Kids mountain bikes under £500 - 26" and 27.5" wheel size
You might think trying to find a kids mountain bike that doesn't weigh the same as a cross channel ferry for less than £500 is a tall order. Well, perhaps. But it shouldn't be, should it? 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 your chances of heading out into the hills with your kids and having some fun are a non-starter? The good news is there are some reasonably cheap junior mountain bikes available in the 26" and 27.5" wheel sizes. Yes, they're still in the range of £350 to £500 but this is quite a lot cheaper than the majority of quality kids mountain bikes available that retail up to several thousand pounds. So without further ado, take a look at our selection of kids mountain bikes under £500 - 26" and 27.5" wheel size .
A word about gears and suspension on cheap kids mountain bikes
It's gearing and suspension that can make or break a mountain bike ride. More expensive kids mountain bikes will have much more simple gearing than many of the cheaper ones. If you can afford a bike with a single chainring rather than a double or triple it will make your child's life much easier as they only have to change gear with one hand. It's also lighter and there's less to go wrong whilst you're out on the trail.
Suspension is only any good if it works, so don't be tempted by a really cheap full suspension bike - it's highly unlikely to provide any benefit.
The best 26" and 27.5" wheel kids MTB's for less than £500
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 for under £500, 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 you're looking for a bike with suspension, where possible get your Sprog onto 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.
Beware really cheap kids mountain bikes
Please don't be fooled into paying a really cheap price for a brand new kids mountain bike with suspension if you're meaning to head out on some serious off road rides. Here's why we don't suggest buying a really cheap bike. If £350 to £500 is still more than you want to spend, the alternative is to go for a 26" wheel kids hybrid bike, as you'll get a lot more bike for your money. Your child can still ride most trails on them - they'll develop better bike handling skills on narrower tyres and rigid forks.
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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.
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" from Tredz
The MX Dirt is a Junior bike sporting a 27.5 wheelset, which is still relatively rare for this group of riders. It comes fitted with 2.35 tyres ready for tackling the trails and a double chainset with 22 and 36 tooth rings that, coupled with the rear cassette, gives a wide spread of gears to cover all eventualities.
At the front, there's an SR Suntour XCE 28 fork giving 100mm of travel. Now, this is a coil spring rather than our preferred air fork, so the options for adjusting to suit the rider is less with this one. However, it does come equipped with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano thumb shifters for changing through the gears.
BUY NOW: Orbea MX 27 XS Dirt from Tredz
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 a 9 speed 11-34T cassette at the rear the gearing is kept pretty simple with only the one shifter to operate.
The brakeset comes from Tektro, a hydraulic disc system with 160mm rotors that should give decent braking power when needed. The wheels comprise Alex rims and stainless spokes, something not always seen at this price. There's plenty of Hoy branded components to finish things off.
The minimum inside leg measurement given for this bike is 69cm - which will probably be an 8 year old or over. The Bonaly is extremely lightweight for the price - coming in at just 10.2kg including pedals, which is significantly lighter than most other bikes on this page, as it doesn't have the added weight of the suspension fork.
The Hoy Bonaly 26 is the largest offering in the Bonaly range and retails for £500.
BUY NOW: HOY BONALY 26 AT EVANS CYCLES
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 best suited to forest trails and gravel tracks rather than crazy downhill runs. Giant has just released their 2020 models, and these come in a fetching Carmine Red and also Metallic black/blue colourway.
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 ATX2 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 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 £399.
BUY NOW: THE GIANT ATX IS AVAILABLE TO BUY AT TREDZ
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. From 2019, we've seen Orbea phase out the 26er wheel size in favour of the larger and now more prevalent 27.5" in conjunction with appropriately proportioned XS frames.
The Orbea MX 60 comes in several great colour schemes and is equipped with 100m travel front forks and a wide ranging set of gears. Again, like the slightly cheaper Giant it has a triple chainset giving 21 gears in total but this is the trade off for getting a new bike at a sub £400 price point. Pay a bit more and you'll get a much more simplified system, which will be easier to use, weigh less and have less to go wrong.
With its modern geometry alloy frame, alloy components and being disc brake equipped the Orbea MX 60 should prove to be a robust entry into the world of mountain biking.
The Orbea MX 60 has a retail price of £359.
BUY NOW: THE ORBEA MX 60 AT TREDZ
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.
