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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 .
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.
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.
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.
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 9 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 decent braking power when needed. The wheels comprise Alex rims, Joytech hubs 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 the other bikes on this page, as it doesn't have the added weight of the suspension fork.
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 2019 models have got two new colour schemes - neon orange and flash green.
With a bike at this price point you get 21 gears and Shimano Tourney thumb operated shifters for changing through the cassette. This means you're sacrificing simplicity for price. The triple chainset at the front means that your child will have to master changing gears correctly with both hands. You do really need to pay over £400 if you're looking for a simpler gearing system with only one set of gears to worry about.
An upgrade from some cheaper kids mountain bikes 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 £365.
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. For the 2019 range we're seeing 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 £399.
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 five different 26" wheel kids mountain bikes in the sub £500 category. The 21 speed entry level Scott Roxter 620 and the Contessa 610 both come equipped with V-brakes and forks with 80mm of travel, weigh in at 13.5kg and cost £380. At that price you're probably better looking at the Giant or Orbea, which come with disc brakes and 100mm of travel.
Next in the range is the Scott Roxter 610, which weighs in at 14kg and costs £440. Unlike the other bikes over £400, the 610 model (pictured below) still has the complexity of 21 gears. Some people like to boast about having a huge range of gears, but our experience says kids find a single chainring easier to use.
The Roxter 610 sports a 100mm travel SR Suntour XCE28 front fork and has disc brakes all round. The bike is available in different frame sizes to cater for different heights of rider.
There's a similarly priced "girls" version called the Scott Contessa 600, which has a slightly different frame shape and a pink saddle, which is also ideal for boys whose favourite colour is pink and like lots of gears!
Note that the Contessa 600 is the same spec as the Roxter 610, not the Roxter 600, and the Contessa 610 is the same spec as the Roxter 620. It seems that there's no "girls" equivalent of the top of the range bike, the Roxter 600.
If loads of gears are your thing, then the next model up in the range has 24 of them! The Scott Roxter 600 (£499) has a 11-34T Sunrace CSM55 8AV cassette at the rear and a Shimano FC-TY701 42x34x24 chainset at the front.
Components are slightly upgraded than on the 610, but this bike weighs in at 14.5kg, which is heavier than the Squish and the Hoy (the next bike on the list), so do think about the impact this extra weight might have if you live in a very hilly area and your child needs to push it (or you're lifting the bike onto the roof of your car!).
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 £400.
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!
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.
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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