Best Kids Mountain Bikes for Recreational Use

Mountain bikes for kids can range from $100 Walmart specials to $800 bike shop best-sellers, or $8,000+ mountain machines. That’s because a “mountain bike” serves different purposes for different riders.

The best kids mountain bike really depends on how and where your child plans on riding. Do they just want a cool, rugged-style bike for the neighborhood, or are they interested in tackling beginner dirt trails?

A $100 girls or boys mountain bike is not equipped or designed for trail riding, even if it has suspension! A high-quality $600 kids mountain bike, however, is overkill for a child riding mainly around the neighborhood.

side by side image of a boy on a recreational kids mountain bike, and another boy on a true kids mountain bike

As a result, we have grouped our best kids mountain bikes list into two categories – recreational mountain bikes, and true mountain bikes. This page will mainly address recreational mountain bikes.

To see our favorite true mountain bikes for developing kid shredders, head over to our Best Kids Front Suspension 24″ Mountain Bikes article or our Best 20 Inch Mountain Bikes article.

Recreational Kids Mountain Bikes: Comparison Chart

When selecting a bike for your child, try to be generous with your budget. In general, the more you spend on a bike, the easier the bike will be for your child to ride, the less maintenance it will require, and the longer it will last.

Decent recreational mountain bikes typically start around $200. True mountain bikes with quality components start at about $600.

To help you get a good starting reference point, the chart below focused on 24″ bikes weights and MSRP, but almost all of these models are also available in a 20″ size.

Bike 24" Weight 24" Price
Basic Recreational Mountain Bikes
Btwin Rockrider ST100 30 lb. $99
Schwinn High Timber 30 lb. $379
Quality Recreational Mountain Bikes w/o Suspension Forks
Polygon Ultralight 23.1 lb. $330
REI REV Plus 28.2 lb. $439
Quality Recreational Mountain Bikes with Suspension Forks
Polygon Premier XC 25.7 lb. $329
Trek Precaliber Suspension 26.5 lb. $469
Entry Level True Mountain Bikes
Vitus Plus 25.5 lb. $499
Cannondale Cujo 24+ $585
Specialized Riprock 24.7 lb. $700

Boys vs. Girls Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes for boys and girls on 20 and 24″ bikes are typically just differences in color. A few models on this list have differences in frame design with the top tube of the bike being lower on the girls model, but all other components are the same.

side by side comparison of the schwinn ranger boys mountain bike and the schwinn ranger girls mountain bike

Quick Tips about Recreational Mountain Bikes:

  • SIZE: Many parents mistakenly purchase the wrong size bike. 20″ bikes typically fit 6 to 8-year-olds, 24″ fit 9 to 11-year-olds. Using your child’s inseam is the best way to determine fit. Budget bikes are also typically larger than more expensive bikes.
  • GEARS: While many cheaper bikes offer a lot of gears (up to 18 or 21), more gears are not better. Bikes with 6 to 8 gears are best. Bikes with more gears usually require 2 derailleurs (one for the front wheel and one for the rear), with a shifter for both the right and left hand. These are more challenging for kids to use, require more maintenance, and add unnecessary weight to a bike.
  • WEIGHT OF BIKE: Be cautious of weight – some recreational mountain bikes can weigh up to 40 lbs! Shoot for a bike between 20 and 30 lbs. – the lighter the better.
  • SUSPENSION FORKS: Suspension forks on recreational bikes are designed for casual riding only. They are not designed to take the beating from real trails but rather for basic dirt trails and small jumps around the neighborhood. They also tend to be very stiff and heavy. They can add up to 5+ lbs. of unnecessary weight, especially on low-end budget bikes.
  • COST: Quality bikes that are durable enough to last several years without major maintenance start around $300 – $400. When possible, increasing your budget will save you a lot of hassle in potential maintenance, along with improved quality and overall performance of the bike.
  • ASSEMBLY: Even if a budget bike comes assembled, we highly recommend taking it to a local bike shop to have it properly tuned. Brakes and derailleurs are notorious for needing a tune-up even when the bike is new.
  • MAINTENANCE: To ensure the longevity of a geared bike, make sure your child doesn’t rest their bike down on the derailleur. Always place a bike on the ground with the derailleur (or chain side) up!

Budget Recreational Mountain Bikes

These bikes are typically sold at big-box stores or on Amazon. While they have a very family-friendly price tag, they are typically very difficult to maintain due to poor components and overall low quality of construction.

