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Best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes

This post covers the best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes and we've tried to cater for all budgets. We've also got a post dedicated to the best 26" kids mountain bikes under £500 where you'll find a bigger selection of quality kids MTB's at prices below this point.

The majority of the mountain bikes featured in this post are "hardtail" - which means they have front suspension forks, but we've also included a few rigid fork bikes which are designed for off road riding too.

Here at Cycle Sprog we need to make enough money to feed and clothe our growing Sprogs! One way we do this is by using affiliate schemes where possible. This means we may receive a small commission from sales made when our readers click a link and buy a bike. Thanks for your support.

Vitus Nucleus 26 (£500) 

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended bike

Vitus are on a mission to create exciting bikes that kids want to ride and the Nucleus 26 is no exception. Designed from scratch for young riders but taking styling cues from the adult range, the Nucleus 26 looks every inch the part, with progressive geometry and components sized for the younger rider so that it fits just right.  The 2020 model has just come out and just £500 I foresee this selling out quickly!!!!

Vitus Nucleus 26 2020 kids hardtail mountain bike

The Nucleus 26 comes packed with a great specification including hydraulic disc brakes, a short stem and wide bars for rider control, plus an efficient 'single ring' gearing setup with a broad spread of ratios that should allow many a hill to be conquered. Vitus has also specified a Spinner 300 air fork with 100mm of travel that can be tuned for the weight of the rider.

Our youngest Sprog spent last summer riding the 2019 version of this bike, and he REALLY enjoyed it - you can see some photos of him riding it at Bike Park Wales in his Sprog Blog here.

BUY NOW: Vitus Nucleus 26 from Wiggle

Frog MTB 69 and 72 mountain bikes (£640)

Cycle Sprog reviewed bike

Frog released their new "Push The Limits" (PTL) bike range in February 2018 and this is the first time the popular kids bike range has offered a mountain bike.  Frog's experience in building kids bikes shows as they are offering two 26" wheel mountain bikes.  The Frog MTB 69  is aimed at those aged about 10-12 years (with a minimum inside leg of 69cm)  and the Frog MTB 72  is for those older kids who have an inside leg of 72cm.

Frog Mountain Bike - the Frog MTB 69 kids size 26" wheel mountain bike

Frog Bikes have designed a lightweight frame specifically for junior riders, to increase stability whilst improving control.  There is a 5-year warranty on the frame. The Tektro junior specific hydraulic disc brakes make it easy for smaller hands to brake whilst remaining control of the bike. All the Frog mountain bikes come with junior specific air suspension forks, complete with lockout and damping control, to enable optimal performance for lower weight riders,  with 100mm of travel on the two 26″ wheel bikes.

The tyres on the Frog MTB's are the same as on their hybrid bikes, so you may want to upgrade to something a bit more knobbly for winter and muddy riding. Our 10 year old reviewed the Frog 69 MTB over the summer of 2018, so can you find out exactly what we think of this bike.

BUY NOW: Frog MTB 69 at Tredz

SAVE £5 ON A FROG BIKE AT TREDZ: Just sign up for their newsletter before you complete your purchase and they'll immediately send you a voucher code to add to your basket. You can find the sign up halfway down their home page (look for the red banner)

Frog kids mountain bikes are also available from Frog’s network of local bike shop stockists.

Squish 26 MTB (£480)

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended bike

26" wheel kids mountain bike - the Squish MTB 26

Squish kids bikes have recently ventured into making junior sized mountain bikes and our 10 year old reviewer was very pleasantly surprised when he put this bike through its paces on a variety of terrains during the summer and autumn of 2019, including at some very muddy trail centres.  You can read our full review of the Squish 26 mountain bike here, but to summarise it's another really well specified bike, with air sprung 100m fork and hydraulic disc brakes that will be a great choice for anyone wanting to progress from a rigid fork to suspension bike for the first time.  Our reviewer thinks the paint job will appeal to slightly younger kids, but that's entirely a matter of personal taste.

Buy now: Squish 26 Mountain Bike from Tredz

SAVE £5 ON THIS BIKE AT TREDZ: If you sign up for the Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) before you complete your purchase, they will immediately give you a £5 gift voucher - nice!

Hoy Bonaly 26 rigid fork MTB (rrp £500)

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended brand

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 some way to explaining the drawer full of Gold medals!

Hoy Bonaly 26

With an alloy frame and forks, 160mm disc brakes and a single ring at the front to keep gear changing easy with just 9 gears to worry about, the Hoy Bonaly 26 is right on trend. More importantly, it's seriously light (circa 10kg with pedals) with parents surprised just how light when they lift it up. This is because it has rigid forks, so it 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!

We've reviewed the smaller Hoy Bonaly 20, which our tester really enjoyed riding

BUY NOW: Hoy Bonaly 26 at Evans Cycles for £500

TOP TIP: If you sign up for the Evans Cycles Newsletter they'll send you a voucher code to save £5 off your first purchase. You can sign up by scrolling to the bottom of any page on their website - an email should be sent to you within a couple of minutes.