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
Squish MTB 26 (RRP £430)
Squish Bikes have recently added two mountain bikes to their range of lightweight kids bikes - a 24" wheeler and the larger 26" wheeler which we're looking at here.
Whilst the sub £400 mountain bikes all have complex triple chainsets with 21 gears, pay a bit over £400 and you see the immediate benefits, with the Squish having the bonus of only 8 gears to worry about. This means less to go wrong on the trail, and no difficult decisions on what gear combination to be in.
The gear spread on the rear Shimano HG-41Cassette is 11-32T coupled with a 32T chainring at the front, which should see your Sprog get up most hills without pushing.
The Squish MTB weighs in 12.5kg with pedals (the cheaper bikes don't state a weight).
With SR Suntour XCR-Lo Air Suspension forks and Tektro M-280 Mechanical Disc Brakes with 160mm rotors which can be operated using just two fingers, the Squish MTB 26 is a good choice for those looking to get out and explore some trails without breaking the bank.
The Squish MTB 26 has an RRP of £430 and is available from Squish's network of local bike shops.
Scott have several different 26" wheel kids mountain bikes in the sub £500 category for 2020. The 21 speed entry level Scott Roxter and the Contessa both come equipped with V-brakes and forks with 80mm of travel, an alloy frame and cost £449. At that price you should also look at the Giant or Orbea, which come with disc brakes and 100mm of travel.
There's also a Scott Contessa Disc version, which has an alloy frame with low slung top tube, 100mm travel forks and 16 speeds. A Shimano Tourney rear derailleur makes the changes and there's a double chainset at the front. There are Tektro hydraulic brakes front and rear with 160mm rotors.
Scott's website gives an approximate weight of 13.3kg.
BUY NOW: SCOTT CONTESSA DISC FROM TREDZ
The 2020 Scott Roxter Disc has done away with the triple chainset and now has a double in its place with 36-22 teeth. There's an 11-34T Sunrace CSM55 8AV cassette at the rear so a good spread of gear options. It comes with exactly the same spec as the Contessa Disc, but with the different frame design.
Scott's website gives an approximate weight of 13.4kg.
BUY NOW: SCOTT ROXTER DISC FROM TREDZ FOR £449
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 cost. 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 for less than £400.
BUY NOW: THE VOODOO NZUMBI AT HALFORDS
Second Hand Treasures!
This is a cool looking bike - fact. I really liked the "less is more" approach that Mrs Kenny 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 sadly no longer on sale new.
For the money the MTB 1 is a very well specified bike. Lightweight alloy frame - check. Air sprung 120mm front suspension fork - check. SRAM 11 speed chainset with 11-42 rear cassette - check. Tektro hydraulic brakes - check. In fact, it was so good for the money that men bought them to ride, and others to use the components on other bikes! Plus with Laura becoming Mrs Kenny, the brand was obsolete and they were cleared out for a few hundred pounds. An absolute bargain!
From time to time the Trott MTB1 does come up on ebay and is well worth a bid! We found one not so long ago - it's really brilliant. You can read our review here.
Check out ebay for the Trott MTB1
Dawes Academy MTB 26
Unfortunately, Dawes have discontinued their Academy range of quality kids bikes.
The Dawes Academy 26" wheeled mountain bike was built around a triple butted aluminium frame which was available in 13" and 15" sizes. It's equipped with a Spinner 300 air fork (with lockout function) that can be adjusted to suit the child's weight, and provides 100mm of travel.
The drivetrain comprises a Shimano Acera 9 speed shifter coupled up with a Deore rear derailleur and an 11-34T cassette. The front chainset has proportioned crank arms and a 32 tooth chainring. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with matching levers, with 160mm and 140mm rotors front and rear respectively provide the stopping power.
The Academy MTB 26 is a great looking and well specified kids mountain bike. The RRP was £600 in 2018 and Dawes website stated the weight as being 11.26kg.
==> CHECK EBAY FOR THE DAWES ACADEMY 26" WHEEL MTB
There are of course a variety of other kids 26" and 27.5" wheel mountain bikes available for under £500. If we've missed off your favourite, please do drop us a comment in the box below.
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Affiliate disclaimer: some of the links in this post contain affiliate links. If you buy a cheap kids mountain bike via one of them, we get a very small commission, which will help us to continue to run the Cycle Sprog website. Thanks for supporting us in this way.
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