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Your Guide To The Best Kids Mountain Bikes

You love mountain biking, and you want your kids to love mountain biking too.  There’s no better feeling than ripping some singletrack with your favorite little person or seeing the smile on their face when they make it to the bottom of a technical descent.

(Or maybe you don’t mountain bike, but it’s something your child has taken an interest in. If that’s you, don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you need to know to pick a good mountain bike).

One of the biggest factors in how much enjoyment your kids are going to get out of mountain biking is how well their bike performs.  No, it doesn’t have to be the fanciest or most expensive mountain bike to be fun, but it does need to be lightweight, fit properly, and work well.

In this article, we’ll share our favorite BRANDS making youth mountain bikes, our top picks by size, and what you should consider when shopping. Also, don’t miss our lists of the best bike helmets for kids and our favorite knee and elbow pads for kids.

prevelo zulu three 20 inch mountain bike

Table Of Contents

Best Kids Mountain Bike Brands
Best Kids Mountain Bikes By Size
Dirt Jumpers
Electric Mountain Bikes
How To Choose A Kid Mountain Bike
Where To Shop

First, A Note On Budget

We get lots of parents who look at this list and FREAK OUT when they see the prices. These are real mountain bikes, for real mountain biking, and have price tags that match.

If you’re not ready to invest in a high quality mountain bike for your child, we get that. Rather than buying a “budget” mountain bike with sub-par components, consider a regular kids bike instead. Many quality “neighborhood” bikes have knobby tires that will work great for mellow dirt paths and even the pump track.

Sound more like what you’re looking for? Check out this article instead: Best Kids Bikes: How To Choose, Reviews, & More!

Best Kids Mountain Bike Brands

Over several years of testing and reviewing kids bikes, we’ve discovered that the BEST kids bikes are generally produced by kid-specific companies.  They’ve put the time, investment, and engineering dollars into focusing on what really makes a bike good for children. 

This holds true for youth mountain bikes as well.  There are a handful of brands creating fantastic mountain bikes for kids and they take the top spots on this list.

That said, we’ve been pleased to see some of the big bike brands recognizing the increase of young riders in the sport and improving their offerings.  While we still think the big brands lag behind, they do have some legitimate options, especially on the more affordable end of the spectrum. 

trailcraft blue sky 20 in action

What follows is a list of what we consider the BEST mountain bike brands for kids bikes.  Many of these brands offer bikes across multiple sizes. 


Trailcraft takes our top spot.  This kid-specific mountain bike company produces truly exceptional bikes for young riders. 

These are the bikes you would want to be riding if you could go back in time and be a kid again.  Trailcraft calls their offering “category-leading bikes” and we agree.

They offer 20″, 24″, 26″, and 27.5″ hardtail and full-suspension offerings.  Their bikes are super lightweight and can be built with custom component packages. 

And although it’s less important, we also like the bright color schemes.

Read Our Reviews: Trailcraft Blue Sky 20, Trailcraft Maxwell 24


The Prevelo Zulu line offers real mountain bikes for even the youngest riders.  Even the 14″ Zulu One has disc brakes and knobby tires–one of the only bikes with these features in this size.

On the larger end of the spectrum, we’ve been super impressed by the Zulu Thee (20″), Zulu Four (24″) and Zulu Five (26″). These bikes come with top-notch components including an adjustable air fork, Mircoshift Advent X derailleur with clutch, and thru-axles.

The bikes have also recently been updated with internal routing for a dropper, tubeless ready wheelset, and an even lighter build. Aside from the custom built Trailcraft, these are the lightest stock kids mountain bikes around.

Read Our Reviews: Prevelo Zulu Three HEIR, Prevelo Zulu Five


Spawn has long had a strong-hold amongst families that mountain bike.  Their smallest bikes are off-road worthy, but their true mountain bikes start at 20.”  Whether you are looking for a cross-country bike or a serious downhill rig, Spawn has something to offer. 

The coolest thing Spawn has going is their convertible wheel sizes on the Rokk line. The geometry is adjustable to accept two different wheel sizes, letting the bike grow with your child.

We also appreciate that they’ve developed Brood, their own quality in-house line of components.  In fact, their Brood tires are so good we even recommend them to parents who have other brands of bikes.

Read Our Reviews: Spawn Yogi, Spawn Rokk 20, Spawn Yama Jama 22, Spawn Yama Jama 24, Spawn Rokk 26/27.5


The Woom OFF line of kids mountain bikes provides the best bang for your buck around. They are super lightweight and come in at unbeatable prices.

