Learning how to ride a bike as a young child is one of the best skills to master. It doesn’t matter too much what type of bike younger riders first get a chance to test out, but eventually, they usually gravitate towards a particular style.
Riding a quality mountain bike at a young age can get a child hooked on going out there and exploring as much as possible. Of course, to get them hooked, getting the best mountain bike for a kid is the way to go.
That doesn’t mean parents have to go out there and drop a fortune. Some of the best mountain bikes are still extremely affordable and will last much longer than the cheapest option randomly found at a local store.
Here are the best options currently on the market in different price ranges so that any parent out there reading can make a quality decision.
While it might not be a forever bike, it’s still essential to get it just right during this critical learning stage. The more fun they have on this mountain bike, the more inclined they are to stick with riding for life.
Consider this the cheapest option out there (Amazon) for young mountain bike riders who want to push the limits a bit. These are usually sold at big box stores, and they might be initially overlooked because of poor experiences in the past.
Huffy has put out something that is not the most amazing mountain bike ever, but it can still look and perform like one that’s double the price. This makes it a perfect starter mountain bike for kids in this age range.
The Scout weighs in at a fairly respectable 36 pounds, which is pretty good for a bike that sits around $150. It has a 21 speed set up using microshift dual grip shifters, which work reasonably well.
It also has a suspension setup, although it is pretty stiff and probably not providing too much benefit overall.
Everyone loves seeing that the Scout comes with Shimano components, but everything is pretty entry-level as far as that is concerned.
They also do a great job of making sure the frame is designed in a way that really works best for younger riders trying to spread out the weight.
Some of the other entry-level options have the problem of being way too heavy, and feeling even heavier when riding because the geometry is off.
Not only does it perform well, but it looks like a sharp bike as well. With various color choices to choose from, this is a great mountain bike for parents who don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of money.
Maybe kids are showing minimal interest in riding, so there is no reason to go out and buy a bike that is double or triple the price just yet. Out of the ultra-cheap options, the Huffy Scout takes the crown as the best.
- Very affordable.
- Shimano components add respectability.
- Feels relatively lightweight.
- Suspension doesn’t really do much.
- Not the easiest to adjust sizing.
The video above speaks in detail on the Raleigh Rowdy Vs the Trek Precaliber!
A high-quality bike that sits around $300 shows a significant change in quality compared to entry-level models. (Deals on Raleigh Bike From Amazon).
Raleigh has always done a great job of offering some affordably priced options that hold up with the best of the best, and this bike is no different.
Not only is it very lightweight, but it has a geometry that will allow younger riders to really feel like they are stepping their ability up to another level.
Even though the investment is focused on riding off-road, this is a great option for all types of riders at a young age.
There’s no front suspension fork, which might initially seem like a negative, but the rigid fork does a great job of keeping the overall weight down.
That’s good news for kids who might struggle with heavier bikes, adding to overall maneuverability. Younger kids do not always have the strength to handle bikes that get to be too heavy.
Anyone shopping around will find the Raleigh Rowdy to be one that can last the entire time a kid is in this age range.
They will inevitably grow out of this bike at some point, but the bike will still have some life in it to either sell it used at a decent price or as a hand-me-down for the next child.
- Very lightweight.
- Updated geometry worked well.
- Lack of suspension is more of a benefit than a negative.
- Could use a few more color choices.
- More of a well-rounded bike than a true mountain bike.
Another well-rounded choice for parents to opt for is the Trek Precaliber. It is excellent for neighborhood riders looking to go off the pavement a little bit and see what they can do.
Not only that, but it can handle just about anything thrown its way, as it is one of the more rugged options anyone can choose for their child.
At first glance, the setup seems simple enough. This mountain bike has a decent amount of bells and whistles, which includes a Shimano Tourney set up and a casual use fork that mimics what an adult option might have.
It gives kids the feeling that they are actually riding a mountain bike, instead of going with one that looks the part but is dumbed down for smaller riders.
Of course, if parents want to skip out on the suspension, they can go with a single-speed model that has a coaster brake. This won’t have all the functionalities of a typical mountain bike, but it will keep the price down.
