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Cheap but quality 26" and 27.5" kids mtb's for around £400
You might think trying to find a cheap kids mountain bike that doesn't weigh the same as a cross channel ferry is a tall order. Well, perhaps. But it shouldn't be, should it?
Let's just stand back and think about this for a moment. We live in a time where interest on any savings you may have is negligible and where job security is flaky at best. Most people don't have several thousand pounds to drop on a new mountain bike for themselves, let alone their kids.
So does that mean that you can forget it? Are you're chances of heading out into the hills with your kids and having some fun are a non-starter? Nope. I've made it a bit of a mission to carefully pore over the offerings from each manufacturer, checking out the specs and identifying what I believe are the cheapest junior mountain bikes around about the £400 mark, that don't compromise on quality.
At this price point, the list I've put together comprises a mix of fully rigid bikes plus some with front suspension forks.
If possible, get your hands on one - sit on it, ride on it, bounce on it to make sure your child weighs enough to compress the fork. Make sure it works for your child, else it's just additional weight.
I've also taken wheel size into account, including both 26" and the newer 27.5, because as time passes the availability of 26" wheels, tyres and forks is sadly diminishing.
Ok, so let's be honest - they're not going to be featherweights covered in the latest bling components because that's just not possible in this cheaper price bracket. But if you're wanting a proper off road bike that will last, comes with a good frame and specification worth improving as pocket money funds allow, then look no further.
I hope you'll agree.
Orbea MX26 range
Over the last couple of years, Orbea have reinvented their kids and junior offerings to create a new and exciting range of bikes that cover all ages. The Orbea MX26 XC forms part of a three bike 26" wheeled lineup that uses the same frameset but with improved levels of specification as you climb up the price range.
The cheapest is the £399 MX 26 Dirt, giving you 21 speeds and mechanical disc brakes. At the front there is an SR Suntour M3030 suspension fork with 75mm of travel. This is an entry level fork so won't be the lightest nor the most plush in operation, however it's got a short travel suitable for kids and with Orbea on the case should work as intended. The MX26 Dirt is without doubt a good looking machine and comes in three attractive colour schemes.
Next up is the MX26 XC that comes with 24 speeds, a better fork and hydraulic brakes for £429. However, if you can stretch to it, the top of the tree is the MX 26 Team. Coming in at £519, some £90 more than the XC, there are changes that further improve quality and reduce weight. For example, the SR Suntour XC32 fork at the front is air sprung.
The crank has a single chainring coupled to a 12-36T nine speed cassette at the rear, while stopping duties are performed by the same Shimano M315 hydraulic discs found on the XC model. Also, the wheel set sees an upgrade in wheels and tyres.
Voodoo Nzumbi - a cheap kids mountain bike
Voodoo have developed a reputation for building good quality mountain bikes at a very reasonable price. The Nzumbi is no exception, with a pretty good setup for the price. There's a 9 speed single chainring setup with Shimano Altus shifters and rear mech.
An SR Suntour XCR magnesium air fork gives 120mm travel at the front, while braking comes courtesy of Tektro M286 hydraulic discs. A liberal smattering of own brand finishing kit here and there and you've got a stunning looking, very orange, proper mountain bike.
The Voodoo Nzumbi retails at £435 and can be purchased from Halfords.
Trek Kids Dual Sport and Neko
Established over forty years ago, Trek have built up a cycling dynasty of many household brands, with a strong reputation for creating well designed and constructed bikes that cover a broad price spectrum.
With a price tag of £400, the Kids Dual Sport has a nice lightweight build (11.2kg) with alloy frame and forks, rather than opting for a cheap suspension fork that adds weight.
The Neko is essentially the same bike specification-wise but designed with female geometry, with both coming in at £400.
Tektro mechanical disc brakes slow things down when required, while 21 speeds are available to keep things moving and take account of varying terrain. Good quality components from Formula and 'in-house' brand Bontrager complete the picture.
A simple, no nonsense pair of bikes bike that can be used on road or trail and hopefully won't break the bank.
Hoy Bonaly 26
If slim and purposeful is how you like your bikes to look, then the Hoy Bonaly 26 may well tick all of the boxes. With a rigid fork and aluminium frame that looks mighty clean with its smoothed welds (having tried my hand at welding, I'm a sucker for these) the Bonaly has the looks of a pared down race bike. They say less is more, and with a single ring up front (32T) and an 8 speed 11-34T cassette at the rear the gearing is kept pretty simple with only the one shifter to operate.
Brakes are Shimano Acera, a hydraulic disc system with 160mm rotors that should give plenty of braking power when needed. There's plenty of Hoy branded components to finish things off, but the wheels comprise Alex rims, Joytech hubs and stainless spokes, something not always seen at this price.
Trott Mtb 1
This is a cool looking bike - fact. I'm really liking the "less is more" approach that Mrs Kenny has applied to her range of women's bikes and the MTB 1 is no exception. Ok, it's not a child's bike. It is an extra small female frame with 27.5 wheels, but it is so compact that it is being bought and ridden by many happy girls aged from about ten years and up. Only problem is finding one, as they're on clearance. Might be worth ringing all of the Halfords shops in your area.
This isn't really a surprise, as for the money the MTB 1 is a very well specified bike. Lightweight alloy frame - check. Air spun 120mm front suspension fork - check. SRAM 11 speed chainset with 11-42 rear cassette - check. Tektro hydraulic brakes - check.
The list just goes on, and the best bit is that it 's currently available on clearance for £350 from Halfords. (Usual price £499) Plus, if you're a British Cycling member you will get an extra 10% off at Halfords. Absolute bargain!
If you've enjoyed reading this then please check out some of our other articles:
- The best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes
- Best 26″ wheel kids bikes – last stop before an adult bike!
- Buying a kids mountain bike – things you need to know
- 12 things you need to know before buying a kids bike
- Kids clothing and gloves
- How to take kids and bikes on a plane
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