With present-day internet exposure, kids can see what’s being done on a mountain bike from the device in their hands. With videos from the likes of Danny MacAskill and Brandon Semenuk going viral, it’s no wonder some youngsters are wanting to sample the fun mountain biking has to offer. Mixing this visual spark with a bit of parental influence creates the perfect formula for getting the car loaded up ready for a weekend trip to the local trails. But if they're not quite ready for 650B or even 26-inch wheeled bikes, 24 might just be the perfect balance of speed and geometry. But what are the best 24-inch mountain bikes for kids ready to take on the trails?
Well, there’s plenty of factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a new bike for a young rider, and getting the wrong one can instantly kill the buzz, resulting in a bike that gets abandoned to the back of the shed.
To maintain high stoke levels, getting the best bike for your riding location, desired riding genre, and of course budget is absolutely essential, and the bike’s weight, suspension travel, geometry and component selection all play an integral part in creating the best possible riding experience. To help with the decision, Bike Perfect has patrolled the market for the best options and put together a guide listing what to consider when buying the best 24-inch mountain bikes.
Scroll down to our pick of the best, or head to the bottom to see what you should know before pressing the purchase button.
Best 24-inch mountain bikes
Vitus is well known for creating top-performing bikes at extremely good price points, and the Nucleus 24 shows its youth bikes are no different. The Nucleus 24 is based on an award-winning bike from Vitus’ adult range which means its geometry numbers are dialed. It's not just a mini adult bike, though. A few sensible tweaks make it completely youth rider ready. A 1x8 Box drivetrain showcases a wide-range 11-34 cassette, and when paired with the 30T chainring it’s ready to go fast up, along and down. The big steps between gears mean shifting isn’t as smooth as some, but we think the large range makes up for the lack of silky shifting finesse.
Ironing out the trail chatter is an adjustable Spinner Grind fork with 65mm of travel. Its air pressure is adjustable for different weights, and the lockout lever means there’s no unwanted bob on the climbs.
Tektro hydraulic disc brakes clamp 160mm rotors to bring things to a controlled stop, and major label tires from rubber giant Schwalbe provide grip and rolling speed throughout a variety of trail conditions.
What’s most impressive is how Vitus offers such a well thought out bike with a specification list as dialed as this for under $700.
In order to keep the weight as low as possible, Trek has equipped the Roscoe 24 without any suspension and instead use semi-fat 2.8-inch tires to provide comfort and grip on the trail. While this doesn’t translate to the same ride quality we see from bikes featuring sophisticated suspension dampers, the reduced weight creates a fast ride that’s easy to maneuver, and the high volume tires can be run at silly low pressures to generate bucket loads of rock crawling traction.
We’re big fans of how the low-slung top makes hopping on and off the bike way easier and kids’ specific geometry results in trusty handling.
The brakes aren’t hydraulic but instead use a cable to actuate the caliper pistons. The braking isn’t quite as precise as a hydraulic system but it means home maintenance is a cinch.
Everything combined better suits a newer rider looking to hone skills rather than a seasoned shredding pro, but the handling and spec list mean the Roscoe will ride great on everything from the local pump track to the trail center family loop. Due to Trek being one of the most popular brands out there, bikes can be visually seen and tried for size in proper bricks and mortar shops.
Designed in collaboration with YouTube sensation Matt Jones and named after the state prison in California, Marin has created a hardcore trail slaying hardtail with geometry numbers that are almost unheard of in kids’ bikes. As a result, the San Quentin’s performance is properly game-changing.
A steep seat angle means climbing is mega efficient, and the slacker-than-average head angle levels out steep gradients and instils the confidence to rail berms and motor through choppy sections of trail with enthusiasm.
Adding to the ultra-composed ride is a RockShox Judy fork, which sports 100mm of buttery-smooth travel. It’s air-adjustable so the setup can be fine-tuned for different rider weights, and a 15mm bolt through front axle adds stiffness for hitting corners and launching jumps. Tektro hydraulic brakes are employed to effectively keep this speed demon under control.
