Everywhere I look these days, it’s like lots of kids have decided that stunt kick scooters and electric scooters are cooler than mountain bikes. But if you think kids are going to stop asking for the best kids’ recreational mountain bike as their next birthday gift, think again. Because…not gonna happen.
Also read: How to Buy a Bike for a Kid
The biking universe will always have tough girls and boys who want to stay out of “undemanding” environments such as smooth bike lanes.
We’ll always have ambitious tykes who want to take on bumpy trails, rocky trails, and other technical features with an adult-y determination and attitude. We’ll also always have young ones who want to ride mellow single tracks, flannel shirt flapping in the wind.
Related: Best BMX Bikes for Kids and Teens
Whether your kiddo wants to do technical MTBing or laid-back recreational riding, there’s a decent bike for them. This post lists down the best kids’ MTBs for recreational use and also guides parents through what to check for when buying.
So, let’s roll!
Who Came Out on Top?
*Affiliate Links Disclosure: This website participates in the Amazon Associates program. And as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That said, my opinions are my own.
For bigger and older girls, teenage girls, and petite moms, the Stylish 24″ Mongoose Maxim MTB won. This bike comes with a lightweight aluminum frame and the top tube slopes in a way that makes mounting and dismounting easy.
Assembling is an easy job when the package includes every piece of hardware and tools needed, which isn’t always sadly. But this isn’t a big deal, is it?
For boys, the 24″ Blue Hiland Youth MTB carried the day. It’s not a pro-level ride, but with a few upgrades, it should be rideable and shouldn’t fall apart in a week.
But the ultimate winner was a BMX-style unisex mountain bike, the Mongoose Argus MX Mountain Bike for Boys and Girls. It’s not heavy (but fat-tire bikes are generally clunky, right?), rolls like a dream thanks to its 4.25″ knobby rubber tires.
It’s a single-speed bike (not a fixie to be clear) with minimal complex mechanisms, and if you’re willing to invest in proper brakes, this is hands down the best ride there is.
A Guide to Buying the Best Recreational Mountain Bike for a Child
MTBs aren’t cheap. You want an option that represents the best value for the money. But the best MTB for kids doesn’t just happen. To get the best pick for the $$, there’s a bunch of things you need to know about choosing an MTB. Below is a list of what to keep a watchful eye on when shopping for a kid’s MTB.
Pick the Right MTB Size for Your Kid
When picking an MTB size for a kid, the most important metric is wheel size. Generally, most kids in the age range 8-9 years do well with size 20 kids’ mountain bikes. Kids aged between 9 and 11 years can comfortably ride a size 24 mountain bike. And older kids (12-year-olds) can actually ride adult size mountain bikes (size 26/26ers).
All that said, the most reliable to determine what bike size would work best for a kid is to measure their inseam. Once you get the inseam measurement, match this number with the manufacturer’s bike size chart. You’ll find that the inseam length matches with a certain MTB seat height. If you’re interested in learning in how to size a kid’s mountain bike using inseam length, read this article: How to Choose a Bike a for a Kid.
Note: if you choose to purchase an adult size bike (size 26 or larger), be sure to pick something with the smallest frame size possible. Here’s another thought to keep in mind when buying: More expensive kids’ MTBs are smaller and lighter than the cheapest options out there. For the most part, the cheaper it is, the heavier and clunkier the MTB is and vice versa.
Kids’ Mountain Bike Wheels and Tires
Wheels connect the rider to the ground for traction and motion. If your region snows a lot, you live near some sandy beach, or your kiddo wants a super comfy ride, consider getting them a fat bike.
This is a bike with really fat tires. How wide are the tires of a fat bike? Tire width for fat bikes hovers between 3.7″ and 5″. These tires dampen trail shocks incredibly well and are an awesome choice for all-season trail mountain biking.
The problem with fat tires with deep treads is that they dramatically add to the bike’s weight. And kids and heavy mountain bikes don’t work well together. Fortunately, some MTB brands are making high-volume tires that soak up bumps exceedingly well without being plus-sized.
