Best kids 26″ wheel mountain bikes 2022

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This post covers the best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes and we've tried to cater for all budgets.   The majority of the junior 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, plus the occasional full suspension bike too.

We've also got another article 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, plus an article on full suspension kids mountain bikes if that's what you're looking for.

Before you start take a moment to GRAB YOUR FREE KIDS BIKE BUYING CHECKLIST which will help you record all the information you need to find the perfect bike for your child. 

The Best Kids 26" wheel mountain bikes

GT Stomper Ace 26 in green

GT Stomper Ace 26″

Key data:

Price: £370
Minimum Height: 154-160cm
Inside Leg: 71-76cm
Bike weight: 12.95kg
Brakes: Promax mechanical disc
Frame: 26" GT LegitFit Design, alloy w/ replaceable hanger
Tyres: Kenda Small Block Eight, 26 x 2.1"
Available colours: Silver/black
Warranty: Frame - lifetime; Components - 1 year

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.

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Cuda Trace 20 kids bike

Cuda Trace 26

Key data:

Typical age range: 8+ years;
Bike weight: 10.7kg
Brakes: Alloy V-Brake with Alloy Tektro Junior Short Reach Lever With Adjustable Reach
Gears: 7 speed with 14-34T cassette and Shimano M315 7 Speed Shifter, compatible with Sureshift
Suspension: No
6061 Aluminium
Tyres: Kenda Small Block 8 26 x 1.5″
Available colours: Purple, orange, blue
Warranty: 12 months

The Cuda Trace 26 was a brand new bike last year - launched during Winter 2020.   It's a lightweight aluminium bike ideal for both on-road and venturing off-road to tackle muddy trails and comes fitted with the ever-popular Kenda small block 8 tyres.

The Trace is the latest range from Cuda, and they've placed considerable emphasis on getting the contact points right with short-reach brake levers, correctly proportioned cranks and a correctly sized saddle.

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Frog MTB 69

Frog MTB 69

Forme Black Rocks 26

Forme Black Rocks 26

If you’re in the market for a junior full-suspension mountain bike then it’s well worth a look at the brand new Forme Black Rock 26.   

Price wise it sits in that mid way point between a hard tail mountain bike and the much more expensive full suspension bikes that will set you back several thousand quid.

Forme have taken the learnings from their adult Black Rocks mountain bike range and their junior Kinder range and melded it into the Black Rocks 26, giving you a good entry level full suspension bike.

Squish MTB 26

The Squish MTB 26 is Squish’s 26″ wheeled mountain bike with a 13″ frame aimed at kids aged 9+.

The MTB 26 comes with a range of features now common-place on quality children’s bikes, such as, a tuneable air suspension fork, disc brakes and a lightweight, aluminium frame.


Whyte 403 Kids Mountain Bike

Key data:

Price: £625
Bike size: 26" wheel
Height: 135-152 cm
Brakes: Promax Solve disc brakes, 160mm Rotor
Frame: 6061 hydroformed aluminium
Forks: Suntour XCR - 100mm Travel, HYDRO Lock-out, Air Spring, Adjustable Rebound
Gears: 9 speed - 28T single chainring, 11-40T cassette and Shimano Altus SL-M310 thumb shifter
Tyres: WTB Bronson Race, 26" X 2.1" Front, WTB Riddler, 26" X 1.95" Rear
Available colours: Matt granite/grey/silver shown here and Matt Orange
Weight: 12.7 kg
Warranty: Frame: 2 years - can be extended to 4 years if registered within 28 days of purchase. Doesn't cover racing, jumping or tricks

When the world of adult mountain bikes changed over to 27.5" wheels, Whyte bikes invested a great deal of time and energy to create high quality 26" wheel mountain bikes for junior riders, and to this day they continue to cater for kids and junior bikers.

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Nukeproof Cub Scout Sport 26

Nukeproof Cub Scout Sport 26

Key data:

Bike size: 26" wheels
Age: 10+ years
Rider height: 140-158 cm
Inside leg: 64-70 cm
Standover: 616.4 mm
Brakes: Tektro M276 Kids Specific Hydraulic Brakes
Frame: Custom triple-butted hydro-formed 6061 Alloy
Forks: X-Fusion RC32 27.5” Air Suspension forks, Bolt-thru Axle
Gears: 8 speed - 32 single chainring, 11-42T cassette and BOX FOUR shifter
Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 26" x 2.5” EXO TR (Tubeless Ready)
Available colours: Bullet grey
Weight: 12 kg
Warranty: 5 years frame 2 years components

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Nukeproof Cub Scout Race 26

Nukeproof Cub Scout Race 26

Key data:

