 per cent of the child’s weight. However, this figure is dependent on the child’s height to weight ratio, the model you select, and their age. If possible, it’s advised to limit the weight of the bike to less than 50 per cent of the child’s weight. 

Brakes 

When selecting from the wide array of mountain bikes available, you should consider the two common types of brakes that might be included in the bicycle’s construction. These are either lever-operated or coaster. 

  • Coaster brakes: This brake type is activated by pedalling backwards. It’s commonly found on smaller bikes because younger children lack the hand and arm strength to use a hand-lever braking system. 
  • Lever-operated brakes: Generally speaking, these lever-operated hand brakes might be present on the smallest bicycles and balance bikes. However, the inclusion of these lever-operated braking systems is often only included in the smallest kids bicycles to help learn good habits rather than for a practical purpose. As we mentioned above, kids between the ages of two and five years old typically lack the arm strength to rely on this lever-operated braking. Hence, you should rather purchase a bicycle with a coaster brake when they are first starting out. Your child’s physical ability, strength, and confidence are what should be considered when preparing your child to use a handbrake. MTBs for kids may, or may not use disc brakes. It will depend on the brand.

Seat Height 

Selecting the tyre size isn’t indicative of the bike’s seat height. That’s why the seat height is worthwhile checking before you make any purchases. You can do this by checking the bike’s maximum and minimum standover height and seat height. 

The seat height found for kids bikes typically begin at 10 inches and can go up to an adult bike height range of 40 inches. The most effective way to know if your kid can fit the bike is to get them to stand over the seat. If they are unable to do this, you can measure your child’s inseam and allow approximately two inches leeway to the seat. 

Training Wheels 

You’re presented with various positives and negatives when using training wheels or stabilizers. When looking at the advantages, these training wheels offer stability, enhance confidence, and can be incredibly valuable during the early stages of riding.

This is especially the case if your child lacks the strength to turn the pedals. Your kid can also get many benefits from these training wheels if the bike’s weight is too much. Moreover, going straight onto a pedal bike without any stabilizers or training wheels can be far too challenging if your child has never used a scooter or balance bike before. 

However, the disadvantage associated with these training wheel features is that this support can teach your kid bad habits while making the process of riding without any support even more difficult. These wheel stabilizers can also influence how effective the bike’s braking system is when turning. This is because the weight is on the training wheel instead of the bicycle’s rear wheel. 

If you decide that training wheels would be the best approach, you can start these tyres level to the ground. As your child becomes more confident, you can gradually raise these wheels until you reach the point that they can almost ride without this training wheel support. You can then remove these wheels when your child is confident enough. 

Budget 

The price for these kids bikes greatly depends on the material, wheel size, frame size, and the type you ultimately select. We have listed a few things you should consider when choosing a kids’ bike on a budget:

  • Children are bound to outgrow these bikes in a very short period. That’s why it’s worthwhile thinking one step further and deciding whether this bicycle is going to be sold or handed down after your child has outgrown it. In either case, you should keep it in good condition and not throw it any of the reflectors, spares, training wheels, instructions, or any other items included in the initial purchase. It may also be helpful to pick neutral colours, as this doesn’t restrict the gender this bike is going to go to next. 
  • Should you buy this bicycle from your local bike shop or department store. Bike stores are known to have the expertise, can assemble your purchase safely, and can act as a point of contact if anything goes wrong. On the other hand, department stores lack the specific expertise of this product. That’s why you’re likely required to assemble the bike yourself. Moreover, you have limited resources available when purchasing through a department shop. Bikes sold at bicycle shops are constructed to a higher quality standard than the ones you can find in department shops. You get what you pay for when it comes to these two options. 
  • We have named a few accessories you can include. However, not all of these additions come with the standard bike. That’s why you should always find out what comes with your initial purchase and any possible additions you’re required to purchase. Essential items like brakes, bells, and reflectors typically come with the bike. Yet, baskets, kickstands, and training wheels are generally included. 

What Are the Best Kids Mountain Bikes? 

The market is overly saturated with various mountain bikes built for kids. This can make your search daunting when trying to find the right bicycle for your children. That’s why we have looked through the market to find the top ten picks for the best 24-inch bikes. Here’s what we found: 

#1 2021 Polygon Premier Ultralight Kids Bike 

You can expect so much value when purchasing this 24-inch bike. The Poly Premier is equipped with a lightweight alloy frame, kinda 1.75-inch tires, 140mm cranks, quick release seat post, short-reach v-brakes, 70 HA, 7spd tourney derailleur w 14-28T cassette, and 410mm chainstays. The full suspension helps provide the rider with confidence, which is a great addition if your child is new to mountain biking. You get a lot from this 24-inch bicycle, especially when you consider its low price. Moreover, it comes with a lifetime frame warranty and a 14-day no questions return policy. 

Features: 

  • Weight: 23 lbs
  • Wheel size: 24 inches
  • Minimum seat height: 25.5 inches 
  • Min-Max ride height: 4’1-4’11”
  • Full suspension included in the lightweight frame
best polygon kids mtb

#2 Marin Wildcat Trail Kids Mountain Bike 

This bike is perfect for those starting their mountain biking journey or at an intermediate level. Kids transitioning to a 24-inch bike are likely to love this model. Its full suspension fork includes an SR Suntour coil that varies depending on the specific model you pick. The bike also includes Tektro Hydraulic Disc brakes and a mechanical disc system. Additionally, the wide 780 mm handlebars offer a comfortable and stable base for new riders.

