Chances are there’s a good place to ride somewhere in your neck of the woods, but before your kids can experience nature on two wheels they’ll need a solid bike. Why? The key to getting your kid to love any activity is to make sure that they’re at least mildly successful when they first try it. For mountain biking, that means picking a trail with a low level of difficulty and equipping your little one with one of the best mountain bikes of kids, a ride that can easily handle beginner trails.
See more: Best Kids Outdoor Toys
But shopping for a kids’ mountain bike can be tricky. Manufacturers often build kids’ bikes heavier to save money, and parents, cognizant of growth spurts, don’t want to sink a lot into wheels their kid will soon outgrow. While it’s tempting to save some cash this way, it’s worth spending a little bit more if your kid is itching to become a dirt-hopping downhiller. Our picks for the best mountain bikes for kids are light but tough. They come with reliable brakes, smooth shifting, and legit suspensions that add up to a positive introduction to an active, nature-based hobby.
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This 7-speed Mongoose mountain bike has a lightweight frame and you can opt for either 20- or 24-inch wheels, making it a versatile option.
Pros: It’s designed for riders between 4’8″ and 5’6″, and looks-wise, would work well as either a girls or boys mountain bike. The twist shifter is easy for beginners to master, and two types of brakes—Nexus Inter3 with coaster hub as well as front and rear v-brakes—give parents peace of mind.
Cons: A Mongoose ride can definitely be quite an investment.
With its 20-inch tires and full suspension, this six-speed bike is ideal for kids ready to really go off-roading.
Pros: Great for kids five and older, this 20-inch mountain bike by Huffy has twist grip shifting for smooth transitions, plus it has a removable rear derailleur guard that protects the gears, and front and rear steel linear pull handbrakes that give riders stability and control.
Cons: The brake lines take some adjustment to get them just right.
This 24-inch mountain bike has a rider-friendly grip-shift system, so it's a great choice for kids just starting out on the trails. The disc brakes are a nice add, too.
Pros: This stellar bike has knobby tires that are perfect for gravel, pavement, dirt, or grass. And the grip shift makes the bike easier to control. Plus the 6061 SLA aluminum frame is lightweight, but can take a major beating.
Cons: Some riders say the gears don’t shift as smoothly as they could.
Shopping for a girls 24-inch bike? Exlipse is a weird name, but this steel bike is a great option. It has front and rear linear brakes and 21 Shimano dearilleur speeds for smooth shifting over rough terrain.
Pros: Twist-action shifters makes it easy for kids to change gears while keeping their hands on the handlebars and near the brakes. Users also tend to agree that assembly is pretty painless, with some getting it done in as little as ten minutes.
Cons: Steel just isn’t as light as aluminum, and this bike’s 40ish pound weight means it might be harder for kids to take up steep hills.
If you have an accident-prone kid, this is the bike for them. It's billed as the safest bike in the world, which isn't a claim we can verify, but we can tell you that it's loaded with features designed to keep kids safe no matter what kind of trail they're on. It's engineered to have a lower center of gravity, a feature that makes tip-over accidents less likely. The SureStop brake system activates both brakes with one lever, greatly reducing both stopping distance and the odds of your kid going head-over-handlebars on a quick stop. And every bike comes with a 34-point safety check already completed.
Pros: At 21.5 pounds, the frame is lightweight, so kids don’t need to pedal as hard to fly down the trail. This bike also arrives almost completely assembled so even the least handy of parents can get their kid up and riding quickly, with just the handlebar and pedals to install.
Cons: There are only six speeds, and the tires could be a bit too thin for particularly rocky trails.
This 21-speed bike is fairly lightweight, and it has a host of features that kids will be excited about.
Pros: It’s a great value for the money, with high-quality components from companies like Shimano included at a fairly low price point. There’s also a dashboard-style display that looks cool and shows them which gear they’re using, key information for kids still learning how to shift.
Cons: Some parents say that the shifters can be hard for small hands to operate.
There are thick tires and then there are the 4-inch bad boys that come standard on this bike, appropriately called a fat bike. Just like a monster truck's tires crush everything that comes in their path, the Oso Niño can roll over whatever comes in your kid's way. There are seven gears and disc brakes built on a solid steel frame.
Pros: It’s not just their size. The tires on this Diamondback mountain bike are low pressure, which means they mold to the terrain and glide more easily on top of snow. This thing also has a steel frame that’s stronger than aluminum and mechanical disc brakes that have plenty of stopping power.
Cons: The steel frame is way heavier than aluminum options, and it might be harder for smaller kids to propel and control.
This single-speed Raleigh mountain bike couldn't be easier to ride, so it's a great choice for older kids who are learning to ride who want to tackle trails once they get the hang of things. It has 2.125-inch tires for a smooth ride over rough terrain, a low standover frame, and soft PVC grips that make longer rides super comfortable.
Pros: Think of it as a mini bike for kids: The low standover frame means it’s easy to mount and dismount this ride, and the lack of gears means that kids still nervous about riding won’t have to worry about shifting. The twisting shifter makes it easy to change gears , and the styling looks like an adult mountain bike in a smaller package.
Cons: We don’t love the neon frame, and the downside of a single-speed bike is that getting up hills can be tricky. Save this one for flat rides.
This is a sharp-looking Diamondback mountain bike. It has a rich blue coat of paint, white front fork, and an all-black chain and gear assembly that look badass together. The six simple speeds in a Shimano 1x6 drivetrain strike a nice balance between the flexibility of a bike with multiple speeds and the simplicity of riding a single-speed.
Pros: The shifter is a trigger that’s easy for smaller hands to operate while rolling, and there’s a guard over the rear derailleur to protect it from damage or slipping.
Cons: At 25 pounds, this bike isn’t as light as some of our other picks, so it’ll take a bit more work to get to top speed.
We like that this mountain bike includes both a rear coaster brake and a front caliper brake, which helps kids transition to a hands-only brake when they're older.
Pros: You may be looking for the best entry level mountain bike, especially if you aren’t sure if your kid will get into the sport—if so, this is a solid option for a beginner whose parents don’t want to throw down a ton of cash. This bike is easy to ride and has an adjustable saddle and a slack seat-tube angle that let the bike to grow with your child.
Cons: The quality can be iffy, so this is at best a starter bike and not meant for years of use and abuse.
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