These bikes also provide high-quality components like hydraulic disc brakes, high-volume Schwable tires, and thru-axles. The Woom OFF sports a rigid carbon fork, while the Woom OFF AIR offers a high-quality air-sprung suspension fork.

Finally, if your looking for a mountain bike with an electric assist, the Woom UP offers your best bet in the U.S. market.

Read Our Reviews: Woom OFF & OFF AIR, Woom UP


Of all the larger bike manufacturer’s, Commencal has probably done the best job of building quality kids mountain bikes, particularly in the gravity category.  We also appreciate that they offer a 5-year warranty, which is probably way longer than your kiddo will fit on the bike.

In the smaller sizes (14″ and 16″), Commencal offers the Ramones with a rigid fork, burly tires, and disc brakes. In sizes 20″ and up, they have the Commencal Meta HT which is a hard-charging hardtail and the full suspension Clash.

These bikes are a little heavier than other options on this list, but they are well suited for downhill and shuttle riding. If you have a super shreddedr, Commencal should be high on your list.

Read Our Review: Commencal Ramones 14

Early Rider

Early Rider creates beautiful bikes for bike snobs. Their brushed aluminum frames turn heads and the their component builds keep kids turning pedals. Expect to find high-quality components from brands like Ritchey, SRAM, and Maxxis.

Early Rider offers three different mountain bikes: the Seeker (14″ to 24″), Hellion (16″ to 24″) and Hellion X (20″ and 24″). The Seeker is a lightweight, fully rigid trail bike with knobby, high volume tires while the Hellion and Hellion X are better suited for bike park riding. The Hellion has the geometry of a dirt jumper but can also be used as a trail bike, and the Hellion X is a full suspension rig meant for heading downhill.


The recently redesigned Cleary Scout comes in three sizes: 20″, 24″, and 26″. We appreciate the modern geometry and appropriately sized components. The frame also includes internal routing in case you’d like to add a dropper.

While the Scout is Cleary’s only true mountain bike, even their smaller size bikes are well suited for riding off-road. The tiny 12″ Cleary Gecko is the very first bike our son ever rode singletrack on, and the Cleary Meerkat is an ideal bike for gravel roads and bikepacking. All have durable parts and knobby tires.

Read Our Review: Cleary Scout, Cleary Gecko, Cleary Hedgehog, Cleary Meerkat

Other Kids Mountain Bikes

While these didn’t make our best of list, they are also worth taking a look at.

  • Specialized – The new Specialized Riprock Expert 24 is a great entry-level hardtail.
  • Trek – The Trek Precaliber is a popular and affordable (though heavy) kids mountain bike.
  • Mondraker – High quality bikes including hardtails, full suspension, and electric.
  • Meekboyz – High-end downhill bikes for young riders.
  • Frog – Lightweight 24″ and 26″ hardtails. Each of their models has Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano drivetrain, and Kenda tires.
  • Propain – These European kids bikes are now available in N. America! These are high-end mountain bikes with top of the line components and child-appropriate slack geometry.
  • Transition – Limited kids offerings, but the Transition Ripcord 24 is one of our favorite 24″ full suspension mountain bikes.
  • Norco – Norco was making some fantastic kids mountain bikes, but recently scaled back their offerings. If you’re in the market for a 24″ bike, the Fluid is still an available option.
  • Chromag – The Minor Threat is a very expensive little downhill bike, but it’s really sweet.
  • YT – The Jeffsey comes in a 24″ version.
  • Polygon – The Polygon Siskiu 24 is a great budget 24″ full suspension option.

Best Youth Mountain Bikes by Size

Looking for some specific bike recommendations for your child?  Here are our favorite kids’ mountain bikes, broken down by size and bike type.

Does your child need a 12″ or 14″ mountain bike?  There are fewer true mountain bikes in these size offerings. 

Spawn, Prevelo, Commencal, and Early Rider offer smaller size mountain bikes, and Woom, Cleary, Islabikes, and Pello all make bikes that while not “mountain bikes” are durable and capable for off-road riding for younger kids.

Best Kids Dirt Jumpers

norco youth rampage kids dirt jumper

While most kids will be best suited by a trail bike, if your kiddo is really into dirt jumping, then a dirt jump specific bike is where it’s at. These mountain bikes have a smaller frame, low seat height, and no front brake. Perfect for flying high.

Read: 5 Best Kids Dirt Jumpers

Kids Electric Mountain Bikes

climbing on the woom up

Most kids don’t NEED an e-assist on their mountain bike, but they can be rad. In our family, for instance, we use the Woom UP for big alpine rides where there’s no way our son could go as big or as hard without one.

