Emerald MTB Mountain Biking in Ireland

5 Childrens Mountain Bikes to Get Your Kids Out Riding With You

As a mountain biking dad, I want my kids to ride with me.

It’s a great feeling to watch them pop their first wheelie, hit their first gap jump or lash through their first black run. In my case, all of these things happened for my son before he was 8.

How did he get to be quite so brave?

There is one simple answer: good bikes. Children need to have fun bikes. Just like us, children want their bikes to be good, they just don’t know it. If their bike is heavy, clunky, with poor brakes, hard to shift gears or geometry from the stone age it is only going to translate into one thing - no fun. And when they don’t have fun they won’t want to ride.

Kids mountain bikes

Here I’ve compiled a list of the children’s bikes that my son has ridden. I have also included the children’s mountain bike helmets that he used. They were all purchased at full price. In my personal opinion, all of these kids bikes are well worth their purchase price and the time it took to save up to buy them. Are they cheap? No. Are they amazing? Absolutely.

What children’s bikes was he riding?

Early Rider wooden balance bike

  1. Early Rider CLassic Balance Bike

    • Cost: €100
    • Sold for: €60
    • Age: 15 months
    • Helmet: Children specific Bell

    This runner bike, or balance bike, made out of wood was a revolutionary addition to our family outings. Instead of walking slowly for 5 minutes before either needing to stop for a rest or picking my son up, suddenly little Austin could sprint along at a good adult walking pace for 10 minutes. And he managed this almost immediately after getting on the balance bike. In a short time, he managed to go for much longer stretches. He loved this bike and used it everywhere: in the garden, in the park, out on walks, in the woods and even at (eventually) skateparks!

    Good: A light well-designed children’s bike that can take the knocks and holds its resale value
    Bad: Nope

    Early Rider Belter 16 childrens pedal bike

  2. Early Rider Belter 16

    • Age: 3
    • Cost: (Current RRP £299.99)
    • Sold for: €150
    • Helmet: Fox Proframe size small

    The Belter 16 was an absolute spark of genius by the lads at Early Rider. It’s a fun, light, strong bike. The designers seem to understand that my 3 year old was not an Olympic weight lifter with a desire to ride in straight lines at low speed. This bike was lightweight, nimble and confidence-inspiring. Little drops he had previously attempted on the runner bike where now being launched, crashed, picked up again, retried and eventually mastered. In no time it seemed as though there where jumps, drops, roots and things to lash through everywhere. And he delighted in discovering new obstacles to ride over! His confidence was absolutely flying.

    Good: A lightweight and well-balanced kids mountain bike. Early Rider’s strong customer service.
    Bad: The first edition had a tendency to lose the tension bolts in the chainstay. This is no longer a problem with the newer re-designed bikes.

    Early Rider Belter 20

  3. Early Rider Belter 20

    • Age: 5
    • Cost: €700
    • Sold for: €450
    • Helmet: Fox Proframe size small

    While this may be starting to sound like an advert for Early Rider kids bikes, I should point out that I have no sponsorship or affiliation with the brand. I just love their bikes.

    The belter 20 was the next natural step in my son’s riding progression. Having 3 gears and bigger wheels meant it went up hills easily and downhill even better.

    Austin’s age, strength and growing skills really helped to bring the best out of this little bike. He loved it until the day it was passed on to his little brother. Coincidentally, not long after seeing his grandad’s fat bike…

    Good: Another lightweight well put together kids bike.
    Bad: I was not keen on the grind spinner fork or the cable pull brakes.

    Kids bikes make great hand me downs

    Specialized Riprock childrens mountain bike

  4. Specialized Riprock

    • Age: 7
    • Cost: €500
    • Sold for: €350
    • Upgrades: approx. €350
    • Helmet: Fox Proframe size small
    • Body armour: 661

    Upgrades? On a kids bike? I know, I know. However, its not as steep as it seems. Most of the upgrades where parts taken from older bikes. Mostly. But if you had to buy them all from new that would have been the approximate cost.

    Child jumping a mountain bike

    What did we upgrade?

    • Brakes hydraulic instead of cable
    • Thumb shifter instead of gripshift
    • Saddle
    • Drive train
    • Pedals
    • Grips
    • Tubless
    • Chain guide

    The Specialized was not as refined as the early rider, but it was still a great bike. The 2.8” x 20” tires were monster truckish and the bike’s geometry made jumping and climbing fun. It was a significantly heavier bike but, fortunately, Austin was stronger and able to work with it. I would have loved to have shed some more weight from the bike but, in the end, we sold it to make way for the next bike.

    Good: Those tires could rip through anything. Loads of traction and very little drag.
    Bad: A lot of the stock components are not great. It likes to drop the chain. Heavy.

    Propain Yuma

  5. Propain Yuma

    • Age: 8+
    • Cost: €1700
    • Sold for: He’s still riding it. But there is a queue of people that want it.
    • Helmet: Fox Proframe size small
    • Body armour: 661
    • Upgrades: Dropper post. Tubeless.

    This thing is fantastic. A proper children’s mountain bike. Bulletproof. So stable. It has proper components out of the box from the likes of SRAM, Manitou and Rock Shox. This is a very fast little kids mountain bike. Which is great because with great speed come great crashes. The design and spec of this bike have many times saved Austin from mistakes where, I am sure, a hardtail would have thrown him out the front door. It’s a fun bike for bike parks and great for climbing which he often does. Not content with being awesome on all those fronts it’s also a grower. With a set of dropouts, the wheel size can be changed from 24” inch to 26” inch wheels dramatically extending its life.

    Good: There is nothing this bike can’t do. The rider is the only limiting factor. It is a grin induction unit.
    Bad: No dropper seat post

Propain Yuma childrens mountain bike

Jet Stokes
Jet Stokes

Jet is a long-time frequent mountain biker and father of four. With all that time spent on bikes, he knows what gear does and doesn't work for him and his family.

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