Since Trek is one of the most specialized brands in the industry, most people are going to be more than a little bit willing to give this one a try.
No parent should feel like they are skimping out on any part of the buying process for their child, and this has a lot of solid safety features that will be very beneficial.
- Trusted brand.
- Available with or without suspension.
- The brakes are very solid.
- Options without suspension aren’t true mountain bikes.
- Name brand comes with an increase in price.
Specialized put out a ton of bikes for all age groups, and the Hotrock is definitely one of those that receive outstanding reviews.
It is a bit expensive for some parents, but children who are pretty confident in their riding ability already can benefit from the additions. Being able to customize the bike and get the right look is also a bonus.
Since it is one of the more standard options for children, this bike is available in many different color options for both boys and girls.
It’s perfect to actually hit the trails, but it can handle recreation rides as well. The versatility of this bike offsets the price a bit, as a child only needs this bike to go just about anywhere.
Some of the other bikes out there are so specialized that a kid might need two or even three for different rides.
The specifications on his bike definitely help it stand out from the crowd. The suspension is one of the first attention grabbers, as the SR Suntour XCT coil fork makes it very comfortable for riders who might not be confident with some tough terrain.
The brakes are excellent, the gears/shifter is an 8-speed Shimano Tourney, and the entire build is sturdy and comfortable.
Specialized is the type of brand that some fall in love with, then never stray away. Think of the Hotrock as potentially the first bike of many from the brand.
- Excellent suspension.
- Lightweight frame.
- Comes standard with wide, comfortable tires.
- A little on the expensive side.
- The Riprock might be better for true mountain bike riders.
When younger children graduates to a Trek Roscoe, they get a bike that looks very much like an adult mountain bike.
There are two different sizes available, as younger kids can opt for the 20-inch or 24-inch. These bikes have very good traction, which makes them the most versatile option for younger kids to learn how to ride just the right way.
Every rider is going to be slightly different in overall experience and confidence on the trails. That’s why it’s so important to have something so easy to tailor for a younger rider.
For example, lowering the PSI on tires can provide a smoother, cushier ride that mimics a suspension fork. They will still have the same type of grip, but it just becomes a more comfortable ride on certain types of terrain.
Sizing is also very easy to adjust with the Trek Roscoe. It comes in two main sizes, but everything can be tailored to fit a kid just right. It’s one of the most important parts of getting a younger child into mountain biking, and it makes efficiency so much easier.
Brakes, and other safety features, are also high on the list for the Trek Roscoe. Parents will be very comfortable putting their younger children on this bike and understanding that they have a reduced risk of injury.
There’s always going to be some level of risk with mountain biking, but Trek has made this about as user-friendly as possible.
All in all, it might be a little bit more than a person wants to spend on a mountain bike for their child, but it is lightweight and extremely maneuverable.
Those who are a bit advanced for their age group should appreciate all that the Trek Roscoe brings to the table.
- Available in bigger sizes for fast-growing children.
- Tires provide a ton of traction.
- No suspension.
The final bike to make this list comes from a brand that might not be completely recognizable at first. Prevelo (Amazon) is a brand that has plenty of high-quality mountain bikes out, and their Zulu is explicitly designed for kids.
They have done a lot to help grow mountain biking in general for the next generation, and those who take riding seriously can really benefit from the setup.
While a six-year-old might have a little bit of trouble with the Prevelo Zulu, those who are advanced enough will start to notice a big difference with riding.
It all starts with some of the main details of the bike, as it comes with a carbon lower air fork, hydraulic disc brakes, Alex rims, 140 mm cranks, and an 11-46 T rear cassette.
If this is the type of setup that seems like an adult bike, that’s because it is that advanced.
With all these specs comes a pretty hefty price, but parents who know that their child will get a lot of use out of the bike won’t hesitate to buy.
The top build will be around $1300, but a more standard build can be purchased for under $1000. It is perfect for all types of riding, but does particularly well when descending.
Children who have grown out of entry-level mountain bikes and want a little bit more thrill will definitely benefit from a setup like this.
- Outstanding overall specs for a kids bike.
- Very lightweight.
- Top-level fork.
