From balance bikes to proper mini superbikes, kids’ bikes have come a long way. So many options out there. We’ll try and help you navigate that minefield by publishing this article – How to Choose A Kids Mountain Bike. So you like the right bike for your little person.
Kids’ bikes these days are so good; it makes me see the with jealousy. Back in my day, you road a heavy BMX, your brakes that didn’t work, and that was that but arguably, getting the right. kids’ bike is more important than getting the right one for a grown-up.
The fitment, comfort, and usability of the bike will make a big difference in how capable. it is on proper terrain but also it’ll make a massive difference to how much the kids actually enjoy riding them and if you’re watching this. You’re probably into riding bikes yourself, so you want the kids to ride it, love it, and get hooked. So for this article, we’ve teamed up to talk you through the ins and outs when buying a mountain bike, what you can get and what you need to consider.
Let’s start then…..
Kids Bike Sizes:
Before we get into the sizing, the features, and much more, the first thing to remember, is that riding a bike should be fun. Of course, the same for the kids. The bikes shouldn’t be a struggle to ride. They shouldn’t be heavy, ill-fitting, too big, have adult-size components, or even heavy gearing on them. If they are, it could mean that your kids aren’t going to enjoy riding them as much as they. Otherwise would.
So, let’s get started.
Contrary to what many people believe, age doesn’t determine the size of the bike, height does. Just like it does for you and me and most kids’ bike brands will help you navigate their range based on height rather than age. Getting the right-sized bike for your child is really important of course. So your child can ride confidently and comfortably. It’s important to be able to get both feet on the ground. So kids can develop their skills quickly and have a lot of fun.
Here’s how you can measure up.
Measure the height:
Gets your child standing in their socks against the wall with their back straight and their heels on the ground, Put a book on their head so it touches the wall. Mark with a pencil where the bottom of the book touches the wall. Measure from the mark up to the floor then match their height with the manufacturer’s recommended sizes on their website to make sure they’re safe and comfortable.
Measure the Inseam:
Some brands also use the inside leg measurement to help size your kid’s bike correctly. Again, get your child to stand in their socks against the wall with their back straight. Place a book between their legs as if they were sat on a saddle. Move your child away from the wall and measure from the floor to the top of the book.
It can be really tempting to buy a bike that’s too big for your child so they grow into it but there are two real reasons to try and avoid that.
The first one is that having a bike that’s too big is going to be harder to handle, also even getting on and off of things will be more difficult.
The second reason is that many bike manufacturers, Commencal included, have designed the range with different sized wheels. so you can leapfrog one. So, they got the Ramones 14, 16, and a 20. You can go straight for the 14, miss out the middle on, and go to the 20.
Designed bikes that grow with the child:
Some bike brands even design bikes that grow with the child. So, armed with this info, get on to the manufacturer’s website and look for the bike that fits, which brings us on to different types of bikes. You’ve got balance bikes, starter bikes, kids’ mountain bikes, and junior mountain bikes. Commencal’s range is fully-focused on the off-road 100% mountain bikes from the 12-inch balance bikes down there, up to 14 and then you’ve got 14, 16, 20, and 24starter mountain bikes on to the junior mountain bikes. Proper hardtails again, 20, 24, and 27.5 and then look at these bangers. Proper full suspension trail bikes, 20, 24, and 27.5 wheel options.
Ergonomics and geometry:
There are plenty of parents. They use their kids to help develop these bikes and they say that they concentrate a lot on the ergonomics and geometry of the bikes to make sure they’re great for off-road riding. Other kids’ bikes are available, things like E-bikes, road bikes, and all-purpose bikes. Whichever, type of bike you go for, there are some key hallmarks that mark this bike out as different from a bicycle-shaped object and proper kids’ mountain bike.
Lightweight frames and components :
The first one is lightweight frames and components. Lighter means an easy and more effortless and fun ride. Aluminum is king for kids’ bikes, Ergonomics for kids. So there are plenty of components that are really designed around kids, things like the smaller down to bars; check that out, shorter reach brake levers. So little hands can reach them, shorter cranks, and a narrow Q factor. so the pedals are closer together, all make up a bike that is designed for kids to ride comfortable and confident geometry. So kids’ bikes are designed to be more upright just. So they’re not stretched out as much. It’s more comfortable. Also, low-bottom brackets have a center of gravity that makes the bike super stable.
No need for pedals when you’re this young kid on balance bikes can just use their feet, scoot along and really get used to riding a bike and that balance also, when they get a bit better, they can start putting their feet upon. That little platform. designed for the sort of two to three-year-olds.
There are also different wheel-size options here if you fancy it. 12 or 14 inch Balance bikes actually sort of taking away the need for a kids’ bike with stabilizers ’cause kids will learn how to ride on a balance bike, learn how to lean into corners, and things like that. So, hopefully, when they go to pedals, it should be a bit easier as well.
Narrow bars, upright position, actually, this bike got knobbly tires and, if you really fancy doing it, you can stick a disc brake on the back.