You may also do a tubeless tire setup for your kid’s MTB, and here’s how to switch from regular tires to tubeless.
Thru-axle MTBs Safer But Pricier
If you have a generous budget, pick a bike with thru-axles rather than a quick-release mechanism. While the QR system releases the wheel immediately for cleaning and maintenance, there’s always the risk of the wheel coming off during challenging technical MTBing.
A thru-axle wheel attachment makes for greater safety because the wheel stays where you want it: on the bike. Also, this wheel attachment works better with disc brakes while also allowing for more accurate bike wheel placement. Downside? Kids’ MTBs with thru-axles are pricier than bikes with quick-release skewers.
Buy an MTB that Syncs with Your Kid’s Riding Style
Think about how your kiddo intends to use the bike. Are they an experienced rider who wants something that can do technical climbs and rocky downhill runs? Or do they want to mostly do pump track mountain biking? Maybe they’re a mostly-riding-for-fun MTBer and will mostly ride at a nearby skills park and on light dirt trails?
Related: How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike
If they’ll mostly play around the skills park or traverse grass-covered and mellow single tracks, consider buying them a good hard tail MTB. Or even a good no-suspension MTB for worry-free outdoor leisure.
What if you live in the hilliest, rockiest part on the planet? Or your kiddo intends to do any kind of technical mountain biking? Get them an option whose gearing, braking mechanism (effective disc brakes please), weight, suspension, and overall bike geometry attunes with their riding style.
Don’t overthink bike geometry when buying a mountain bike for a kid. Just get them a well-fitting ride made from high-quality, lightweight components. However, bike geometry is critical if you’re buying for a seriously technical rider.
You can learn about bike geometry here and how it influences bike handling and ride quality. There, you’ll learn every important geometry-related aspect including fork offset, reach, fork rake, trail, wheelbase, bottom bracket drop, handlebar width, stem length, chainstay length, seat tube length, seat tube angle, and whatnot.
Bike Weight: How Heavy Does a Good Kid’s MTB Weigh?
Bike weight is one of the most critical considerations when buying an adult MTB, but weight becomes even more important when buying a mountain bike for a kid.
Most kids are smaller and lighter than most adults. For this reason, they have trouble riding extremely heavy steel-framed MTBs. When buying a trail bike or other MTB type for a young person, make sure to choose the lightest option in your range.
If you’re looking for a kid’s recreational MTB, get an option that weighs between 22-30 pounds. I’ve seen that there’s tons of casual rides for kids that weigh well over 40 pounds. Now, 40 pounds is pretty heavy bike for most kids.
Here’s what kids do when you buy them a clunky MTB that really taxes their still-developing muscles and bodies: they begin hating their shinny aluminum gift. Soon, they get out for rides less and less. Eventually the kid lets the bulky MTB to gather dust and decay, obviously an outcome no parent wants.
Do this: Get your tyke a light mountain bike, the lightest option you can afford. If this means spending a little more money for a lighter choice, do it.
Kids’ MTB Gears: How Many Gears Should They Be?
A 21-gear kid’s MTB is the best bet for your kid, right? Wrong! While getting more of most things is almost always better than getting less, this doesn’t apply to children’s casual riding mountain bikes. In fact, quite the contrary: the more the gears, the less suitable the bike for use by a kid.
But why are more gears a bad thing when having more gears means more options for setting up multiple powerful gearing ratios?
The trouble with having too many gears is that they necessitate incorporating two derailleurs instead of one. The bike needs a front derailleur and a rear derailleur. But that’s not all. You need two gear shifters on the handlebar. And you know what? Kids aren’t great when it comes to controlling lots of complex mechanisms at once.
Besides, having two derailleurs and gear shifters instead one of each means more bike weight and bike maintenance costs.
So how many gears work best for children? Kids can comfortably handle 6-8 gears. Choose a bike without a front derailleur and gear shifter where possible.