Islabikes Creig 26 junior mountain bike (£899) 

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended 

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.Islabike Creig 26

The Creig 26 is true to the Islabikes philosophy of being light in weight, coming in at just 11kg 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 X4 thumbshifter, SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes and a Rock Shox Gold 80mm air-sprung fork.

You can read our review of the Islabikes Creig 26 MTB here

The Islabikes Creig 26 can be purchased direct from Islabikes website and has a retail price of £899.99.

GT Stomper Ace 26" - (RRP £370)

This isn't a bad way to get your kids out on the trail. With an 8-speed drivetrain using Shimano's Altus thumbshifter, a single 30 tooth chainset keeping things simple, and an 11-34 cassette, the GT Stomper Ace is off to a good start.

Black Friday deal - GT Stomper Ace 26

There's a set of mechanical disc brakes fitted and it comes with Kenda's Small Block Eight tyres which are a  good all-rounder. At the front, GT has opted for an SR Suntour XCM suspension fork that gives 100mm of travel which, although a budget option, can be adjusted (softer/firmer) with the preload dial.

BUY NOW: GT Stomper Ace 26" at Tredz - use discount code shown below

SAVE £5 ON THIS BIKE AT TREDZ: If you sign up for the Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) before you complete your purchase, they will immediately give you a £5 gift voucher - nice!

Pinnacle Kauri 26" mtb (RRP £380)

Pinnacle has gone back to basics with the design of the Kauri - keeping things simple with no superfluous extras. But that's not saying the bike itself is basic - oh no. The Kauri is built around an aluminium frame matched up to a rigid fork, with geometry that is designed to inspire confidence.

Pinnacle Kauri 26 mtb

Tyres are nice and chunky WTB Nano's (a popular choice for the Tour Divide) so more than capable of some off-road action. A 1x9 drivetrain keeps things simple and then there's a set of Tektro hydraulic disc brakes to bring things to a stop.

BUY NOW: Pinnacle Kauri 26" from Evans Cycles

TOP TIP: If you sign up for the Evans Cycles Newsletter they'll send you a voucher code to save £5 off your first purchase. You can sign up by scrolling to the bottom of any page on their website - an email should be sent to you within a couple of minutes.

Giant ATX 2 26" wheel 2020 model (RRP £399)

Giant is the world's largest manufacturer of bicycles with a range that covers all ages and disciplines. Their old 26" wheel mountain bike was called the Revel, and has been superseded by the ATX which comes in the ATX1 and ATX2 models. Thankfully, Giant has decided to continue with youth-sized XXS and XS frames complimented by 26" wheels.

The Giant ATX2 is a lightweight aluminium framed entry-level 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 ideal for forest trails and gravel tracks rather than crazy downhill runs.  

Giant has released their 2020 models, and these come in a fetching Carmine Red and also Metallic black/blue colourway.

The ATX2 has 21 gears so note this won't be as easy to operate as the other bikes with a single chainring. It uses Shimano Tourney thumb-operated shifters for changing through the cassette. In addition, there is a Prowheel triple chainset at the front, which means that unlike all the other bikes on this page your child will need to use two gear shifters - one for each hand.   This is one of the differences between cheaper and more expensive mountain bikes.

Giant ATX2 26 inch wheel mtb

However, unlike many of the cheaper kids mountain bikes, the Giant ATX does come with the benefit of Tektro disc brakes, which for this year appear to have been upgraded from mechanical units to hydraulic. Other components such as the bars, stem, and saddle are sourced from Giants 'own brand' parts bin.

So the ATX2 is a popular entry-level MTB aimed at junior riders that are looking to get out and enjoy some moderate off-road riding.

BUY NOW: The Giant ATX is available to buy at Tredz

SAVE £5 ON A GIANT BIKE AT TREDZ: Just sign up for the Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) and they'll give you a £5 voucher code off your first purchase

Saracen Mantra HT 2.6 (rrp £650)

The Mantra range from Saracen is a hardtail stalwart of the UK mountain biking world. This youth-sized model comes fully equipped with a 1x9 speed Shimano drivetrain with a wide-ranging 11-36 tooth cassette to provide the versatility required for different trails.

Saracen Mantra HT 2.6

Saracen has specified an SR Suntour XCR air fork with 100mm of travel, and being air-sprung it can be fine-tuned to match the weight of the rider. Brakes are from Tektro and are hydraulically operated, with 160mm discs front and rear, so there's stopping power aplenty.

The retail price of the Mantra HT 2.6 is £649, but Tredz have it on sale at the moment for £585.

BUY NOW: Saracen Mantra HT 2.6  from Tredz. 

SAVE £5 ON THIS BIKE AT TREDZ: If you sign up for the Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) before you complete your purchase, they will immediately give you a £5 gift voucher - nice!

