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The best kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes
It’s becoming quite a challenge to find kids 26 inch wheel mountain bikes. There is a stage where junior riders, aged between about 10 to 15 years, are too big for a 24″ kids MTB but too small for an adult mountain bike. The lack of kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes has been compounded by the trend over recent years for fitting 650b or 27.5″ wheels to adult bikes, which are often too big for younger riders to handle.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes from a variety of manufacturers that realise that not everybody wants or can fit onto an adult 27.5″ wheel MTB! We’ve also added some new ‘compact’ framed bikes from Whyte that have been designed for the youth/small rider market.
There are some great bikes coming out in the new year, if you can wait until after Christmas for your child to get the bike (you can pre-order now).
We have tried to select bikes from a range of prices including entry-level to serious competition to keep everyone happy.
The best kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes
Genesis Core Jr 26 (RRP £549 – down to £494)
The specification for the Core Jr 26 is all about keeping it simple.
Fitted with a 1×9 drivetrain and 11-34 cassette, the 9 gears should have enough range to have some fun without getting confusing (or heavy). It has a double butted aluminium frame and rigid cro-mo forks that will not require servicing like their suspension counterparts. 160mm Hydraulic brakes from Shimano are in place to bring things to a swift halt.Available from Evans Cycles
SCOTT SCALE 26 2018 Hardtail (RRP £499)
The 2018 Scott Scale Jr 26″ wheel mountain bike is a serious mountain bike, honed down to be suitable for younger riders who don’t have the power or the body size to handle an adult sized mountain bike. The Scott Scale has landed in the shops just in time for Christmas.
The Scott Scale Jr 26 claims to be a good choice for the junior mountain biker looking to take their riding to the next level. 100mm of travel on the front suspension combined with a reliable Shimano drivetrain giving 3 x 8 gears for climbing and descent will be fun on the trails. The Tektro disc brakes should give kids the confidence to push their limits, whatever the weather. It’s not the lighest bike available, coming in at 13.9kg.
It retails at £499 and is available at and Tweeks Cycles.
Hoy Bonaly 26 (RRP £360)
One of our local British cycling coaches has a fleet of these for the kids to race around on and without fail I’m always impressed with how well the Hoy Bonaly bike is put together. It’s common knowledge that Sir Chris Hoy has an incredibly high attention to detail, which goes someway to explaining the drawer full of Gold medals!
With an alloy frame and forks, 160mm disc brakes and a single ring at the front to keep gear changing easy with just 8 gears to worry about, the Hoy Bonaly 26 is right on trend. More importantly, it’s seriously light (circa 9kg) with parents surprised just how light when they lift it up. This is because it has rigid forks, so isn’t weighed down by suspension and will force your child to hone their technical skills rather than relying on suspension to get them over every bump in the trail. They also seem to be able to take some hammer too, as demonstrated many, many times by children on the British Cycling bikes!
BONUS: If you buy a Hoy bike via Evans website before Christmas you’ll get a £25 gift voucher
Giant ATX 2 26″ wheel (RRP £375)
Giant are the world’s largest manufacturer of bicycles with a range that covers all ages and disciplines. New for 2018, and superseding the Revel, is the ATX that comes in the ATX1 and ATX2 models. Thankfully, Giant have decided to continue with youth sized XXS and XS frames complimented by 26″ wheels.
The Giant ATX2 is a lightweight aluminium framed mountain bike for juniors and small adults, and sports an SR Suntour XCT suspension fork with 100m of travel. This is an entry level fork that is best suited to forest trails and gravel tracks rather than crazy downhill runs.
The ATX2 has 21 gears and it uses Shimano Tourney thumb operated shifters for changing through the cassette. In addition there is a Prowheel triple chainset at the front – this isn’t as simple as a single ring, but should suit kids confident in changing gear. An upgrade from 2017’s Revel is the addition of Tektro mechanical disc brakes. Other component such as the bars, stem and saddle are sourced from the enormous Giant ‘own brand’ parts bin.