Kids Mountain Bike Suspension: Dual, Single, or Fixed Suspension?
Unless you have the money for a really good dual-suspension kid’s MTB, it’s best to stick to single-suspension mountain bikes aka hard tails.
BTW, a hardtail mountain bike is an MTB that comes with one suspension system instead of two, and this suspension mechanism is found in the front. This bike features a front suspension fork and zero rear suspension. And it’s a great choice for kids and adults learning the ways of mountain trail biking.
The typical kids’ mountain bike comes with really stiff suspension shocks. These shocks increase not only bike weight but also maintenance costs. And this kind of bike is only good for light sidewalk jumps and light dirt trail riding. And please stay away from dirt-cheap MTBs with dual suspension because they’re pretty much BSOs (bike-shaped objects).
If money is tight and all you want is a light mountain bike for light trail riding and no jumps at all, you can get a zero-suspension MTB aka a fixed suspension MTB. This is a no-frills mountain bike that rolls from point A to point B and isn’t designed for performing any kinds of MTB tricks. These are good beginner mountain bikes for kids and adults who haven’t decided if serious mountain biking is for them.
Saddle, Pedals, handlebar Grips
In most cases, you’ll end up replacing the grips, pedals, and saddle. On the typical kid’s MTB, these parts aren’t often high quality and needs replacement down the road. If you prefer a bike that features a fantastic saddle, non-stock saddles, and comfortable, durable grips, be ready to pay more.
Which Drivetrain Style Works Best for Kids
For children, it’s best to go with a 1X drivetrain. BTW, the drivetrain is that bike mechanism that propels it forward. It consists of the chainrings, cranks, chain, pedals, cogs/cassette, and derailleur. Wondering what a 1X MTB drivetrain is? It means that the mountain bike features a rear derailleur, a cassette, and ONLY one chainring in the front of the drivetrain.
As for gear shifters, the best option is a trigger shifter as opposed to a grip shifter. While a trigger shifter is trickier to use, kids find this shifter type easier to handle in the end. Besides, your child gets cleaner gear shifts with this type.
How Much Do Good Quality Kids’ MTBs Cost?
There are lots of children’s mountain bikes that sell for as low as $100. If you’re really strapped for cash and must gift Ryan something that looks like a bike, go ahead and grab a $100-$150 for them. But it won’t last, won’t ride like a dream, and will probably be too heavy for your child.
If you want something with reasonably good components, something that won’t break down all the time, something that won’t need repairs and maintenance every other weekend, be ready to pay between $400-$700. But it is really at the $1,000 price point where good things begin to happen.
Generally, the pricier the kid’s MTB, the lighter it is, the better the components, the more reliable, and the more durable it is. Also, the better the bike rides, and the more your kiddo gets out to ride and socialize with friends or just practice to get better.
Who knows, a better mountain bike for your kid could mean the difference someone who just rides and someone who pushes the limits with confidence and finally becomes a pro.
How Easy Is it to Assemble the Mountain Bike Once It Arrives?
Most bikes bought from Walmart and other big-box stores come semi-assembled. They come in a box, and assuming they put in every part needed to complete the assembly, you’re supposed to handle the assembly yourself.
You may have the tools for the job, but it’s easy to incorrectly adjust the drive-train or the brakes and end up with a somewhat less safe bike.
That said, bikes bought online aren’t too hard to assemble and in some cases putting the bike together takes minutes. If you’re not good enough with your hands and usually rely on bike mechanics to fix most bike issues, make sure to read customer reviews to learn if the bike is easy and straightforward to set up.
Extras Such As Water Bottle/Hydration Pack Mounts, Helmet
Everyone needs to stay hydrated while out battling mountainous trails or when you decide to go out on a bike tour or bike packing with your kid.
So get them a choice that features at least one bottle cage mount, typically located in under-the-top-tube triangle. Some bikes may offer an extra water bottle mount somewhere in the rear triangle or even on the fork.