Read: Best Kids Electric Bikes

Things To Consider When Choosing A Kids Mountain Bike

If you’re new to the world of mountain bikes, this guide will help you know what you’re looking for when shopping for a mountain bike for your child. And even if you’re a bike geek, you might want to do a quick one over.


Unlike adult bikes, kids bikes are sized by the size of their wheels. If you’re not already familiar with kids bike sizes, and which size bicycle your child needs, make sure to check out our guide to kids bike sizes before moving on.

Note that older kids (11 or 12 and up) CAN fit on an adult sized mountain bike but you’ll want to look for an extra-small frame.

technical riding on the trailfcraft maxwell 24


A good quality mountain bike is NOT cheap. If you’re looking at the bikes on this list and panicking about the price, consider what type of riding your child is doing.

Do they need a REAL mountain bike? Many kids will do well on a more robust neighborhood bike like those by Cleary. These bikes can be ridden on mellow singletrack and rail trails without the need for a suspension fork or expensive components like thru-axles.


Weight, in particular, is a huge differentiator in terms of how well a bike is going to perform for a child. Many kids mountain bikes are HEAVY; like, heavier than your mountain bike. 

And your kids weigh a lot less than you do which means the bike-weight to body-weight ratio is way off.  If your child is on a kids mtb that weighs too much they are probably going to get tired quickly, frustrated easily, and may give up on the sport altogether.

My advice is always to get the lightest bike you can possibly afford.

woom off air in action

Type Of Riding

What kind of mountain biking is your child going to be doing? Are they riding smooth, mellow singletracks? Hitting the pump track at your local skills park? Tackling technical climbs and rocky descents? Or, visiting the lift served bike park?

For riding green trails and goofing around at the skills park, a hardtail (or even a rigid) mountain bike will be fine. For kids that live in the mountain west with big climbs, weight and gearing should be serious factors when choosing a bike. For families doing shuttle rides or lift served riding, weight becomes less important but high quality suspension (even full suspension) becomes key.

There are too many scenarios to go thru them all here, but take some time to seriously consider the type of riding your family will be doing before buying a bike.


There are three types of brakes you’ll find on kids mountain bikes: hydraulic disc brakes, mechanical disc brakes, and old fashioned v-brakes.

V-brakes are the cheapest option and are found on entry-level mountain bikes. They don’t have the same stopping power as disc brakes, but can be an economical and low maintenance option particularly for families doing mellow trail riding.

Mechanical disc brakes are the next step up. They have better stopping power than v-brakes but are also fairly low maintenance.

disc brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes are the most expensive option and what you’ll find on top of the line kids mountain bikes. They allow for better modulation and superior stopping power, and they are also easier for little hands to pull and operate. That said, they can be cost prohibitive for some and require more expensive maintenance.

Whichever type of brake you choose, the most important thing is that the brake levers are sized appropriately for small hands and that they are easy to reach and to pull.

Fork and Suspension

In terms of suspension, you’ll find three types of kids mountain bikes: fully rigid bikes, hardtail bikes (those with a front suspension forks), and bikes with full suspension (those with a suspension fork AND rear shock).

The benefit of a rigid fork is that it’s lightweight. Compared to cheaper suspension forks found on many kids bikes, a rigid fork can save POUNDS. We’d always recommend a rigid fork over a cheap suspension fork.

If you do opt for a fully rigid bike, you may want to look for one with a carbon fiber fork. This can help absorb some of the chatter from the trail without adding weight.

A fully rigid bike is the best choice for families who are on a tight budget OR who are riding very smooth trails or gravel roads.

Most kids will be best served by a mountain bike with a suspension fork. Note, however, that it’s only worth buying a bike with a suspension fork if it’s a high quality air-sprung suspension fork.

As I already mentioned, cheap suspension forks are HEAVY and are nearly impossible for lighter weight riders (aka kids) to compress. They look cool but are otherwise worthless.

A good quality air sprung suspension fork (like the Manitou Junit) can add a bunch of comfort for kids riding rocky, rooty, or otherwise technical trails. A hardtail mountain bike is the best choice for families doing bigger trail rides or for kids in mountain bike camps or clubs.

Finally, a full suspension mountain bike can be a good choice for bigger tackling hard trails or for any kiddo who has taken a liking to lift-served or downhill riding. If your child is riding solely downhill, weight isn’t as important but a light-ish bike can still make it easier to catch air and for your child to handle. If your child is using the bike for trail riding with big climbs, paying more for a lightweight bike will make a huge difference in their enjoyment and ability.

Gearing And Drivetrain

For kids mountain bikes, we prefer 1x drivetrains. This means there is a single chain ring up front and a rear derailleur and cassette in back. This is much simpler than the front derraileur setups of old.

