Best Lightweight Mountain Bikes for Kids

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We’ve been on a quest for the last couple of years to find the best lightweight mountain bikes for kids.  Our family LOVES biking and the weight of a kids’ bike makes a significant difference in how easy it is for them to ride on trails.  

Why Having Lightweight Mountain Bikes for Kids Makes a Difference

When our middle son was young, we found him the cutest bike for his birthday, and ordered it to be delivered a few days before his birthday.  We were shocked when we got the bike and it literally weighed more than he did. It quickly got returned!

Since then, our kids have gotten really into mountain biking.  They’re full-on, eat, sleep, and dream biking, so we’ve done our best to help them figure out the sport.  Mountain biking is a really hard sport that requires a good amount of strength, cardio fitness, skill and endurance.  Throw that all at kids, and it can get really overwhelming FAST! 

The weight of a kids bikes matters SO MUCH!  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Putting little kids on heavy bikes is just a recipe for disaster.  Lightweight mountain bikes make climbing easier, descending smoother, and generally just make mountain biking with kids BETTER!  

Whether you’ve got kids who are getting into mtb racing, or you’re just trying to figure out the trails with your kids in tow, we’ve lined up the best lightweight mountain bikes for kids.

What To Look for in a Lightweight Kids Mountain Bike

There is a HUGE amount of variety in what you’ll find for kids mountain bikes.  There are $100 big box store bikes (please don’t get one), $4,000 custom mountain bikes for kids, and everything in between.

Prevelo Zulu 20″22.96 lb$999
Trailcraft 20″18.07 lb$1,389
Woom Off Air 20″20 lb$999
Prevelo Zulu 24″25.3 lb$1,049
Trailcraft 24″22 lb$1,399-$2,799
Woom Off Air 24″23.4 lb$1,099
Prevelo Zulu 26″26.6 lb$1,099
Trailcraft 26″23.9 lb$1,799-$4,899
Woom Off Air 26″25.4$1,199

Weight of the Mountain Bike

Weight is what we consider the most important factor in a kids bike.  As mentioned above, lightweight bikes just make it all around easier for kids to mountain bike.  

On top of that, any brand who’s serious about making a lightweight kids mountain bike has also done a pretty great job of ensuring that the components are also great quality (in our experience).  You’ll find better gearing, kid specific geometry, and smoother shifting.  

Adjustable Air-Fillled Fork

The second major factor we look for in a kids bike is that it has an adjustable air filled fork.  While kids don’t necessarily need front suspension, many like it, and it does make for a smoother ride.  We’ve found that most front forks on entry level kids mountain bikes to be absolute junk, and are not adjustable at all.  The problem is that most kids don’t weigh enough to even move the fork a reasonable amount, so that front fork is just added weight.  If a kids bike doesn’t have an adjustable front suspension fork, it’s better to just get a rigid fork in the front to save several pounds of weight.  

Gears on the Mountain Bike

Gears are another thing to consider.  Many older kids mountain bikes, or budget bikes will have a 2-3×8 shifting system.  That means that there are 2 or 3 gears in the front and 8 in the back.  While this sounds like a great idea to give kids more gearing options, what it really provides is more confusion.  To simplify things, opt for a 1x drivetrain.  Most kids bikes will have between 6-9 gears, which is plenty for kids.  

Where We Tested Kids Mountain Bikes

We live outside of Park City Utah, right in the mountains.  We have a variety of great singletrack trails nearby where we did the majority of our testing.  We also took a few longer bike trips, where we tested the bikes on bike parks, road trails, and lots of riding in the deserts of Utah.  In addition to having kids ride each bike, we also put each bike up on the bike stand so that we could get a good idea of how the components functioned together, and how well the bike worked overall.  

What Bikes We Tested

We tested several different bikes, all which fall into the trail riding, and cross-country biking categories.  Each bike had front suspension and higher-end components.  Our testers ranged from ages 6-11, and we tested 20”, 24” and 26” mountain bikes for kids.  

Overall Best Lightweight Mountain Bike For Kids:

Trailcraft Cycles 

Hands down, the best lightweight mountain bike that we tested was the Trailcraft Cycles 20” Blue Sky model. It was just incredible.  Not only was it the lightest kids mountain bike that we found, but it just ran smoother and more reliably than any other bike.  The geometry was fantastic and the super smooth shifting was far above the competition.   

The thing that immediately sold me on Trailcraft was the weight.  We buy A LOT of bikes in our family, and the first thing that I always look for is the weight.  I was shocked when I saw that Trailcraft had a 20” bike that weighed just 18 lbs.

When the bike arrived, we spent about 30 minutes putting it together with our son.  The bike was about 90% assembled but still required us to put on the brake levers and shifters.  Many other kids’ bikes come with these already installed, but putting them on ourselves gave us the opportunity to customize the placement for our son, which is a step I usually skip (until one of the kids starts to complain about something).  While it did take a little more time, it was 100% worth it since now the front end of the bike fits him perfectly.  