It’s not common, but some deals may include a bike helmet. Make sure the helmet is safety-certified for riding a bike. Here’s a list of duly certified bike helmets.
Are There Girl’s and Boy’s Mountain Bikes?
Yes and no. Yes because some recreational bikes for children that target girls come with a uniquely designed frame. One design feature that distinguishes girls’ MTBs and boys’ MTBs is top tube position with this tube placed at a lower position on girls’ options.
But in most 20″-24″ children’s mountain bikes, the only real difference between options for boys and those for girls is color haha. You know, the pink for girls and blue for boys stuff. But color means nothing much if you want your kiddo to develop and nurture a non-binary gender identity.
*Good kids’ bikes are expensive. Make sure to keep that pricey piece of metal clean and well-maintained at all times. Here’s how to clean a kid’s/adult’s bike.
5 Best Kids’ Mountain Bikes for Recreational Use
Below is a neat list of 5 choices that work for boys and girls.
1. Mongoose Maxim 24″ Mountain Bike: Best for Girls, Teens & Petite Moms
Mongoose is one of the most popular kids’ bicycle brands out there. And I’d say this company has done a pretty good job with the Mongoose Maxim Girls MTB.
It’s a 24″ girlie-style bike with a frame that was crafted from lightweight aluminum. It’s the lightest choice of all 5 recommendations in my reviews. If you’re wondering how heavy the Mongoose Maxim Girls MTB really is, I emailed Mongoose before purchasing, and they said it weighs 27 pounds.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: the stated 27 pounds is the weight of the frame ONLY. When we assembled the bike, which wasn’t hard to do at all BTW, we found that the assembled bike weighed a whole 36 pounds.
36 pounds might sound like Buick-heavy, and I bet you’ve seen all kinds of listings that state much lower bike weights. But I’ve learned that most companies conveniently (and perhaps deceptively) state frame weight as total bike weight. So this isn’t the heaviest girls’ trail mountain bike you’ve ever seen.
It looks nice as far as color and the way the top tube and down-tube are shaped. The tubes are nicely curved as is the handlebar, and all these design elements make for some serious aesthetic appeal.
The bike you see in the picture above is for anyone who stands 4′ 8″ tall all the way to 5′ 6″ tall riders. It’s for kids and adults in the height range even though it’s described as a kiddo-specific option. I mean, there are many moms out there who are 5’2″-5’6″.
Due to how the top tube curves, your youngster will find it easy to mount on and dismount from this bike. The fit is pretty accurate for riders in the stated height range, and the seat easily adjusts up and down via an easy-to-operate quick-release mechanism.
The brakes work good after adjusting and the SRAM Twist Shifters on this bike work way better than many budget MTBs for kids. It’s a 21-speed bike, which means there are 7 cogs in the rear and 3 chainrings in the front. It took a while before my niece mastered gearing and shifting, but these systems work decently. Still, this isn’t in any way a pro-level ride.
Assembling the Mongoose isn’t a time-consuming process. It took hubby 30 minutes to pop in the front wheel and attach the handlebar and seat as well as air up the tires to 50psi. He also spent another 10 minutes adjusting the brakes. Many parents are able to complete the task in 60 minutes tops.
Mom bought for one of my nieces and sent it to my address. When the package arrived, we expected to find the requisite assembly tools plus all the hardware. But to our surprise, there weren’t any tools, plus there was a missing axle nut which I luckily got from an old bike we have lying around. Plus hubby is the handy type, which means his tool box is full of all kinds of tools needed to complete simple assemblies.
If your daughter doesn’t like seat, definitely get something more comfortable. You may also want to accessorize the bike with fenders and LED reflectors, but you’ll have to take them off when the wet season shows up.
One aspect that makes the Mongoose Maxim Girls MTB different from all the other options reviewed here is that it features dual suspension. At this price point, I didn’t expect amazing suspension system, and I wasn’t disappointed haha. This bike is best suited for just riding around the neighborhood and perhaps light trail MTB and no jumping. Because the shocks aren’t the finest I’ve tested.