Weight is typically an issue as they can often weigh up to half of a child’s weight (close to 30% is recommended). For motivated riders who are willing to power through the “clunkiness” of these budget bikes, they work for around the neighborhood.

When possible, spending an extra $100 or $200 can get you a much better quality bike that is not only easier and more enjoyable for your child to ride, but will require much less maintenance.

Huffy Scout

A good looking 24″ budget option

stock image of a gray huffy scout mountain bike

MSRP: $250


WEIGHT: 36.4 lb.

GEARS/SHIFTER: 21-speed, Microshift dual grip shifters

SUSPENSION: Yes, but very stiff

Out of all the budget bikes we tested, the Scout is by far the best-looking bike in person. Its clean designs and color combinations really give off a true mountain bike vibe. But weighing in at an insanely high 36.4 lb., the Scout’s performance certainly doesn’t match its cool factor.

Although Huffy boasts about its Shimano components, this really doesn’t mean much. Its two derailleurs are entry-level Shimano while the shifters are not Shimano at all. The shifters worked well on the bike we tested, but they were a bit stiff and difficult to twist, making them best for kids who will only need to shift periodically.

The overall frame design of the Scout is better than the Roadmaster, so if your child can handle its extreme weight, it will offer a better riding experience than the Roadmaster.

Basic Recreational Mountain Bikes

These bikes are considerably better than the budget bikes listed above. While their components may be the same or only slightly better than the entry-level bikes, their overall quality of construction is improved.

From cleaner welds on the frame, more precise fitting components, and lighter weight construction, these bikes are worthy of their higher prices but certainly aren’t top-notch.

Btwin Rockrider ST100

Great geometry, quality brakes and 1x drivetrain

MSRP: $99

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20″ – 24.4″; 24″ – 30.2 lb.

GEARS/SHIFTER: 20″ – single speed, 24″ – 6 speed

SUSPENSION: No, but suspension available on higher-end ST900 model

The Rockrider is hands down the BEST bike you can buy under $200. Only available through Decathlon (the popular international sporting goods now in the US!), the Btwin Rockrider offers great geometry and quality of build for its low price.

While the Rockriders are heavy, they stand out from other budget brands as they don’t feel heavy in use, and they actually perform more like a mid-range bike than a budget bike. The brakes on the Rockrider are exceptionally responsive as is its grip shifter. The tires also include plenty of tread for use on all-terrain surfaces.

The 20″ Rockrider, however, is a single-speed. It still features the same responsive brakes and knobby tires as the 24″, but is less ideal for those tackling hilly areas.

Schwinn Ranger Aluminum

Quality built frame with true decals instead of stickers

schwinn high timber 24 mountain bike for kids

MSRP: $300

SIZES AVAILABLE: 24″ (boys and girls models)


SUSPENSION: Yes, but very stiff

The Schwinn High Timber aluminum is a great looking bike that offers easy to use 1x gearing (only one derailleur), wide knobby tires as well as a quality aluminum frame.

For more advanced riders, the High Timber is also available in a ALX model with mechanical disc brakes. While the brakes are an upgrade, the bike also has 21 gears, versus 7, which requires 2 derailleurs which are usually much more confusing for kids to use.

Quality Recreational Mountain Bikes

These quality bikes feature lightweight frames and are built with increased precision and better components. The brakes on these bikes are more responsive and take less effort to engage.

Wheels are built stronger and are less likely to bend or become out of true when riding down stairs or going over jumps. These bikes are also built with derailleur hangers to protect the bike’s frame, which makes fixing “broken gears” easier and cheaper.

If you’re looking for a solid quality bike that can take a beating from your ambitious rider and their siblings, these bikes should be your minimum starting point.

Polygon Ultralight

A quality, lightweight bike for paved and basic dirt riding

polygon ultralight lightweight kids mountain bike

MSRP: $299 / $349

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20″ – 20.75 lb., 24″ – 23.1 lb.

GEARS/SHIFTER: 7 gears with Shimano Tourney grip shifter


The Polygon Ultralight is hands down the best kids’ bike you can get in its mid-tier price range. Built with a lightweight aluminum frame with a Shimano drivetrain, the Polygon’s quality of build is on par with many kids’ bikes found in bike shops. Lightweight and nimble and a great option for neighborhood cruisers or kids tackling longer paved bike trails.