So the ATX2 is an entry level MTB aimed at junior riders that are looking to get out and enjoy some moderate off road riding and it retails for £375.Also available to pre-order at Cyclestore
Scott Contessa Jr 26 MTB (RRP £399)
Contessa is the name given to the Scott range for both girls and women and comprises a broad selection of bikes that cover all disciplines.
The Contessa Jr 26 uses a 6061 alloy frame that has a low top tube that inspires confidence. At the front, Scott have equipped the bike with an SR Suntour XCT fork with a softer spring for juniors and this provides 100mm of travel. Shimano components have been used throughout for the derailleurs, shifters and triple crankset. This gives 21 speeds to choose from. For braking, Scott have chosen to use the traditional v-brake style, a tried and tested formula. The Scott website gives an approximate weight of 13.2kg for the Contessa Junior 26.
The Scott Contessa Jr 26 retails at £399.Available at Tredz Available at Tweeks Cycles
Scott Voltage Jr 26 (RRP £399)
The Voltage Jr 26 is the straight top tube equivalent of the Contessa Jr 26, so sports the same 100mm SR Suntour front fork and Promax v-brake system.
There are 21 speeds to choose from, with Shimano Tourney derailleurs and Shimano EF41 combined brake lever/shifters to make the changes. As with the Contessa Jr 26, the Scott Voltage Jr 26 also retails for £399.Available at Tweeks Cycles Available at Tredz
Islabikes Creig 26″ junior mountain bike (£800)
Amongst the larger framed Islabikes, the Creig mountain bike is often overshadowed by the Beinn and Luath models due to their outstanding popularity. However, this is a bike that should not be overlooked. The Creig is a well sorted and capable machine for the keen junior mountain biker in the family.
The Creig 26 is true to the Islabikes philosophy of being light in weight, coming in at a measly 11.3kg which is impressive for a bike with suspension forks. It also packs a mighty punch when it comes to the specification with kids specific geometry and components sized to match. This includes SRAM GX shifters, SRAM DB1 hydraulic disc brakes and an RST F1rst 60mm air sprung fork.
You can read our review of the Islabikes Creig 26 MTB here
The Islabikes Creig 26 has a retail price of £799.99.Available at Islabikes
Creig 26 Pro Series MTB (£1499)
As the name suggests, Pro Series models are intended for those with an eye on the top tier of the podium. This is not a bike that has been designed for a pootle in the park. I’m not saying it can’t be used for that, but it has been honed for use in competition. Pure and simple.As one would expect it comes with an impressive specification. For example, a sealed bearing bottom bracket with titanium axle and carbon fibre body. Avid DB5 hydraulic brakes with a 160mm disc at the front and 140mm at the rear. The wheels are Stan’s NoTube Crest with stainless steel spokes and sealed cartridge bearings in the hubs.
Also looking at the drivetrain, there is a SRAM GX rear derailleur and 11 speed shifter with Shimano XT 11-42T cassette to give a broad spread of gears from which to choose. The front fork is a RockShox Recon gold TK air fork with 80mm travel that is tuned for a junior rider. I could go on, but suffice to say that this bike is well spec’d.
True to the Islabikes ethos of correct sizing, it is a competition bike in miniature with junior geometry and dialled in components. One thing it is definitely not is a junior frame that has had top end adult parts bolted on. Everything is added to work together, complement and give synergy so it feels just right for a junior rider.
So is it light? In a word – yes. 9.32kg without pedals
If you have a racer on your hands and have £1499 to spend on a cutting edge junior mountain bike, then consider getting in touch with Islabikes to discuss the Creig 26 Pro Series.
Full suspension anyone?
For 2018, Whyte are really broadening their youth offering. Not only do they have the two specific 26″ wheeled hardtails which we cover below, but they’ve introduced an extra small framed ‘Compact’ version of some of the existing full-sus line up.