The most important thing you’ll want to look for when shopping for a kids mountain bike is the range of gearing and how high the bike is geared. This can be measured by other a gear ratio (simplest) or a gain ratio (more complicated).

If you live in a mountainous area this is more important than if you’re a flat lander. We appreciate companies (like Trailcraft) that allow you to pick the front chainring size that will work best for where you live.

The best kids mountain bikes will have a rear derailleur with a short cage and a clutch. These features are particularly important if your child is riding more technical terrain.

Finally, consider the shifter. For mountain biking, we much prefer a trigger shifter to a grip shifter. It may take your child a bit longer to get the hang of, but they’ll get much cleaner shifter shifts and the trigger shifters are usually easier for small hands to operate as well.

Wheels and Tires

Remember how I said how important weight is? Well, rotational weight (aka wheels and tires) is even more important.

A lightweight wheelset is a good place to start. We also like to look for wheels that are tubeless compatible, though this is a bit more geeky than you’re ready for.

The tires are important too. While we like a nice high volume tire, there is such a thing as a tire that’s too fat.

We’re not a big fan of the trend in the last few years to make kids mountain bikes with plus-sized tires. Although this can add some extra cushion, it also adds a lot of weight!

Look for a bike with a tire (like the Vee Crown Gem or Schwable Rocket Ron) that are high volume but not plus-sized.

woom OFF tires

When looking at wheels, you may also notice that some bikes have thru-axles rather than the traditional quick-release skewer. These add additional stability and safety.

You won’t find thru-axles on more entry-level mountain bikes, but you will on more expensive bikes. They become more important the more aggressive the riding your child is doing.


The appropriate geometry of a kids mountain bike again comes down to the type of riding they are going to be doing.

In general, we like mountain bikes that have more modern, slack geometry and a long wheelbase. This makes the bike more forgiving and instills confidence in kids.

Still, if your child is more focused on racing or is riding fast, smooth trails, you may want to look for a frame with more aggressive geometry instead.

Other Stuff

We’ve touched on all the biggies, but here are a few things you may want to consider as well.

  • Crank length. We see way too many kids bikes with cranks that are too long. For more information on what an appropriate length is for your child, click on one of our articles on best kids bikes by size above.
  • Dropper post routing. A dropper post can be HUGELY helpful for kids while mountain biking, especially if you live in an area with a lot of big climbs and descents. Only a few kids mountain bikes come with a dropper post installed but others will have internal routing in case you want to install one yourself. If you think you might want to add a dropper, definitely look for this feature.
  • Pedals. With a few notable exceptions, most kids mountain bikes ship with cheap, stock pedals. If that’s the case on the bike you pick, plan on upgrading your child’s bike with a better pair of pedals later on.
  • Saddle and grips. There are only three touchpoints on the bike–the saddle, the grips, and the pedals. Like pedals, saddles and grips are often something you’ll want to upgrade later on.
  • Bosses for water bottles or racks. Does your child ride with a hydration pack or with a water bottle? If the latter, then make sure the bike you’re eyeing has mounts for a bottle cage. Additionally, if you want to do some bikepacking or touring with the bike, you may want to look for additional bosses on the fork or rear triangle.

Where To Shop For A Kids Mountain Bike

Ideally, you’ll buy your child’s mountain bike at a local bike shop where they can demo the bike before purchasing. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Many of the best kids mountain bike brands (Trailcraft, Woom, etc) ONLY sell their bikes direct to consumer. So you won’t find one in a local bike shop at all.

If you do want to buy from a local shop, look for a dealer that sells good kids mountain bikes (like Norco or Commencal). With a few exceptions, we’d stay away from brands like Trek and Giant as they’re kids mountain bikes aren’t on par with the better brands.

Finally, you could also consider shopping for a used mountain bike. Our best luck doing this online is via the Pinkbike Classifieds. Talking to other families at the pump track or bike park is another good way to find a good quality mountain bike that might be coming up for sale soon.

More Reading

About Us

The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.

Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.

If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!

35 thoughts on “Your Guide To The Best Kids Mountain Bikes”

  1. 8,000.00$$…that’s a bit excessive for a child’s mtb. They are not pro’s. Just looking for a safe MTB that will allow my child to cycle down a mountain and trails.

    • Some kids ARE pros. 😉 That said, there are plenty of options on here that cost under $1k. Good budget options include Frog, Cleary, Scott, Trek, etc….If those still aren’t in your budget, I would check out local bike swaps, FB swap and sell groups, etc. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get your child a decent mountain bike.

    • You think so, but thats not always the case. My 4 year old has his own pump track, we live beside one of the local trail systems which we hot lap on weekdays and we do lift access downhill on the weekends. So different strokes for different folks.