How is Polygon able to keep their prices down? Polygon Bikes are one of the few bike companies that own their own manufacturing plant (out of Indonesia) and also sells consumer direct (via Without several middlemen, Polygon can provide top-quality bikes with a lower price tag.

Available in 20″ and 24″ sizes and several options, the Ultralite is a great recreational mountain bike for boys and girls. Available with or without a suspension fork.

Btwin Rockrider ST900

Killer quality and components on a budget

stock image of btwin rockrider st900 24" mountain bike

MSRP: $329/ $349

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 24″ – 27.5 lb.

BRAKES: Mechanical disc brakes

GEARS/SHIFTER: 6-speed Shimano Altus

SUSPENSION: SR Suntour XCT coil fork w/ 80 mm travel

With a trail-rated suspension fork, a lightweight aluminum frame, and mechanical disc brakes, the Rockrider ST900 offers a lot for its price tag. While not as fine-tuned or lightweight as the more expensive bikes on our true mountain bike list, the Rockrider is certainly capable enough for beginning mountain bikers who are hitting basic single-track trails. At the same time, it’s also quite at home blasting around the neighborhood.

With an upgraded Shimano Altus derailleur for responsive shifting, lightweight aluminum components (including frame, crankset and seat tube) and mechanical disc brakes, the Rockriders is spec’d better than many higher-priced bikes!

For those young groms who love hitting jumps or curbs or singletrack, the Rockrider’s Suntour XCT stands ready for action offering 80mm of travel.

Trek Precaliber

Nimble bike for neighborhood riders who love to catch air

red trek precaliber mountain bike

MSRP: 20″ geared model – $329 ; 24″ models – $359, $389 (with suspension)

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20″ geared model – 24 lb.; 24″ models – 25 lb. / 26.5 lb. (with suspension)

BRAKES: V-brakes

GEARS/SHIFTER: 20″ geared model – 7-speed Shimano Tourney; 24″ models – 8-speed with Shimano Tourney

SUSPENSION: 20″ – Casual use fork with 35mm travel; 24″ – Causal use for with 45mm travel

FULL REVIEW: Trek Precaliber 24

Whether your little rider is convinced that a mountain bike MUST have a suspension fork, or they love doing bunny hops or wheelies around the neighborhood, the Trek Precaliber with suspension is an awesome option! Built with the look and feel of a true mountain bike, but with basic components to keep the cost down, the Precaliber is our favorite recreational mountain bike.

The Precaliber is available in 20″ and 24″ models, with and without suspension. The Precaliber 20″ without suspension is a single-speed model and also has a coaster brake. As a result, we don’t recommend it for riders who want some of the functionalities of a mountain bike. The 20″ model with suspension is geared and does not have a coaster brake.

The 24″ Precaliber models are essentially the same, except one model has a suspension fork and one doesn’t. The weight difference between the two is under 2 lbs., so unless you plan to only ride on paved surfaces, we recommended the suspension version.


Great geometry, mid-fat tire without a hefty price tag

rei co-op cycles rev plus recreational mountain bike

MSRP: $379 / $439

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20″ – 24.5 lb.; 24″ – 28.2 lb.

BRAKES: Tektro mechanical disc brakes

GEARS/SHIFTER: 20″ – 6-speed Shimano Tourney; 24″ – 7-speed Shimano Tourney

SUSPENSION: None – but cushioning provided by plus size tires

FULL REVIEW: REI REV Plus 20 and 24

From its modern matte paint job to its cool, yet functional 2.6″ wide plus-size tires, the REV Plus performs as great as it looks. Designed for adventurous kids ready to tackle the neighborhood jungle, as well as basic dirt trails, the REV’s plus size tires provide plenty of traction as well as extra cushioning when traveling on uneven terrain or over jumps.

The Tektro mechanical disc brakes on the REV Plus provide extra stopping power for trail riding, but the grip shift (versus trigger shift) keep it from being a great option for true single track where quick and easy shifting is a necessity. (If you read our full review, we discuss how to upgrade this bike to make it more single track ready.)

As an added bonus, the REV Plus can be shipped to your local REI for assembly. Simply order the bike online and they will give you a call once it’s ready for action! Better yet, with REI’s hassle-free return policy, you won’t be up a creek if the Plus doesn’t end up being a great fit for your child.

Entry Level True Mountain Bikes

While many of the recreational bikes on this list are certainly capable of riding on basic dirt trails, we wouldn’t recommend purchasing them specifically for mountain biking. Based on our experience with our own kids, a true mountain bike needs powerful and reliable disc brakes and upgraded drivetrains paired with a responsive shifter. For more aggressive kids who need a suspension fork, the fork on these bikes are less for show, and all about performance.

