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The best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes - 2019
Last year it was quite a challenge to find a decent kids 26 inch wheel mountain bike in stock anywhere - such was demand from junior riders, aged between about 10 to 14 years, who are too big for a 24" kids MTB but too small for an adult mountain bike. The lack of kids 26" wheel mountain bikes had 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.
Thankfully, things seem to be improving, with more brands starting to cater for this youth market, who certainly don't want a "kids" bike but can't quite handle mum or dad's bike (phew!). Things are looking up in this area!
The best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes - 2019
As this is a post about the best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes, there are obviously some quite expensive bikes featured. If your budget is below £500 then we have another post specifically on the best 26" kids mountain bikes under £500 where you'll find a bigger selection of quality kids MTB's at a slightly lower price point.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Dawes Academy MTB 26 (RRP £600 - now £480)
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.
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.
Frog MTB 69 and 72 (£640/ £650)
Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended 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 those aged about 10-12 years (with minimum inside leg of 69cm) and the Frog MTB 72 is for those older kids who have an inside leg of 72cm.
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.
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.
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.
Frog kids mountain bikes are also available from Frog’s network of local bike shop stockists.
Hoy Bonaly 26 rigid fork MTB (RRP £465)
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 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 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 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
Islabikes Creig 26" junior mountain bike (£800)
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.
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 can be purchased direct from Islabikes website and has a retail price of £799.99.
Giant are 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 have 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 best suited to forest trails and gravel tracks rather than crazy downhill runs. For 2019 there are two new paint schemes, flash green and neon orange.
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, 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. This bike is under £400, and your child will have to deal with the complexity of 21 gears. Do be aware that the triple chainset at the front also adds more weight and there's more than can go wrong when you're out on the trail.
However, unlike many of the cheaper kids mountain bikes the Giant ATX does come with the benefit of Tektro mechanical disc brakes. Other components such as the bars, stem and saddle are sourced from Giants '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 only £365.
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)
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.
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 have 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.
The 2019 Whyte 405 has a retail price of £950.
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
- Cheap but quality 26″ and 27.5″ kids mtb’s for under £500
- Buying a kids mountain bike – things you need to know
- The best kids 27.5" wheel mountain bikes
- The best kids 24″ wheel mountain bikes
- The best full suspension kids 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!
- Black Friday Deals on Kids Mountain Bikes - discounts available already
- Frog MTB 69 kids mountain bike review
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