He was so excited after the bike was assembled that we headed straight to our favorite trail.  In the past, we’ve had some issues doing this with other bikes but we didn’t have any issues or need any adjustments.   I attribute this to the bikes not being mass-produced on an assembly line, but being custom-made one at a time.  The attention to detail was very apparent on those first rides when we didn’t have to make a single adjustment or even tighten down any bolts more.  

Immediately, Ethan’s confidence skyrocketed with that new bike feeling.  He was charging features and terrain that he would normally have walked around so that boost was awesome.  While I don’t think that suspension is really necessary for most kids his age, it was a blast for him to put it to the test on a skills trail with his 16-year-old brother.  We took the bike all over the state, and it’s probably going to come as a surprise, but it did nothing but SHINE!  

Likely, my favorite moments were when we were riding up Zion Canyon, a day with about 22 miles of cycling for the whole family, along the roads of Zion National Park up to The Narrows.  Normally, a ride this long would be too much for his little legs (we planned to hop on the shuttle as a fallback), but he did so well.  In fact, for most of the ride, he was up in the front, keeping pace with our teens.

Trailcraft has a variety of kids’ bikes and we love that there are options to get a ready-made bike or to customize different components based on your child and their riding style. There are always options for custom colors, which is a fun way for kids to personalize their bikes.  

Trailcraft makes several different bikes from the 20” Blue Sky model that we tested up to full suspension bikes for kids. Make sure you read our full review here. 

Prevelo Zulu Bikes

We put the Prevelo Zulu 26” bike to the test for the last several months and it performed really well.  While not super lightweight, the geometry and great components made up for the additional weight.  

When we opened up the bike box, I was surprised at how much of the bike was assembled.  All we had to install was the handlebar, seatpost, pedals, and one wheel.  This makes it easy for parents who aren’t completely bike-savvy to get kids rolling as soon as possible. We mistakenly assumed that everything would be good to go, but now know that we still should have done a once-over on everything on the bike since the seat wasn’t attached tight and actually fell off on my son’s first ride. While this was a little bit of a surprise, you can easily avoid the same problem by just doing a quick check of all the connections and bolts before you hit the trail. 

Overall, I’d say that the bike is set up for an average rider.  We did a few small adjustments to brake and shifter positions (super easy with an Allen wrench) to customize it to fit how my son rides.  Overall, we love that it’s easy to get started on and easy to make adjustments!

The Prevelo Zulu line is designed for trail riding for kids, but the Zulu 5 caught our attention since 26” bikes can be difficult to find for kids.  The geometry has kids low, making them feel more stable on the bike.  We always say that race cars turn better than semis and the geometry gets our kids weight lower so they can really stay balanced and get the most out of their turns.

When our son transitioned to the Prevelo Zulu 5, he was halfway through a summer mountain bike class.  He was so eager to get out on the trails that he took his bike out with his class the day that he got the bike.  The improvement in his skills was FAST!  After his first practice on his Prevelo, his coach commented on how much stronger his skills all around.  I knew that he hadn’t suddenly gotten stronger in the last 2 days, but that his bike weight and geometry made a difference.  As the weeks went on, we saw other improvements as well.  Not only could he climb more easily, but his endurance went up (thank you kid specific cranks and drivetrain), his confidence on the downhill increased and he progressed several levels.  Believe me when I say that the change in his riding was shocking.  His previous bike was about 3 pounds heavier than his Prevelo Zulu 5, so these few pounds saved do make a difference for him. 

And the difference was not just in the weight.  When a few things became easier for him, suddenly his confidence skyrocketed.  He was riding trails that he would previously walk big portions of, and he was just having a lot more fun overall.  Such an incredible change! We wrote a full review of the Prevelo Zulu 5 here, if you have more questions.

While the Prevelo Zulu bikes are lightweight, they’re not in the ultralight category like a Trailcraft or Woom bike, so kids will still have to work to earn their turns.  However, this bike seems to fly on downhill, which is exactly what it’s designed for!

WOOM Off Air

The WOOM Off Air is a fantastic mountain bike for kids who are intermediate and higher mountain bikers.  We’ve long loved Woom bikes for riding around town and were thrilled to test their offroad model.  It’s very lightweight and is well-built overall. 

Straight out of the box, most of the Woom Off Air was easygoing.  In fact, our 9-year-old put most of it together himself, with just a little bit of help from mom and dad.  The handlebar, wheels, and pedals were the main components that needed to be put on before the bike was ride ready.  In total, it took him about 25 minutes to do everything, but most adults could have it done in 10 minutes.  