Due to their expensive components (good suspension forks can easily cost hundreds of dollars), true mountain bikes for kids can range from $500 to $5,000 + dollars. For those who want a trail-worthy bike, but aren’t quite ready to buy a high-end two wheeled machine, here are our favorite entry-level true mountain bikes.

**For a complete rundown of our favorite trail-worthy bikes, be sure to check out our Best True Mountain Bikes for Kids article.**

Vitus Plus

Hydraulic disc brakes, upgraded shifter, and plus size tires

silver vitus plus boys mountain bike

MSRP: $449 / $499

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20 “– 22 lb.; 24″ – 25. lb.

BRAKES: Tektro Hydraulic Disc

GEARS/SHIFTER: Shimano Altus Rapidfire 7 speed (Trigger)


With upgraded Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano Altus trigger shifters, the Vitus series steals the show by offering a killer component set with a budget-friendly price tag! Although the Vitus Plus has a rigid fork, its 2.6″ wide Vee Crown Gem tires offer a good amount of cushioning for trail riding.

For those who want a suspension fork, the Vitus Nucleus line has additional upgrades to the Plus and also comes with a Spinner Grind Air fork for just $599. What’s the catch?

While our kid bike testers have been big fans of Vitus bikes, and we parents have loved their low prices, shipping can be quite expensive. Shipping from the UK, we’ve seen rates as low as $40, but as high as $139.

Cannondale Trail

Quality disc brakes with a trail-worthy suspension fork

green cannondale trail boys mountain bike

MSRP: $510


BRAKES: Mechanical Disc

GEARS/SHIFTER: 8 speed Microshift Trigger

SUSPENSION: Suntour XCT w/ 63mm travel

The Cannondale Trail kicks is up a notch for true trail riders by offering mechanical disc brakes and a more advanced front suspension fork.

For increased stopping power at higher speeds, the Trail’s mechanical disc brakes allow a rider to stop faster and with more power compared to standard v-brakes that are offered on most recreational mountain bikes.

The Suntour fork on the Trail also offers more cushioning with 63 mm of travel (versus the 50 mm on the Specialized Hotrock).

The Cannondale Trail is available at some local bike shops, but also at REI. Either way, you shouldn’t have to worry about assembly.

Trek Roscoe

Lightweight and nimble, plus-size tire bike

red and black Trek Roscoe mountain bike

MSRP: $459 / $519

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20″ – 23.5 lb, 24″ – 25.5 lb.

BRAKES: Mechanical Disc

GEARS/SHIFTER: 8 speed / Shimano Altus trigger

SUSPENSION: None, mid-fat tires

Built to inspire confidence on and off the trail, the Trek Roscoe has the styling of an adult mountain bike in a pint size package. With 2.8″ wide mid-fat tires, the Roscoe offers plenty of traction for a wide variety of terrains, and when the psi is lowered on trail, they also offer a good amount of cushioning. (About equal to a basic suspension fork!)

To help Roscoe’s mid-fat tires come to a quick stop, the Roscoe comes equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes with 160mm front and rear rotors. The brakes on the Roscoe really differentiate it from the similar-looking, but cheaper, REI Co-Op Cycles REV Plus. The REV also has 2.8″ wide tires, but it doesn’t have the stopping power of the Roscoe. The Roscoe is also 4 pounds lighter.

Specialized Riprock

Modern geometry with plus-size tires and a suspension fork

Specialized Riprock 24 in orange

MSRP: $650 / $700

SIZES AVAILABLE: 20″ and 24″

WEIGHT: 20″ – 22.6 lb., 24″ – 24.7 lb.

BRAKES: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

GEARS/SHIFTER: 9 speed Microshift Trigger

SUSPENSION: Only on $1,500 Riprock Expert, Manitou JUNIT 24, 100mm travel

Redesigned from top to bottom, the Specialized Riprock is a true mini shredder ready to guide adventurous kids down everything from flowy single track root-strewn chunky trails. With 9 gears with a wide gear range, easy to engage Microshift shifters and knobby Ground Control tires, the Riprock is a capable pony for mini groms.

For those looking to tackle chunky trails at speed, the Riprock Expert (only available in 24″), steps it up with a 100mm Manitou air fork and an 11 speed SRAM NX drivetrain.

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