- Easy to assemble: pop in front wheel & attach handlebar and saddle
- Dual suspension system
- A nice girlie style and look
- Relatively wide, 24″ rubber tires
- A decent girls’ beginner MTB at a good price point
- Saddle easy to adjust
- Works for kids, teens, and even adults
- Tools not included in some cases
- Shocks not the best quality
2. Schwinn High Timber Youth MTB:Best Disc Brake Pick
If you prefer disc brakes over any other kind of bicycle brakes, the Schwinn High Timber Youth MTB is a worthy bet. Disc brakes tend to give mountain bikers firmer, better controlled stops except in extremely mucky trails.
It’s a 21-speed children’s MTB with quite wide and grippy knobby tires. When I told hubby I was interested to get into mountain biking, he got me a 26er from Schwinn. It was an OK bike, but you couldn’t really call it a real mountain bike.
We had to change a bunch of parts to make it rideable, but it rode well enough to not end up as wall art in the garage. I’ve purchased way better bikes over the years, but we all know better mountain bikes cost an awful lot of money.
But I digress. Back to the kids’ version of the 21-Speed Schwinn MTB with Disc Brakes. A neighbor’s son bought this 24″ bike for their son and asked my man to help set it up. Dude owns a pair of dexterous hands, and he attached the front wheel, saddle, and handlebar in about 30 minutes. He didn’t have to inflate the tires because the tires came already aired up.
No hardware was missing so no time wasted shopping for nuts and stuff like that. But the disc brakes and shifting mechanism needed a bit of pro-level skill to get working perfectly. Our disappointed neighbor had to take the bike to our LBS for a professional tune-up. And that set the back $100, which catapulted the cost of the bike to $300-ish. Not bad considering decent kids’ MTBs are typically found around the $400-$500 range.
But how well did the professionally handled setup perform? The brakes worked as they should and did a good job of keeping our neighbor’s kiddo happy and safe while out riding. As for the twister shifters, they took a bit of getting used to, but they function fine…for a while.
After 6 months of weekend riding on mostly flat ground and easy trails during family MTB, the derailleur broke down. They replaced it, and it’s been working reliably so far. They invested in a good quality derailleur, and hopefully it’ll last many months.
This is a lightweight bike because it has an-aluminum frame. It shouldn’t tire your LO out after riding for a short duration. The crank arms also are aluminum, and so are the pedal studs. But how good are the pedals of this bike?
Some young riders have reported that these pedals fell off constantly and needed tightening each time. Plus the rider lost some bike control when this happened. I had hubby investigate this pedal falling off problem, and he found that over-tightening the pedals caused the issue. Riders tend to tighten the pedals a tad too much, and this can cause stripping in the threads. The crankset is one more component you’ll need to upgrade at some point. Maybe the seat too?
I love that this thing comes in so many colorways so that every little MTBer can get something that matches with their style. Overall, this is an OK buy, and you should be ready for little surprises if you don’t make a few adjustments and at least one upgrade — crank set.
- An affordable bike for light MTBing once an upgrade or two are done
- Disc brakes function effectively after being fine-tuned
- Twist shifters work well after technical adjustments
- Bike available in many color options
- Assembly not hard
- Few upgrades needed to make bike safely rideable
- Pedals can fall off mostly due to over tightening
3. Huffy Kids’ Hardtail Mountain Bike: Best for Young Girls
Is your LO a little girl aged 5-9, stands 44-56″, and can’t wait to join the thrilling world of trail mountain biking? If yes, consider the Huffy Girls’ Hardtail Mountain Bike with a 13-inch steel frame.
This bike features easy-to-use flat pedals and is available in different colors. If your girl prefers pink stuff, this could be a worthy option.
