Best Mountain Bikes for Kids 5 to 8 Years Old

You are buying a lifelong passion, not just a bike.

Buying one of the best mountain bikes for kids really starts to pay off in the 5-8 year old category. The children have developed basic bike handling skills.  They start riding faster and pushing into more challenging terrain.  This combined with their increasing weight means that the bike quality can start to have a significant impact on rider performance.  In fact, Bike Austria does not even allow kids to participate in the Kids MTB Summer Camps with a lower end mountain bikes purely for safety reasons.

As you child moves on from the smaller 14″ and 16″ bikes to one of the best mountain bikes with 20″ wheels like those from Early Rider, there are three aspects that require closer consideration for 5, 6, 7, and 8 year olds: Brakes, gearing and suspension.

V-Brakes vs. Disc Brakes

Good V-Brakes (rim brakes) are often still adequate for this age group, due to the lower weight and speeds compared to older children.  However, for more skilled riders, the disc brakes found on the best mountain bikes start to present a huge advantage with their increased power and should be considered.

Singlespeed vs. Shifting Gears

Children are now easly able to manage shifting gears, but that does not mean it is the best choice.  We offer only 20″ bikes with shifting because of our focus on mountain biking and location in the mountains.  However, if you live in a flatter area with more rolling trails, a singlespeed could be a better option.  There are two main and rather significant advantages, reduced weight and reduced maintenance.

Rigid Fork vs. Hardtail vs. Full-Suspension

Bike Austria believes strongly in the development of solid riding skills as preparation for more advanced riding as a child matures. While we do offer full-suspension 20″ bikes like the Early RiderHellion 20x for example, in most cases we recommend Hardtails with a slack geometry and front suspension like the Hellion 20 for kids 7  and 8. Here’s why:

A full-suspension removes too much of the feel for the trail while riding.  We spend a great deal of time in our kids camps and after school programs teaching children about proper riding position. This standing position allows the elbows and knees to function as the primary suspension, while also giving them a feel for the terrain.

A full suspension also compensates too much for poor riding skills, especially poor line choice.  As a child matures and rides more advanced terrain, line choice is paramount even for a pro rider atop the biggest of downhill mountain bikes.  Safety and speed are increased by the correct line choice and is a very important skill for kids to learn.

These facts also make rigid forks a good choice. However, while the rear shock of a full-suspension kids mountain bike does little to add safety while riding, a front fork and slack geometry can make a very big difference for advance little bikers.  In steeper terrain, especially if rough, the risk of an “Endo” (going over the handlebars, increases significantly, forcing the child to ride more cautiously.  This risk is greatly reduced by our recommended Hellion 20.

Best Mountain Bikes for Kids 5-8

Junior Mountain Bike Summer Camp

The Best Mountain Bikes are Nothing Without Great Skills

Bike Austria mountain bike summer camps teach kids the freedom and exhilaration of riding fast and in control. During the 4 day camp, participants as young as 7 will learn to control their mountain bike in many different situations, all while having the time of their life.   They will gain confidence in more challenging terrain. Essential basic techniques will be covered, including braking, turning-techniques, jumps, steep downhill trails, rooty singletrack, switchback corners, and more. More advanced, but essential mountain bike techniques, such as the wheelie drop and bunny hop will also be a part of the summer camp program.

Kids Mountain Bike Camp
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