We were excited to hit the trail and went straight to his favorite trail.  We were a little bit disappointed when as he started climbing, it became clear that the derailleur needed quite a bit of adjusting.  I’m really not good with things like that, but luckily my teenage son was there and made a few minor adjustments to make it shift better, but my husband had to do some more adjusting to fine-tune it when we got home that evening.  It is pretty common for bikes to need some adjusting after the first few weeks of riding, but we were surprised that the Woom Off Air needed so much adjustment straight out of the box.  In the future, we’ll check the shifting more closely before hitting the trails, which would have alleviated our on-trail frustrations

Since my son is so light, we love that Off Air has an air fork.  This means that the front fork can be adjusted to different pressures to suit your child perfectly.  There are a lot of entry-level kids mountain bikes out there and most do not have this, so he can barely get the suspension to move at all unless it’s adjusted for his weight.  (This is true for most kids, not just lightweight kids). 

Overall, it seems like the Woom Off Air is best designed for cross country riding, which is perfect since that’s what our kids prefer.  It’s not designed for big drops or jumps.  The lightweight design makes it especially easy to climb, and of course easy on the downhills.  It has a pretty solid geometry that’s not super aggressive, but still allows kids to really grow and progress in their skills.  

This is a great bike for kids who will be doing a lot of climbing since it’s really lightweight, so the bike weight won’t slow them down.

We think that the Woom Off Air is an excellent option for smaller or really lightweight kids, like my son, since weight makes a huge difference in their ability to ride well.  For kids who are really lightweight, I actually recommend getting a Woom Off, without the front suspension, since you’ll save 3 more pounds, which is a massive weight cut for a bike.  Most kids don’t really need suspension unless they’re riding more technical trails, so they can get by without it, and the weight makes a big enough difference to make that a real consideration to look into.   

Want to read the full review of the Woom Off Air? Check it out here. 

Looking for more bike reviews? Check out these next.

More Questions?

  • What size bike should I get for my child?
    • The size of the bike should match your child’s height and inseam. Kids’ bikes are sized by wheel diameter, ranging from 12″ for the smallest riders, up to 24″ or 26″ for older kids. Use a size chart specific to the bike brand as a guide.  If your child is right between 2 sizes, we recommend going UP (unless they’re a nervous biker).  We try to move our kids up to the next wheel size ASAP since bigger wheels tend to make mountain biking easier for kids.  
  • What safety equipment does my child need for mountain biking?
    • Essential safety equipment includes a well-fitting helmet (preferably with mips), gloves for grip and protection, and water (either a bottle or a hydration pack).  We also always have a spare tube, pump and a tool for bike repairs along the trail.  Our older kids carry their own and we carry supplies for the younger kids. Read our Bike Safety Post next.
  • What’s the difference between a mountain bike and a regular bike for kids?
    • Mountain bikes have wider, knobbier tires for better traction on singletrack terrain, more robust frames, and often have suspension to absorb bumps. Regular bikes might have narrower tires, are designed for pavement or light trails, and typically don’t have advanced features like suspension.
  • How do I know if my child’s bike fits them correctly?
    • Ensure your child can stand over the bike frame with both feet flat on the ground, has a slight bend in the knee when the pedal is at its lowest point, and can reach the handlebars and brakes comfortably without overextending.
  • What maintenance does a kids’ mountain bike require?
    • Regular maintenance includes checking tire pressure, ensuring brakes and gears function properly, lubricating the chain, and inspecting the bike for any loose parts or damage. The easiest thing that kids can do to take care of their bike is to wash it regularly.  As kids get older, they can learn to clean and lube a chain, which makes a world of difference for smoother pedaling.  
  • Is suspension necessary for a kids’ mountain bike?
    • Suspension can provide a more comfortable ride on rough terrain, but it also adds weight. For young or lightweight riders, or those mostly riding on smoother trails, a rigid bike that’s lighter weight might be a better option.  If you do choose for front suspension, only get an adjustable air filled shock.  
  • What is the best way to introduce my child to mountain biking?
    • Start on easy, flat trails and gradually introduce more challenging terrain. Teach basic skills like braking, shifting gears, and navigating obstacles. Make it fun and focus on building confidence and enjoyment.  If you have really young kids, get a front bike seat designed for mountain biking so they can start getting excited about riding trails on their own.  For kids just learning how to mountain bike, we always recommend taking a Tow-Whee to help them up hills so they don’t get completely exhausted and discouraged with every climb.  
  • How do I choose between a hardtail and full suspension bike for my child?
    • Hardtail bikes, with suspension only in the front, are lighter, simpler, and often less expensive. They’re a good choice for most young riders. Full suspension bikes are better for super rough terrain band are designed with pretty advanced riders in mind.  Unless your child is doing a lot of downhill specific riding or racing, a hardtail is the best option for most kids.  
About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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