Price: £999
Bike size: 26" wheel
Age: 10+ years
Rider height: 140-158 cm
Inside leg: 64-70 cm
Standover: 655.5 mm
Brakes: Tektro M291 Kids Specific Hydraulic Brakes
Frame: Custom triple-butted hydro-formed 6061 Alloy
Forks: Manitou Markhor 27.5” TS Air, 120mm Travel, Custom Kids tune, BOOST 15x110mm Bolt-thru Axle
Gears: 10 speed - Shimano Deore M4100 rapid-fire shifter, 32T single chainring and 11-46T cassette
Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 26" x 2.5” EXO TR (Tubeless Ready)
Available colours: Bottle blue
Weight: 11.83 kg
Warranty: 5 years frame 2 years components

If the Cub Scout Sport isn't enough then Nukeproof have developed the 'Race' version of the Cub Scout into one seriously high spec machine!

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DMR Sect

DMR Sect Jump bike

Key data:

Price: £799
Bike size: 26" wheel - available in one size and is suitable for all riders taller than 4’5” or 137cm
Frame: 4130 chromoly for strength
Forks: RST Dirt 100 with rebound adjustment
Gears: Single speed - 32 tooth single chainset with 13T rear sprocket
Brakes: Tektro M275 hydraulic 160mm
Tyres: Kenda Small Block 8 26x2.1”
Available colours: Envy Green, Matte Navy
Weight: 13.5 kg
Warranty: Frame 1 year

Jump bikes are designed for having fun dirt jumping and flying around pump tracks and skateparks. With a 4130 chromoly frame built for punishment and RST Dirt forks with adjustable rebound damping, it's good to go.

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Saracen Mantra HT 2.6

Saracen Mantra HT 2.6

Key data:

Price: £650
Typical age range: 12+ years
Minimum Height: 150-165cm
Bike weight: 13.25kg
Brakes: Tektro HDM-286 160mm
Frame: Series 2 custom butted and hydroformed 6061 alloy tubeset
Tyres: Kenda Kinetic 26 x 2.10" / 60tpi
Available colours: Grey
Warranty: Limited lifetime for the original owner

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 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.

BUY NOW: Saracen Mantra HT 2.6  from Tredz. 

Orange Zest 26

Orange Zest 26″

Key data:

Price: £1000
Minimum Height: 146-158cm
Brakes: SRAM Level
Frame: 6061 Aluminium
Tyres: Vittoria Goma 2.25 Folding
Available colours: Orange
Warranty: Tbc

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.

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 NEW: Orange Zest 26" mountain bike at Tredz

BUY SECONDHAND: Orange Zest 26" on eBay 

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 - is this the best bike for a 10 year old boy?

Whyte 403

Key data:

Price: £599
Typical age range: years;
Minimum Height: 147 cm;
Inside Leg: cm;
Brakes: Promax Solve, 160mm Rotor;
Frame: 6061 Hydro Formed T6 Aluminium;
Tyres: WTB Bronson Race;
Available colours: Granite/grey/silver and green;
Warranty: Frame: 2 years - can be extended to 4 years if registered within 28 days of purchase. Doesn't cover racing, jumping or tricks

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

BUY SECONDHAND: Whyte 403 from eBay 

Whyte 405 26" wheel mountain bike

Whyte 405 hardtail

Key data:

Price: £950
Typical age range: years;
Minimum Height: cm;
Inside Leg: cm;
Brakes: Tektro Auriga;
Frame: 6061 Alloy;
Tyres: WTB Trail Boss;
Available colours: Blue and orange;
Warranty: Frame: 2 years - can be extended to 4 years if registered within 28 days of purchase. Doesn't cover racing, jumping or tricks

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

BUY NOW: Click here to buy the Whyte 405

BUY SECONDHAND: Whyte 405 from eBay 

Discontinued bikes

2018 Dawes Academy 26 MTB

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. 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.


How to start cycling with your kids

Fuel prices have reached record levels, and they're unlikely to drop any time soon.  Swapping to cycling for shorter local journeys is often quoted as being a quick way to save money.

But how do you do this if you've got a family????

Don't panic - Cycle Sprog is here to help!

Here's a selection of articles to get you started - and don't forget to sign up for our FREE guide to cycling to school 



Hi, My 11 year old (around 5ft tall) is keen on a dirt jump bike.
I can see many used on Ebay, but concerned about wear and tear on these.
Are there any good discontinued models that I could buy cheaper to get him started?

Penny Millar

Hi SK. Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, jump bikes aren’t our area of expertise. We’d recommend joining the Little Rippers MTB group on Facebook as you might find someone there who is able to help. Good luck! Penny


How do you buy a bike on this web site


Hi Dylan, we don’t sell bikes ourselves but provide links to the retailers who stock each brand we mention. Regards

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