  2. My son wants a mountain bike for Christmas. I want to surprise him with one and not take him to a bike store so I am going to need to guess on size. What is the best way to find the right size for my little guy…who is 12 but on the small side.

    • Hi Pam, the best thing to do is measure him. Once you know his height (in inches) you can make an educated guess. The table in the post should help: He is going to be somewhere between a 24″ bike or a 26″ (XS adult bike). Once you have narrowed it down to a few bikes you are interested, you can also look at the size charts on their websites. Most of them should tell you the suggested height range for the bike. Hope that helps!

  3. Hi,
    What about Transition’s? I feel the Spawns are one of the best kids specific bikes going. But the price point and the only buying direct from Spawn turns people away. Regardless. Every time they put the Christmas sale on the Katori 20’s they are gone within hours! Overall, I think your list is great. And nice job on mentioning the UK brands. As far as dirt jumping. Europe and BC have it on lockdown. US has yet to embrace the full dirt jump laydown. Similar to 4x. And in my opinion, 4x and dirt jumping will put USA BMX out of business withing a week. hahaha!

    • Hi Radgar,
      Thanks for the kind words! We did include the Transition Ripcord on our list of 24″ mountain bikes, and it’s a sweet little bike! Just didn’t include Transition here, since they have such a limited offering for kids…..As far as dirt jumping goes, I totally agree. Our son and all the other kids we know, totally gravitate to the dirt jumps. In fact, I’ve had to step up my jumping game to try and keep up with the kids

    • Agreed! Seems like a sport that should be affordable for all but clearly not. What about families that want to buy their kid a nice mountain bike but can’t afford it. 80% of the general population can’t afford these price tags. I’m curious how much it costs to make these bikes? meaning how much is the markup.

      • The profit margins in the cycling industry are very slim. Local cycle shop owners I ride with barely make anything off selling especially the big-ticket items!

  4. My son is 4’2″, and quite slow growing. Odds are he’ll be on a 24″ bike for 5 years or more. Looking for a lightweight, quality bike for neighborhood rides and a bit of light trail. Been looking at something like the Rocky mountain vertex 24, but open to suggestions. Hoping for hydraulic brakes and 8+ speeds. Not tied to a front suspension, and willing to go without to save a few pounds. Thoughts?

  5. Any way to change the Commencial Meta HT 24 to a 140mm crank easily?

    Also, how are the rims on this bike? Would you downsize the tire to a 2.35?

  6. The weight of the bike seems important to me. But honestly how heavy is too heavy?
    My 6 yr old is ready to upgrade to a mountain bike; and not being able to test ride is making it tricky. He is very athletic so I’m sure he can manage most any properly sized bike, but I’m still without a clear anchor.
    So I’m going by best deal for a lightweight bike he can trail ride.
    Any other main considerations? Tips?

    • I have read a lot of reviews/ recommendations…. I will check out some of the links. Can you suggest you top 2 picks for a solid dirt jumper for a 7 year old boy who rides hard! Budget around 1k. This is new to us, dad does some mountain biking but not dirt jumping 🙂 Want to make sure we get a decent bike that will last and maybe if it survives hand it down to his brothers !!

  7. I want to buy a mountain bike for my son. He is 12 years old and 5.2″. My budget is $300 can anyone suggest me what mountain bike will be best in this budget. I researched many sites but I can’t find the best mountain bike. Suggest me some best mountain bike.

  8. hi this is Harvey I’m 10 and looking for a duel suspension and found one on this web its called the lil shredder and don’t know how much it is cuz I can’t seem to find the price thanks if you can tell me the price of the sick bike.

  9. Any thoughts or experience/use with BikesDirect bikes? I’m somewhat of a noob, looking for something for my 8 year old, but not wanting to spend $500 if I can avoid it. They seem to have mixed reviews, but are better than Walmart bikes.

  10. Never mind, looks like I had missed your “Best “Bang For Your Buck” Bikes”, until just now. Those look like some solid choices. FWIW, I have a co-worker who’s had multiple decent experiences with BikesDirect bikes. But marketing and questionable parts quality has me looking elsewhere.

    • Glad you found the right section! We’ve also had some experience with Bike Direct bikes and have about the same impression as you do. Definitely a step up from big box store bikes though!

  11. thoughts and suggestions on conversion bikes? my 9 yr old son’s coach told him to get a 24/26 mtb. he has outgrown his 20″

    • Hi Malcolm!
      Convertible wheel sizes are great, there just aren’t many bikes that are designed for them. The Spawn Yama Jama or Spawn Rokk are 24/26 compatible.


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