Features: 

  • Bike weight: 33.3 lbs (with an XS frame) 
  • Tires: 27.5” x 2.25”
  • Wheel size: 24 inches
  • Full suspension fork: SR Suntour coil
  • Braking: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes (with mechanical disc brakes)
  • Seat height range: 31.5” to 36.0” when purchasing an XS lightweight frame
wildcat marin best 24 kids trail bike

#3 2022 Marin San Quentin 24 Hardcore Kids Mountain Bike

This balance bike is available in either 20 or 24-inch models and features a Series 2 lightweight aluminium frame. The frame’s construction includes 3D, forged dropouts, a tapered head tube, IS brake mounts, 135 mm open dropouts, and semi-internal cable routing. It’s equipped with adjustable hardtail dual-suspension forks with hydraulic disc brakes. Additionally, the design includes wide-range 1x drivetrains that are high-performance and serviceable for many years to come. 

Features: 

  • Brakes front: Shimano BR-MT201 hydraulic
  • Brakes rear: Shimano BR-MT201
  • Brake levers: Shimano hydraulic
  • Wheel size: 20- or 24-inch
  • Warranty: a lifetime factory warranty on the bike frame and a full manufacturer’s warranty is covered for all bike parts. 
best marin kids mtb

#4 Norco Fluid FS 1 24 Kids Bike

This Norco Fluid FS model is the perfect hardtail option for nine to 12-year-olds. It’s equipped with X-Fusion and Fox suspension packages that are ready to handle anything your child might encounter while on the trail. This balance bike includes Maxxis Minion DHR/DHF tires and a 100mm dropper. Young riders who aren’t ready for a 24-inch bike can also use the remodelled Norco Fluid 1 20-Inch model. 

Features: 

  • Frame material: Aluminum alloy
  • The wheel size of the bike: 24 inches
  • Brakes: Shimano BR-MT500 hydraulic, 180mm
  • Fork: 145mm Travel, Alloy Steerer, Expert Air, Manitou J-Unit 24 inches
kids mountain bike norco fluid

#5 Raleigh Redux 24-Inch Kids Bike 

If your kid is new to mountain biking, this Raleigh model works as a great introduction to the sport. These bikes are designed with a lightweight aluminium alloy frame and include mechanical disc brakes that work perfectly for young riders. It also includes a 1×7 drivetrain in the design to ensure a smooth ride. Additionally, this 24-inch mountain bike helps provide a great understanding of the front and rear gears while learning how to use a multi-gear bike. 

Features: 

  • Wheel sizes: Only available in 24 inches 
  • Bike fork and shock: rigid
  • Derailleur: Shimano Tourney 
  • Shifters: 7 speed Shimano Revo
  • Minimum standover height: 23.7 inches
  • Front suspension
kids redux

#6 Prevelo Alpha 

The Alpha Four is an excellent bike for children. It’s the right size bike for children between the ages of 10 and 13 years old. Several features are included in this bike that makes it a quality option. Firstly, its low and narrow geometry enhances the rider’s confidence. Additionally, this lightweight geometry keeps riders low, in control, and balanced. The bike frame includes custom-formed tubing and an aluminium alloy fork with a Chromoly steerer. This helps keep the weight manageable. 

Features: 

  • Wheel size: 24 inches
  • Derailleur: 8-speed Shimano Altus
  • Shifters: Shimano Acera RAPIDFIRE Plus
  • Bike fork: Rigid
  • Standover height: 22 inches
alpha prevelo kids bike

#7 Cleary Bikes Scout 24-Inch Kids Mountain Bike 

This Clearly Bikes Scout Kids model is designed as a hardtail bike for children and offers full suspension to ensure your kid remains comfortable. Its front and rear are equipped to provide a responsive and balanced ride while the frame size only adds to the comfortability offered. The two wheels are specifically made for off-roading while the 1×10 drivetrain allows your young rider to increase his or her MTB skills. It also includes front suspension and a top tube hydraulic braking system with junior-sized levers to help build confidence. 

Features: 

  • Fork: Suntour XCR LO 24
  • Derailleur: Shimano Deore M6000 Shadow Plus
  • Frame material: 4130 Chromoly 
  • Minimum Standover height: 26 inches
  • Size of the tyres: 24 inches
  • Full suspension 
cleary kids bike

Wrapping It Up

All of the mountain bikes for kids mentioned in this list are suitable options. Once you’ve selected one, we strongly recommend that you take this a step further by also purchasing a few bits and pieces to keep your child comfortable, secure, and safe while riding. A helmet is an essential item that you can’t forget. 

Additionally, you should also sit your child down to prep them on the safety precautions they need to take while riding. After you’ve done this, you’re ready for your kiddo to take their mountain bike for a spin! 

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About the author 

Beastie Bikes Pete

Hi I'm Pete. I'm a passionate mountain biker in Australia. I enjoy writing about biking as much as doing it......almost!

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