Benji and the Singletrack Youth Squad check out mountain bikes for the mini-me riders among us.
Yep. You read it correctly. Kids’ mountain bikes. Parents. You’re welcome! Read and get informed as to what to look for in a proper mountain bike for your sprog.
Non-parents. Don’t skip the next few pages! Think of this review along the same lines as one of those reviews of something esoteric or niche that you will never own, nor want to. Kids’ mountain bikes are some of the most interesting mountain bikes out there. And, let’s be frank here, you are The Cyclist in your family and social circle. Parents are going to ask you about kids’ bikes. Why not be a hero, and up your chances of a better-than-usual Christmas present by actually being informed about the kids’ MTB market options these days.
For the purposes of this test we’ve concentrated on kids’ bike specialist brands. The brands featured here either only do bikes for kids, or their main thing is bikes for kids.
What wheel size does your kid need?
Size is key when getting the best mountain bike for kids. In order of can-be-botheredness, here’s how to browse for the correct size bike for your child…
- 6+ yrs old = 20in wheel
- 8+ yrs old = 24in wheel
- 9+ yrs old = 26in wheel
- 10+ yrs old = 27.5in wheel
- 115–125cm = 20in wheel
- 125–135cm = 24in wheel
- 135–145cm = 26in wheel
- 145cm+ = 27.5in wheel
- 50–60cm = 20in wheel
- 55–70cm = 24in wheel
- 65–75cm = 26in wheel
- 70cm+ = 27.5in wheel
Regarding what to look for in a kid’s mountain bike, what to prioritise etc, the answer is really simple: look for the same stuff you look for in an adult mountain bike.
A mountain bike is a tool. The age or size of the rider doesn’t really affect what makes for a good ride experience. By all means keep an eye on overall weight but also be aware that it is not the be all and end all of mountain bikes. Good geometry, functioning brakes, decent tyres, quality bearings, well-built wheels and wide-range gearing are all more important in the grand scheme of things.
As we mentioned already somewhere in these reviews, we aren’t exactly comparing like-for-like bikes here. Each of the three bikes has a different wheel size. Having said that, all three bikes are essentially available in multiple different wheel size incarnations. As such, you should be able to extrapolate from our reviews about these particular bikes and form some idea as to how their bigger or smaller wheeled siblings compare.
Anyhoo, let’s compare oranges to apples for a while. Just because.
The Early Rider Seeker 20 is a pretty much perfect kid’s bike. It looks ace. It rides ace. It’s tough. Kids don’t think twice about it. They just get on and ride. There’s not much to say about this bike apart from: it is well ace.
The Frog MTB 62 looks… awkward, but that’s just the aesthetic curse of 24 inch wheel bikes. It may not be a contouring sinuous woodland singletrack slayer but for bombing up and down stuff, it was seriously capable. If you’re listening Frog Bikes, great bike, but change the tyres and fit a shorter stem please.
The Islabikes Creig 26 is a serious bike. Which is perhaps its undoing just as much as it’s its raison d’être. While it’s not an out and out cross-country race bike for yelled-at children, it most definitely has more of an eye on the addictive allure of against-the-clock pedal propulsion than… say, doing jumps off a shonky ramp made from two bricks and a plank. That said, a riser bar and a QR seat collar aren’t exactly an unaffordable upgrade (well, if you hadn’t blown your whole budget on a £1,100 kid’s bike).
Perhaps the main thing that is going to be annoying here is… Early Rider doesn’t make bikes with wheels any bigger than 24 inches! This is a real shame as we think a 26 or 27.5 inch wheel Seeker would be extremely rad.
|Tested:||by N/A for Issue 145|