Whyte T-130 (from £2,250)
Whyte have really gone to town! The Whyte T-130 is an award winning full suspension enduro machine, featuring state of the art technology in both it’s frame and components.
Two versions are available in the XS frame size – the T-130S shown above, featuring a 1×12 single ring coupled to a massive wide-ranging 10-50T cassette at the rear(!), and the slightly lower specced but still incredible T-130SR shown below.
The Whyte T-130S retails for £2750.Available at Leisure Lakes Bikes
The Whyte T-130SR retails for £2250.Available at Leisure Lakes Bikes
26″ WHEEL JUNIOR MTB’S AVAILABLE IN 2018
Orbea MX 26 Mountain Bikes 2018 (RRP £399 and £429)
Orbea are bringing an increasing number of kids bikes to market, and it’s good to see them including the elusive 26″ wheel size mountain bike in their range.
And they’ve got not just one, but two offerings – the MX26 Dirt (pictured above) and the MX 26 XC (pictured below, with XC standing for Cross Country). Both bikes are specified with child friendly components and disc brakes, and have a lightweight aluminium frame so will be fun and easy to handle.The Orbea MX 26 Dirt MTB is their entry level mountain bike, with suspensions forks with 75mm of travel, ideal for those riding the trails. The Orbea MX 26 XC has 100mm of travel on the suspension fork, which will soak up the bumps of those riding cross country routes or more rocky routes at trail centres.
Unfortunately these bikes are not available until January 2018, but you can pre-order to reserve your bike now
Some hard to find kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes
Back in 2016, we were very excited to see several new kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes being showcased at the 2016 Cycle Show. 2017 editions were hard to track down, but thankfully Whyte have got the 2018’s ready to go!
Whyte put a lot of effort and careful consideration into the design of their bikes, and none more so than for the kids range. There are clever little touches such as the ‘Get-a-Grip’ seatpost clamp that allows post position to be altered even with small, cold hands!
Whyte 403 hardtail
Whyte three hardtail options at the slightly larger 650b wheel size and are aimed at riders between 4′ 10″ to 5′ 2″.
The 2018 Whyte 403 has a retail price of £599.Available at Leisure Lakes Bikes
Whyte 405 hardtail
Next up in the pecking order is the higher specced 405 model, that comes with a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain and SR Suntour Epixon 100mm travel air sprung fork.
The 2018 Whyte 405 has a retail price of £950.Available at Leisure Lakes Bikes Available at Rutland Cycling
Trek Superfly 26
From Trek we have the Superfly 26 hardtail – it looks pretty mean with its all-black paintwork and red Trek decals. Inspired by the adult version, the Superfly is built using child specific components throughout plus a kids size frame too. This means that everything works together to give confidence and control to junior riders.
The specification for the Superfly is as expected for a high end kid’s mountain bike. For the drivetrain, there is an 11 speed SRAM NX system with a 30 tooth chainset at the front and an 11-42T cassette at the rear. This will help riders tackle the biggest of hills.
Braking is provided by Tektro M285 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors, providing good stopping power. Also, the Superfly is equipped with front suspension and uses an X-Fusion Velvet RL fork to give a very useful 90mm of travel. Elsewhere, the Superfly is scattered with Trek’s very own Bontrager componentry to give an all round quality package.
The Trek Superfly 26 retails for £750 and Trek sell their products exclusively through independently owned and operated bike shops. It is available at retailers within the Trek dealer network including Evans Cycles. There does seem to be supply shortage at the moment, and having spoken to Trek they expect more to hit the shops within the next month or two.
Products from Amazon.co.uk
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Other posts you may like:
- Buying a kids mountain bike – things you need to know
- Cheap but quality 26″ and 27.5″ kids mtb’s for around £400
- The best kids 24″ wheel mountain bikes
- 12 things you need to know before buying a kids bike
- Best 26″ wheel hybrid kids bikes – last stop before an adult bike!
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