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Kids Mountain Bikes - Fun and Reliability on Any Terrain

Whether the kids want to emulate their parents on a kids mountain bike, hit the trails with friends or get a full-suspension 26" mountain bike for Christmas: Today, you can find almost a wide range of Mountain Bikes for Youth & Kids and matching accessories. The enthusiasm for off-road riding can only be maintained if the weight, geometry, size and components are precisely matched to the child. Of course, the bikes should also look stylish and match the rest of the MTB outfit. Everything you need to know about mountain biking for kids can be found here! Read more

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Table of Contents - Junior Mountain Bikes

Mountain Bikes for Kids and Youth for All Adventures

The first attempts at standing up and riding usually take place either with starter bikes (with or without training wheels) or a balance bike. The latter in particular are becoming increasingly popular with parents, as they give the child an immediate feel for speed and bike control without having to pay direct attention to pedals and brakes. But initial experience pedaling with training wheels can also pay off later and make it easier to switch to a full-fledged children's mountain bike. A single-speed gearbox, chain guard and the choice between V-brake and coaster brake ensure a carefree and safe riding experience.  

At primary school age, depending on the current size, children's bikes and mountain bikes for kids are already available with several gears and some also have suspension forks. Teenagers then get the full range of mountain bikes: hardtails, full suspension, downhill mountain bikes, all-mountain, kids BMX bikes or dirt bikes. The components there are also already of a similar quality to those for adults and offer everything the off-road heart desires.

The Central Part for More Riding Fun on a Kids MTB: The Weight

Even though mountain bikes for children will always remain somewhat heavier than the "big" MTBs as a percentage of their own body weight, the weight is of enormous importance for fun on the bike precisely for this reason. Not only does less flywheel mass make progress uphill much easier, it also has a significant influence on the control of the bike. If the youngsters come home tired and frustrated even faster because the heavy bike moves so badly or can't keep up with their friends, then the joy is quickly gone. "Rigid" mountain bikes without suspension are lighter than those with suspension forks or even with full suspension. The lightest models today weigh a reasonable 8-11 kg, so your child can ride happy.  

Junior Mountain Bikes – The Right Wheel Size

The most important thing when choosing a bike is not to think that you are buying a bike that the kids will grow into. All children should feel comfortable quickly and this can only be achieved with the right size of the wheel and frame, with the height of the top tube being crucial in order to maintain control when riding and dismounting. 💡 A tip: If the little ones also feel safe with larger wheels and do not sit too high above the ground, then they are a great help, especially on long tours in rough terrain, as they can easily roll over roots and stones and thus guarantee more security and stability.  

In the following detailed overview you can estimate which wheel size roughly corresponds to which body size and which inner leg length. The best way to measure the inside leg length is to hold a book between your legs as if you were sitting on it and then press it against the wall, mark it with a pencil and measure it.  

Your child should be able to stand above the top tube and place both feet on the ground with the bar. If you are worried that the bike will quickly become too small, make sure that you still have adjustment options for the seat post and stem or that the components are interchangeable. You should also make sure that your darlings don't sit too stretched out on the bike, as they could otherwise feel too much pressure on their hands and back.  

Wheel Size  Approx. Height  Approx. Inside Leg Length  Approx. Age 
16 Inch  105 – 120 cm  44 – 48 cm   3 – 5 Years 
20 – 24 Inch  115 – 130 cm   48 – 56 cm   5 – 10 Years 

26 – 27.5 Inch 

135 – 160 cm   56 – 64 cm  Over 10 Years 
29 Inch  Over 150 cm  Over 65 cm 

Rigid Forks, Suspension Forks and Shocks – Junior MTBs with Suspension

Mountain bikes with suspension forks and shocks certainly look tempting at first glance. But especially for beginners and if you don't want to race down the most daring trails, an MTB without suspension fork is the most fun, because  

  1. a bike with a rigid fork is usually noticeably lighter than one with suspension, making it easier for the kids to get up the hill 
  2. the kids are often too light to feel much of the suspension anyway 
  3. the unsuspended mountain bike trains the riding technique (correct weight shifting & choice of lane)  
  4. vibrations can also be absorbed by wide tires with less air pressure and thus offer even more grip at the same time. 