It’s a hardtail bike, which means it features front suspension for shock absorption. Truth be told: this isn’t the smoothest suspension fork I’ve tested, but it’s not horrible either. It tackles small bumps, dips, and even light jumps. Nothing too demanding because the front suspension is pretty stiff.
Its ATB rubber tires measure 20″ in diameter and 1.95″wide. Compared to a fatbike’s tires, 1.95″ tires may seem pretty thin. But they’re wide enough for trail riding. And the knobby exterior boosts traction quite a bit. They seem to be wearing pretty well. We’ll see how long they last with constant use.
The bike boasts a 6-gear Shimano-equipped drivetrain. It’s a X1 drivetrain, meaning there’s only one chainring in the front and one rear derailleur. This simplicity makes handling the bike easier for young girls while cutting weight.
It offers a twist-style shifting mechanism rather than a trigger-style one. Generally, trigger shifters work better for kids compared to twisties, but that’s not to say that twisties are bad.
In fact, twister shifters are pretty common on high-end bikes. And they work nicely when paired with a high-quality hub. It’s just that twisties don’t always work that great on low-end Walmart bikes.
Twist shifters make the handlebar look neater. This mechanism integrates into the handlebars and doesn’t stick out as does a trigger shifter.
What’s more, the best twisties make it possible to swing from a low gear to a high one in a single slick movement while still allowing for single-gear changes. And that’s lovely.
However, some people have trouble moving their wrists to operate a twist shifter. But this is mostly a rider issue rather than a shifter problem. I love how smoothly shifting works especially when twisties are coupled with a good quality hub.
Trigger shifters allow the rider to shift one gear at a time. And this is a good thing when the rider is a kid. But if your kiddo has always been good with their hands, they should be able to operate a grip-style shifter with ease.
Admittedly, the shifting system on this Huffy MTB doesn’t work like a dream. My niece (I bought this for her as a birthday gift) took a while before getting used to the twist shifters on this rig. And shifting back down has proved challenging for her.
We also had trouble adjusting the seat and needed to use a wrench. It’s not a big deal since it isn’t something we need to do each time. Also, my niece wishes the seat was somewhat comfier.
- An affordable beginner hardtail bike for young girls
- Easy assembly
- Reasonably wide wheels with good traction
- X1 Shimano-equipped drivetrain (rear derailleur + one chainring in the front)
- A twist shifter that makes for a cleaner handlebar
- Easy-to-use flat pedals
- Front suspension for a smoother ride
- A cheap beginner bike to test if your LO likes MTB
- Seat not super comfy and requires a wrench to adjust
- Shifting back down not very smooth
- Fork suspension a little stiff
4. Mongoose Argus MX Fat-tire MTB: Best for Rough Terrain
When it comes to buying a beginner mountain bike for a kid who values comfort, a fat bike would be the best choice. A fat-tire mountain bike features really thick knobby tires that float over pretty much anything you throw at them.
It doesn’t matter what your little one wants to conquer, a fatbike conquers all terrains: snowy trails, sandy beachside bike paths, normal mountainside singletracks, regular bike paths, and bumpy gravel and dirt roads.
It’s like your little one is sitting on super soft feathers and riding over cotton clouds. They’re going to be smiling the entire time. I’ve seen the smile, the look on many young faces.
Here’s the thing with the Mongoose Argus MX Fatbike MTB: it owns a set of 2 really fat rubber tires. These tires are 3″ wide, which is pretty wide but not too wide that your 3-year-old LO won’t be able to pedal the thing forward. If your child is 5 or a little older, you can get the 4.25″ option for them, but I bet it’d be too clunky for some.
These wheels grip icy, dirt, and sandy trails like nothing you’ve ever seen. Plus, they tame bumps, cracks, potholes, rooty obstacles, and even rocks so that your child can ride in limitless comfort.
This bike type may not be the lightest, and some can be pretty heavy. But pushing a little more weight isn’t such a bad thing for growing kids with a little fat to burn, right?
