Kids mountain bikes are built to withstand any terrain thanks to their light build, incredible extension, and versatility. Whether it’s muddy or rocky, these bikes can help your children have a blast while riding.
Although having a mountain bike can be an excellent way to introduce your children to the great outdoors, it can often be challenging to choose the right one. To help you out, we’ve listed the top kids mountain bikes of 2022 below for some outdoor family fun.
Buyer’s guide for finding a kids mountain bike
While a mountain bike is an excellent way for your kids to connect with nature, the varieties in shape, size and function can make it challenging to select the ideal one. That’s why, to help you with your search, we’ve listed everything you need to know about kids mountain bikes in 2022:
Things to consider
Here are some things you need to consider before purchasing a kids mountain bike for your little rider:
Whenever you’re shopping for a kids mountain bike, the material of the frame is the most crucial factor you should take into account. Pick out a bike with a lightweight steel or aluminum design that adds to its durability while also keeping it stable. You should also make sure that the bike’s weight is less than half your child’s weight, as this will allow them to easily maneuver their kids mountain bike however they like.
When considering the height of a kids mountain bike, there are two main things you should think about — seat height and stand-over height. When looking at seat height, make sure that it’s adjustable and allows your child to have both feet firmly planted on the ground when they’re seated — this helps prevent your kid from falling off the bike and changing their direction while standing. An adjustable seat also allows you to increase the bike’s height if your child outgrows it in a year, offering a futureproof option that can help you save money in the long run.
For stand-over height, you need to make sure that your child can straddle the bike with both feet flat on the ground. Your child should easily be able to stand when the kids mountain bike is stationary so they don’t end up falling over every time they stop the bike. You can also refer to extensive bike height guides to make sure that you don’t purchase the wrong-sized mountain bike for your little one.
There are two variations of brakes on kids mountain bikes — coaster/pedal brakes and squeezable brakes. We recommend getting a bike with squeezable brakes, as these are much more intuitive for children to learn and use, especially for younger ages.
Coaster brakes, while admittedly more effective, are counterintuitive, and a child might not be able to generate the force required to stop their bike at high speeds. If your little one is 12 years or older, though, they’ll probably be able to make do with pedal brakes.
Choosing the suspension will depend on how your kid intends to use their mountain bike. If they mainly ride on flat trails, getting a bike with only a front suspension will be a cheaper and more suitable option. If your child intends to tackle rocky trails and bumpy tracks, though, we recommend purchasing a full suspension to make the ride more enjoyable — as well as less painful — for your little one.
Gears aren’t really necessary when it comes to kids mountain bikes, but they do help your child traverse slopes and hilly areas. When considering gears, there are two questions you need to ask yourself — how many gears do you want, and which gear type should you go for? Let’s help you answer them!
How many gears?
The number of gears can reach up to 27 on a professional model, but you won’t need to go overboard on a kids mountain bike. We recommend getting a bike with seven to nine gears, as this will give your child an option for cycling up hills and racing on sidewalks while also preparing them for a more advanced mountain bike later in life.
Types of gears — grip shifters and trigger shifters
There are generally two types of gears present in a kids mountain bike — grip shifters and trigger shifters. Grip shifters provide more options but can be challenging for children with smaller hands to use, as they likely won’t be able to reach and grip the shifter on the handle.
A trigger shifter can be much more convenient for children to operate, no matter their age or hand size. This is because of the more familiar design of the trigger, which is also used in plastic toys and brake levers. For a more comprehensive description of both types of shifters, you can take a look at this guide.
Kids Mountain Bikes FAQ’s
Q: Does having more gears in your mountain bike help on rocky trails?
Having more options is not always better, especially for someone who is just learning how to ride. A lower gear is generally used for biking uphill so the rider doesn’t have to put as much effort in while pedaling, but take your child’s experience into account when considering the number of gears included in the kids mountain bike you’re looking at.
Q: How does the weight of the bike affect my child’s experience?
The weight of a kids mountain bike will greatly affect new learners, as it’s often difficult for younger children to handle and control the bike if it weighs too much. The bike should weigh approximately half your child’s weight for smooth, easy riding.
Q: Is it better to get a bigger bike for my kid so they can keep using it as they grow?
Having a bike that’s larger than your child’s size can be beneficial in the future, but they may suffer more injuries now, as they likely won’t be able to control it as well and may frequently topple over. It’s better to look for a kids mountain bike with an adjustable seat to ensure that your child isn’t at risk of any unnecessary injuries while riding.