If the boys and girls already have experience with an MTB or BMX and feel safe on all trails and are keen to shred, then a mountain bike with a suspension fork is certainly a sensible investment. To be able to race over roots and stones and land your first jumps. You should keep in mind that: 

  1. a better suspension fork is usually lighter and offers better adjustment possibilities for spring preload (air chamber) and rebound, which is especially important for children & young people with low body weight 
  2. a suspension fork makes braking more effective, as it gives your bike more grip 
  3. children can benefit from a suspension fork on long rides because they are less concerned with bumps and keeping control.

A full suspension youth mountain bike is the right bike for kids and teenagers if they are constantly throwing themselves into downhills anyway, flying over drops or absolutely want to go to the bike park. Of course, there are a few things you should bear in mind here too:  

  1. Full suspension bikes are usually much heavier due to the suspension fork and shock  
  2. it is best to invest in high-quality, lightweight and individually adjustable shock absorbers 
  3. air suspension is the easiest way to adjust to new loads 
  4. suspension fork and shock should be matched to each other and should have a lockout function (prevents bouncing, which is crucial especially on climbs to avoid wasting too much energy).  

Braking with Children's Hands on the MTB

It should come as no surprise that brakes are one of the most important components on an MTB. Even the smallest ones should learn to get a feeling for braking distance and braking behaviour. When your offspring has left the coaster brake behind, it is first of all an adjustment to suddenly brake only with the hands. It is therefore crucial that the brake levers are adapted to children's hands. Even the handlebars should have the right diameter so that they have a firm grip on them and can ideally activate the brake levers with just a few fingers. The brake levers should:  

  1. be ergonomically easy for children to grasp and reach without the risk of slipping off 
  2. be activated by relatively light pressure without having to pull the brake lever to the handlebars. 

Even with mountain bikes for kids, the question between rim brakes and disc brakes is more than relevant. For the first trips into the forest, V-brakes are certainly a good option, as they are light and easy to maintain. However, as soon as the terrain becomes more complicated or the tricks more daring, you can hardly avoid hydraulic disc brakes. They offer optimal braking power without requiring much hand pressure. 

Shifting Made Easy – 1-Speed on a Mountain Bike for Kids

On entry-level bikes you will often find rotary shifters that can be operated with the whole hand on the handlebars and thus require less attention than gear levers. However, the latter are somewhat easier to operate on demanding trails and are therefore always standard on MTBs for young people. It is not only with adults that the advantages of a 1-speed drivetrain have meanwhile become established here. Easier shifting options, less weight and less maintenance and care can hardly be denied.  

Dropperposts Are the Better Seatposts for Children Too

Dropperposts (also called Vario seatposts) are lowerable seatposts that allow you to raise and lower the saddle at the touch of a button on the handlebars. This gives you: 

  1. a good seating position on straight stretches and climbs to be able to put a lot of power on the pedals
  2. enough space on downhills to shift the body and keep the optimal balance 
  3. fewer problems getting on and off the bike. 

Suitable Cranks and Pedals Ensure Smooth Revolution

Children not only have shorter legs, but also narrower hips. That's why children's MTBs should have cranks that are adapted to their anatomy. If the crank is too short or too long, it becomes much more difficult to transmit power properly. One rule says that the crank length should be about 10 % of the body height. And the distance between the left and right crank (Q-factor) should also be adapted to the hips of boys and girls. Constantly pedaling with your legs in the wrong position quickly leads to unnecessary knee pain.  

Especially when mountain biking on challenging trails, a lot of ground clearance is a factor to consider so that you don't touch the ground with your pedals. You can achieve this with a high bottom bracket, suitable crank lengths and the right pedals on which the little ones have a firm footing without the pedals protruding too much.