The Mongoose Argus MX is a BMX style mountain bike for 3-5 year olds. Like most decent BMX bikes for kids, this Mongoose kids’ MTB comes with an extremely sturdy steel frame. It looks really nice because it’s designed like a BMX bike, and pretty much all kids think that BMX bikes are the coolest bike style ever.
Your kid can play all they want without breaking this frame. And if they ever throw an extreme amount of abuse at the bike and break something, the local welding shop should be able to fix the broken frame. Steel frames are heavier than aluminum ones, but they’re tougher and longer lasting.
This bike has flat pedals, and kids tend to handle flat MTB pedals better than they do clip-in pedals. With flat pedals, they’re able to get their small feet on and on the platform with ease, and there’s no risk they’ll ever get stuck trying to get off the whip.
With the Mongoose Argus MX, there’s no complex drivetrain to mess with. It’s a clean MTB design without a derailleur, shifters, and cogs.
A rear steel caliper brake supposedly makes stopping easy, but does it? It’s an ergonomically designed lever brake that’s not as easy to access and squeeze as others my son’s used. Frankly, the brakes need quite a bit of improvement before I can give this bike a 5* rating. Hubby made adjustments to the brakes, and this made them work a little better but not perfectly. We finally took the bike to our LBS and they fixed the brake issue for good. The brakes haven’t misbehaved once afterward. You can buy it in black or tan — limited color options.
- Fat knobby tires that tackle bumps better than most
- A steel frame that’s built for constant abuse
- Easy to get working
- A rad BMX look many kids like
- A simple drivetrain design that doesn’t intimidate kids
- A wide, comfy seat and adjustable seat height
- A super comfortable ride
- Not cheap, and the brakes don’t always work safely
- Limited color options
5. Blue Hiland 24″ Youth MTB Shimano 7-Speed: Best for Older Boys
If buying for a younger child (under 7), consider choosing the 20″ single speed version of the Hiland MTB. It’s a single-speed bike, which means there’s only one gearing ratio. What this actually means is that there’s no derailleur and no shifting to do. This is a simple, clean bike design that should work fine for most young children.
But for an older child (8-12), you may want to gift them the 24″ Blue 7-Speed Hiland Kids’ MTB. It’s a 7-speed bike with a molded chain wheel that never allows the chain to derail during riding.
Its frame is made from high-tensile steel. It’s super strong and easy to maintain but also pretty substantial. If you’re looking for the lightest kids’ MTB out there, the Hiland 7-Speed isn’t it.
But it’s not like extremely heavy so that kids can’t ride at all. They just have to exert a little extra pedal power to propel this cute iron horse, which isn’t entirely a bad thing.
Some parents received a bike with a warped front wheel though. The wheel didn’t ride smoothly and most decided the bike was completely unrideable due to this problem and sent the bike back.
Well, the one we received didn’t have this problem, but I suppose we were lucky. But this wobbly front wheel issue shouldn’t really surprise anyone. I mean, the folks who put together the parts at the factory aren’t expert bike mechanics. They’re just good people trying their best to earn a living. Can’t blame them.
Even though the weird wheel problem seems to be widespread, Hiland’s Customer Support responds fast and actually addresses whatever concerns the customer might have. In most of the cases, Hiland ended up sending over a replacement bike rather than a new wheel. And this did solve the problem.
Shifting works reasonably well …but only after we paid for some adjustments at our LBS (more on this down below). Here’s one more thing: you need to invest in a good derailleur protector. Falls happen, you know, and a decent derailleur guard keeps this critical component adequately protected.
It’s a 24″ kids’ MTB, but petite adults can ride it if they raise the seat high enough. I like that the top tube slopes steeply on this bike. Most 8-13 year olds can comfortably stand over the bike and get on and off with ease. This boosts confidence.
The saddle is nothing spectacular, but it looks well-made and sturdy. I expect it to last a while. But it could be wider and a tad more comfortable. Not that MTB saddles are expected to be super comfy.