Set the saddle height so that the kid’s feet are flat on the floor, still with a bit of bend in the knee.
There are even a balance bike world championships out there, you need to check out. Expect to pay somewhere between the range of 80 to 200 dollars for a brand new balance bike.
Balance bikes versus bikes with stabilizers or training wheels.
Many people now go straight to balance bikes. They are great for getting kids to learn how to make speed with their feet and balance on a bike. Whereas stabilizers do help kids get up to speed quicker and they can get used to pedaling and go faster. If you think that’s a good thing, but then you’ve got that massive leap of faith. When you take your stabilizers off and the kid has to do it all for themselves. So, nowadays you’ll probably find that most people tend to go towards balance bikes.
I think they’re a great way of kids learning how to fall off a slow speed as well. Inevitably they will start to go fast these things, so you might think about then sticking a brake on it. Although I have heard from some parents that their kids love their balance bike so much they’re reluctant to start pedaling, but every kid’s different.
Now, on to the starter bikes.
These are the first bikes you’ll find with pedals on them. They’ll be single speed for simplicity so kids don’t have to learn about gears at the same time. Also, with an upright position so kids aren’t scrunched up and they can see where they’re going with saddle height.
Now, you need to get the kid sat on the saddle with one foot on the floor, and with the pedal in the bottom, make sure the knee is slightly bent, but make sure they can really touch the floor confidently. Most of these bikes will have a chain guard to make sure that is all hidden away. Away from interested fingers where kids might start putting them. Also, many brands will have a larger version.
So this is the Ramones 14 Commensal, we got the Ramones 16 as well. So a bigger frames, bigger wheels, same simplicity.
Now go to your local hardware, superstore, or even supermarket and you’ll probably see some very bright, stick-it-up cartoon themed bikes, or at least they look like bikes, but they’re actually bike-shaped objects. When you see a proper kids’ bike from a proper manufacturer, you’ll see a massive difference. You’ve got aluminum frames and components that will make the bike much more capable. The uses of proper kid’s components that are designed specifically to suit the ergonomics are the real hallmark of a proper kid’s mountain bike.
Now It can say that the cockpit is really important suits more hands, things like bars, the size of those, the levers, the grips, and the shifts. it’s all designed to make it really usable by kids.
Contact points, the saddle, handlebars, and grips should be the right size for little bodies. In the case of bars and grips that means having a smaller diameter so that little hands can get a grip. They shouldn’t be cut down at odd-sized parts. Brakes should be designed specifically to be closer to the bars for a shorter reach. Some will have a noticeably lighter action too, making braking almost effortless for little hands. Crank length is also in proportion for correct saddle height and to get a low bike with plenty of crank clearance from the trail. So it’s paddle height, the lower the better. The narrower the Q factor, the horizontal distance between cranks, the better. This means that smaller rider’s legs will go up and down efficiently as they pedal, rather than being bowed outwards.
Kids’ mountain bikes
Now they’ve jumped up a bit in size a bit but they’re more recognizably a mountain bike shape. Most of these bikes are probably going to be rigid, although you can get options with suspension forks, probably an air suspension fork. so they’re lighter and they’re easily adjustable with changing riding weight. We’ve also now gone from one gear too many. So it opens up the terrain you can ride these on.
Commensal has the Ramones 20 and 24, both seven-speed bikes. These kids’ mountain bikes start at about 350 dollars up to about a thousand. These are proper mountain bikes designed for proper riding. Also, a couple of these might be a good option for smaller adults that can’t fit an adult bike.
The Meta Junior is really quality bikes with brands. You’ll recognize from the smaller-wheel bikes. you’ve got (mumbles) suspension forks, going up in travel to the Junior bike. this is the 27.5-inch wheel bike. The rock shocks recon fork on there. Sram gears on all these bikes.
The Meta Hardtails are available in 20, 24, and 27.5 inches. So a big range of height difference in riders. On to probably the coolest bike I’ve ever seen, of course, bikes, that’s the Clash. This one especially it’s a 20 inch. So say wheels I got from the Clash. That is a very small big-hitted bike.
Up to the junior, absolutely no compromise made here. 27.5 inches wheeled bike, 160 mil travel front, and rear, you’ve got big brakes. you’ve got the Scram guards, the 200 mil front router, 180 rear. This bike could do some pretty big, pretty impressive riding. Even the suspension internals have been designed to give kids the best stuff, scaled down to suit them.
As Commencal explained, the Kinematic is designed to fit very low-weight riders by using a very high ratio. we can have decent air pressure in the shock and standard hydraulics.
Without this, it would be impossible to have a bike made for kids. Expect prices to range from about 600 dollars up to two and a half thousand. Yes, that’s a lot of cash, you won’t find many bikes in your life that keep their value as well as a good kids’ bike. As soon as yours grows out of it, someone else’s will probably grow into it.
Hopefully, you’ll find that information useful if you’re going to buy a kids’ bike.