- Components are vulnerable to issues when children are riding rough.
Is there a difference between boys’ and girls’ mountain bikes?
Since children have not reached puberty yet at this age, there are very few differences between boys’ and girls’ mountain bikes.
The bar is low enough for both boys and girls to step over with these, and the standard sizes of 20 inches and 24 inches are sufficient for both.
One of the only things that really make a mountain bike more for a boy or a girl might be color choice. Brands have tried to offer as many color choices as possible so people can have their pick. Other than that, these mountain bikes are mostly unisex.
Is a 20-inch or a 24-inch mountain bike better?
Sizing is something that is pretty important whenever parents happen to be shopping around for a new bike option. If a child is relatively small or fits in that 6 to 8-year-old range, It might be time to go ahead with a 20-inch bike.
It will eventually be too small for the rider, but no one wants to be stretched out too much when they are really in the learning stages.
A 24-inch bike generally fits a child starting to ride around 8 or 9 years old, and it will last for a few years. Of course, these are rough estimates, as every child grows at a different pace.
Take the inseam of a child’s pants to really get an idea of whether a 20 inch or 24-inch bike fits them.
Remember that bigger bikes will probably cost a little bit more money, but it is ultimately worth it in the end so that they are safe and learning how to ride just the right way.
What type of gear options are necessary for younger riders?
Gears are something that a lot of people do not fully understand. It is nice to have gear options, but more gears don’t necessarily make it a better bike.
It all depends on the gears’ quality and if it is easy for children to make use of the shifters at a moment’s notice. Shifting is much easier said than done, especially when riders are going downhill and need to make quick decisions.
Having an option that shifts pretty quickly and efficiently is the better way to go.
What type of weight is ideal for a mountain bike for this age?
Almost all the bikes listed above fall somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds. This is a manageable weight for children learning how to ride, and it helps significantly with maneuverability.
Some cheaper options get up to 40 pounds or even more, but that seems to do a lot of steering itself instead of allowing a child to figure it out on their own.
Should a kid’s bike come with a suspension fork?
There are plenty of bikes with suspension forks for bike riders in this age range, but is it vital? It really depends on how smoothly parents want to have the ride for their kids.
Since most children are not going to take a huge beating on the trails as an adult would, they don’t really need a suspension fork that works the same way.
Another drawback to suspension forks is that they can be a little stiff and heavy, which might be nothing more than an unnecessary weight for younger riders.
Only advanced riders at the stage should really think about a suspension fork. Most of the setups are going to handle basic trails, as well as some small jumps. Until a rider hits puberty, the need for a suspension fork is not really there.
What’s the price range of a typical bike for this age?
Parents are always finding themselves in a bit of a dilemma as far as figuring out how much a good bike should cost. It is particularly tough with younger kids, because inevitably, an upgrade will happen once they get too big.
The good news is that manufacturers don’t charge nearly as much for quality bikes for children as they do for adults. A pretty nice overall option is going to be right around that $500 mark, while entry-level options can be as little as $200.
What is the assembly process like for mountain bikes for kids?
Any bike that is purchased online is likely going to require some level of assembly. While parents might feel like they can do it themselves, others will opt for taking it to a local bike shop.
They will be able to make sure that everything is properly put together, and they can also do some sizing at the same time.
It’s important to note that even a brand new bike might need some tuning to get things just right. For example, the brakes and derailleurs might not be 100% set up properly, even if they are brand new.
Local bike shops will charge for assembly, but it is usually worth the peace of mind in the end that everything is done correctly. Developing a relationship with the bike shop for future needs is never a bad thing.
Create a lifelong passion had an early age with a mountain bike
Riding a mountain bike can be something that children enjoy for the rest of their life if they fall in love with the sport.
Not everyone will find it to be extremely fun, but it’s a great way to get exercise and really go out there and enjoy life as much as possible. Not only can it be used on pavement, but off-road as well.
Taking a little bit of extra time to get a good mountain bike at this age can encourage kids to get out there and exercise more than they normally would.
It also helps parents worried about keeping their children protected, as all these bikes have great safety reviews. With countless shopping options to consider, narrowing down the choices is always a great option.