It comes with V-brakes (aka direct pull cantilever brakes). While V brakes aren’t as great as disc brakes when the going gets wet and muddy, they keep costs low. But V-style MTB brakes offer decent braking power in dry conditions. Furthermore, they’re easier to maintain, and you’ll find that installing the provided kickstand is easier with this brake type.
But we had to make adjustments to the brakes to get them working right. We also had someone at our LBS do a bit of tension tweaking to get the gears to shift properly. Well, these adjustments drove the final cost of the bike up significantly. That said, we still ended up with an affordable beginner MTB for our son.
- A nice blue color that many boys would love
- Wide, grippy rubber tires (1.95″)
- Direct-pull cantilever brakes with decent stopping power
- A tough high-tensile steel frame that lasts long
- Top tube slopes at an angle that makes mounting and dismounting easy
- Chainring designed to hold chain in place
- Decent flat pedals
- Not the lightest bike ever
- Front wheel came warped in some cases
- Shifting may need some tweaking
Where to Buy a Good Kid’s Mountain Bike
You can buy kids’ mountain bikes online from Amazon. Or from a big-box store like Walmart. Or from a mass-merchant store such as Costco or Sam’s Club. Bikes sold in these places are usually cheaper than the same models sold in specialty bike stores.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that buying a bike from Walmart and similar places is the best route for everyone. Below are…
6 Good Reasons Buy a Bike from a Big-box Store is a Bad Idea
1. No department store or big-box store offers any kind of technical buying advice to customers.
Often, the folks building bikes at Walmart’s warehouses are generalists rather than specialists. Don’t believe me? Trying asking any of them for kids’ mountain bike recommendations.
Or ask anyone there why bike A would be better than bike B for the kind of terrain your kid will mostly ride on. You won’t get any kind of confidence-inspiring bike advice from them.
And no, I don’t blame those Walmart folks at all. I mean, they’re not dedicated bike mechanics.
But what happens when you buy from a real bike shop? You get serious advice about brands and models and biking gear and a ton of other useful stuff.
Your kid even gets fitted for bike size. They know that guessing bike size by wheel size only isn’t 100% reliable.
They’ll even help set up/assemble the bike for you and fine-tune the brakes and drive-train so you won’t need to. And aren’t the brakes on those cheap Walmart bikes always loose?
2. Even though Walmart bikes are cheaper, you almost always end up upgrading the parts or paying a bike mechanic to fix things. In the end, the cost of the bike + repairs + upgrades surpasses what you’d have paid had you bought from a specialized bike store.
3. The bike warranty is almost always better at specialist shops than at big-box stores.
Well, that Walmart warranty may look generous and all that, but many parents are shocked to find that the seemingly generous big-box store bike warranty covers little if anything at all.
4. Department and big-box stores have no bike-focused service departments.
You buy the bike and go home to set it up. But bike-specific independent stores, there’s always a bunch of handy folks who know everything there is to know about bikes, bike components, and mechanisms. They also know how all these things fit together into a terrific ride that fits extremely well.
Some independent bike stores not only offer 1 FREE mountain bike tune-up, but they also offer free future service plans. Others may charge for any bike service outside of the initial tune-up, but even then, independent bike stores tend to offer personalized treatment to their customer base.
5. Bike replacement parts aren’t always easy to find if you buy from a department store. You’ll likely go to a bike repair shop and pay something like $40-$60 for labor besides buying the broken part.
Buying from a specialized store gives you a properly set-up bike where everything is well assembled from the get-go. For this reason, bike breakages and repairs happen less often, at least initially.
6. Big-box store bikes aren’t known for great quality.
Usually, those $150 Walmart kids’ MTBs and $250 adult MTBs are made from low-quality materials and components. Plus you can still get great deals at independent stores. So why pay for crap?
That said, sometimes the best place to find a great bike deal is online. If you can handle bike assembly and do it right and the price is insanely attractive, why not grab that Amazon deal and see how it goes from there?