CUBE ACID EAGLE 27.5 HARDTAIL

Ok, so it's not a 26" but it's a great deal if, like me, you have an older/taller/hungrier teenager. Available in a number of sizes including a 14" frame, this is an incredible deal on 2019 models at Tweeks Cycles as the specification is truly superb. Tweeks clearance has the Acid Eagle reduced from £899 down to £599 - an incredible saving of £300!!!

Cube Acid Eagle 27.5

With a Rock Shox Recon air fork giving 100mm of travel and a SRAM NX Eagle 12 speed transmission with huge 10-50T cassette, this is a bike with the capability to blitz trails at ease.

Be sure to check out the size chart to ensure it fits!

BUY NOW: Cube Acid Eagle 27.5 hardtail £599 (SAVE £300) at Tweeks Cycles

Orange Zest 26" (RRP £1,000)

Straight outta Halifax - the Orange team sure know a thing or two about how to create a seriously rugged mountain bike. The Zest is a smaller version of Orange's famed 'Clockwork', with up to the minute geometry that sports a longer top tube and shorter stem. The wheelbase is plenty long enough too, giving stability and confidence.

Orange Zest 26

There's a 1x11 SRAM drivetrain featuring a 32t chainring and 11-42T cassette, plus a Rockshox 30 Silver solo air fork giving 100m of travel and plenty of rider adjustment. The Zest frame also features internal routing for a dropper seatpost, and neat external cable routing which makes for easy changes when the time comes.

BUY NOW: Orange Zest 26" mountain bike at Tredz

SAVE £5 ON THIS BIKE AT TREDZ: If you sign up for the Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) before you complete your purchase, they will immediately give you a £5 gift voucher - nice!

Whyte 26" wheel hardtail mountain bikes

Whyte put a lot of effort and careful consideration into the design of their bikes, and none more so than for the kids range.  They are scaled down versions of their adult bikes, with some clever little touches such as the 'Get-a-Grip' seatpost clamp that allows post position to be altered even with small, cold hands!

Whyte have two hardtail options at the slightly larger 650b wheel size and these are aimed at riders between 4' 10" to 5' 2".

Whyte 403 (RRP £599) 

Whyte 403 in bright yellow

The Whyte 403 has proved to be so popular that it's Whyte's number 1 selling bike - outselling their adult bikes this year!!!  The 403 is their entry level junior MTB, but you still get a lot of bike for your money. The lightweight aluminium frame has internal cable routing to keep the lines clean and avoid any mishaps on the trail.  The SR Suntour XCM suspension 100mm fork is air-sprung so you can tune to the riders weight.  The  Shimano 1x9spd drivetrain is coupled with a 11-40T Cassette, and uses a youth specific trigger shifter.

BUY NOW: Click here to buy the Whyte 403 from Leisure Lakes Bikes

Whyte 405 hardtail (RRP £950)

Next up in the pecking order from the 403 is the higher specced 405 model, that comes with a SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain and SR Suntour Epixon 100mm travel air-sprung fork. Whyte has specced an XSYNC Direct Mount chainring, allowing for chainring swap-outs if you feel the need so that you can tune the drivetrain for the type of riding and for the size of your Cycle Sprog.

Whyte 405 in blue and orange

The 2019 Whyte 405 has a retail price of £950.

BUY NOW: Click here to buy the Whyte 405 from Leisure Lakes Bikes

 

Discontinued bikes

Dawes Academy MTB 26

Sadly, the Dawes Academy range has been discontinued, so the last remaining 2018 bikes are being sold off rather cheaply. Happily, this means some lucky Cycle Sprogs are going to get a lot of bike for their money!

This 26" wheeled mountain bike is built around a triple-butted aluminium frame that comes in both 13" and 15" sizes. There's a Spinner 300 air fork (with lockout function) that can be adjusted to suit the child's weight, and which gives 100mm of travel.

2018 Dawes Academy 26 MTB

The drivetrain comprises a Shimano Acera 9 speed shifter mated to a lovely Deore rear derailleur and an 11-34T cassette. The front chainset has proportioned crank arms and a 32 tooth chainring. Tektro supply the hydraulic disc brakes with matching levers, with 160mm and 140mm rotors front and rear respectively.

The Academy MTB 26 is certainly a purposeful and lithe looking mountain bike. The RRP is £600 and Dawes website state the weight as being 11.26kg.

==> BUY THE DAWES ACADEMY MTB 26 AT EVANS CYCLES for £480

==> BUY SECONDHAND FROM eBAY

It can be quite a challenge to find a decent kids 26-inch wheel mountain bike in stock anywhere this time of year - such is demand from junior riders aged between about 10 to 14 years. For this age group, they're too big for a 24" kids MTB, and an adult mountain bike is too big to handle properly.

If we've missed out your favourite kids 26" mountain bike, then do please let us know in the comments section below. We'd also love to hear which bike you bought and what your Cycle Sprog thinks of it.

Other posts you might find helpful

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Affiliate disclosure:  Cycle Sprog may make a small commission from sales made through some links on this page. Thanks for helping support the website.



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2 Comments

  1. Dylan says:

    How do you buy a bike on this web site

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