Best Kids’ Mountain Bikes: Choose the Right Wheels for Your Child
Get your children out and about on the trails with these top kids’ mountain bikes
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PUBLISHED ON November 27, 2019
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they have to choose a bike on behalf of their child. With wide wheels and proper suspension, a dedicated mountain bike might be the most suitable choice, even if your child currently has no interest in heading out on the trails. On the other hand, if they’re going to be flying down mountains, it’s even more important that you make an informed decision. Check out our top picks and advice on getting the best kids’ mountain bikes below.
- Best OverallSchwinn Koen Bike with SmartStart FrameSummarySummaryDurable steel-framed bike designed specifically with children in mind and kid-size proportions for comfort and ease of use. Includes a fully covered chain for increased safety and is available in a range of fully-adjustable sizes to fit all ages and heights. Includes a lifetime warranty.ProsProsIt comes in three different neutral colors (black, blue, and red) to suit all tastes. Features both rear coaster and front caliper brakes for additional stopping power and increased peace of mind.ConsConsPackage does not include the allen wrench required to complete assembly. Also, the bike is relatively heavy for its size.
- Best ValueHuffy Kids Hardtail Mountain BikeSummarySummaryA hardtail mountain bike with six-speed Shimano gears, linear-pull hand brakes and a durable 13-inch steel frame designed for children aged five to nine. Handlebar shape encourages upright riding to reduce back strain, and Kolo 1200 suspension fork provides a smoother ride. Includes lifetime warranty.ProsProsAvailable in two different colors (solar flare gloss pink and metallic cyan) to suit both boys and girls. Its 1.95-inch wide tires are suitable for aggressive riding on both pavement and more rugged terrain.ConsConsInstructions in the owner’s manual cover several different bicycles, which can make assembly difficult. Also, the bike’s saddle is particularly uncomfortable.
- Honorable MentionDiamondback Cobra Youth Mountain BikeSummarySummarySteel-framed mountain bike in orange with Hl Zoom 40mm travel fork for improved suspension, six-speed Shimano drivetrain for helping on hills, and fat tires for high performance on all types of terrains. The 20-inch wheels make this an ideal fit for kids aged four to nine or those between 44 and 55 inches tall.ProsProsEasy to assemble with RideReady status, which means brakes and tires are all sorted. The only assembly required is attaching the front wheel, seat, and pedals. Brake levers are adjustable for each individual child.ConsConsThe bike frame is much smaller than wheel size and the product description suggests, and it’s unlikely to fit kids who are taller than average. The tires that come with the bike reportedly wear down very quickly.
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- Measure your kid’s inseam to ensure you get a proper fit. Anything too big is dangerous, and anything too small will quickly become unusable. Pick a bicycle at the lower end of the recommended size range so that it’s comfortable but can be adjusted up as they grow.
- When it comes to mountain bikes, suspension and quality are key. A good air spring and high-quality damping, for example, is preferable to extra travel. We recommend checking the specifications of the forks and shock absorbers. You can get exact model numbers from the bike manufacturer’s website.
- If you know your child will be using the bike for mountain trails, then make sure you’ve got them fully outfitted. Mountain bike helmets are stronger and provide more head coverage than standard all-purpose helmets and usually offer a peak which, combined with glasses, will help protect the eyes and face from debris and flying rocks. A backpack is always useful, and you might also want dedicated shoes and/or pedals.
Q: What’s the best wheel size for children’s mountain bikes?
A: In general, larger wheels are more stable because they handle bumps better than small wheels. They are also more efficient because less pedaling is required to keep the bike moving. Choose a bike with the biggest wheels available for your kid’s height.
Q: Will I need tools to adjust my child’s bike?
A: A basic bike tool kit is always handy for tightening bolts that may come loose after an epic, bouncy ride across the trails, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Height adjustments usually just involve the seat, which is affixed to the bike by a clamp and can be moved by hand.
Q: At what age can my child start mountain biking?
A: This depends more on how big your kid is rather than how old he or she is. Based on average heights, a child between the ages of 10 and 13 should be fine on a mountain bike. However, as long as they have a suitably designed and properly fitted bike, there shouldn’t be a problem with younger children joining in as well.