Propelling the San Quentin forward is a race-proven, wide-range MicroShift drive train with a 1-46 cassette In the wilderness, this provides a really easy gear for long climbs and tired legs but without the compromise of a harder gear for fast-paced situations. The smooth yet light shifter action is also great for hands that haven’t quite reached full strength yet.
Yes, Marin’s San Quentin is expensive, but the hefty price tag is reflected in a well thought out package and genuinely game-changing levels of youth-sized hardtail performance that’ll happily conquer everything from the local dirt jumps to the first-ever enduro race.
The Jeffsy Primus 24 cuts no corners to provide a trail slashing, jump sending, multi-terrain-destroying youth-sized sled. Kids' bikes don’t get much better than this.
With 130mm travel at both ends keeps things efficient for trail riding but leaves a big enough buffer for lighter riders to hit gnarly oversized terrain. A lightweight Manitou fork and shock provide ultimate control when dealing with repeated impacts and generate the perfect amount of support for high G-force scenarios.
The cockpit and contact points are taken care of by SDG and their range of youth-specific components. This included an extra compliant bar targeted at lighter riders and a thinner grip to better suit small hands, all of which improve rider input and results in better control.
Sram Guide R 4 piston brakes feature a toolless lever reach adjustment, and a huge 11-50 ratio Eagle drivetrain delivers power to the tubeless-ready SunRingle wheelset. Mounted to the rims are Maxxis tires to ensure traction levels remain high.
If you’re looking for the best off-the-shelf 24-inch mountain bike available then head over to the YT website now.
Isla bikes are known for creating some of the most strategically thought about kids' bikes, and as a result, have become known for manufacturing some of the best performing kids’ bikes. This means the initial price may be high, but due to being so reputable once outgrown, reselling couldn’t be easier.
What’s remarkably good about the Creig is how its super-low weight adds agility and urgency on the trail, and with the added benefits of super short cranks and a wide bar/short stem combo, it’s intuitive and confidence-inspiring across a variety of terrain.
A Rockshox Gold air spring fork delivers impressive control with a full range of adjustments. Little things like opting to use wheels with a low spoke count with the aim of reducing weight and adding compliance for lighter riders make this a well-considered design.
At the checkout Isla Bike have also listed a range of optional extras to tailor to different rider demands; add a dropper post if technical trails are on the cards, a bottle and bottle cage to remain hydrated on the trail and a fleet of different locks to remain things are kept secure on the school bike rack. There’s even the option to add a name sticker to create a fully personalized ride.
Spending less may not get you the latest geometry or the most state of the art componentry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a total blast on the trails. The price point is what makes the ST900 such a good option for young riders who are wanting to sample mountain biking for the very first time.
Impressively RockRider has specced a 1x drive train in order to keep things simple yet reliable, and cable-actuated disc brakes make sure braking remains reliable throughout all conditions. The coil-sprung fork lacks adjustability and adds weight, but there’s enough movement to absorb the worst of the trail chatter.
The drawbacks are it’s heavy, the components aren’t quite as refined as the more expensive bikes and the geometry is more square than slacked-out, but if you have a young rider who's keen to hit the trails it’s a brilliant option that doesn’t break the bank.
The F-Play is the market's first-ever battery assisted kids’ bike, and if you can afford it, it will inject a whole new level of enjoyment and accessibility into trail time.
It’s hard to believe it’s taken so long for power assistance to be integrated into kids' bikes but it’s a concept that makes endless amounts of sense. It’s also something Mondraker have absolutely smashed out of the park.
Whizzing things forward is an e-bike motion rear hub motor that is powered by an internal 250wh battery. Having this strapped to the bike does add substantially more weight, but the extra power means rides that were once cut short because of tired legs are a thing of the past. The F-Play is the ultimate key to the doors of bigger climbs, longer days and previously out of reach locations.
Mondraker's ‘Forward Geometry’ pairs long, low and slack frame geometry with a short stem. On the trail, this technology provides a seriously stable and confidence inspiring ride throughout every situation, and the long-wheelbase lends itself especially well to the high average speed electric bikes provide.
Beyond the revolutionary electric power is a basic but reliable component list. A 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain deals with the rider outputs, while Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes keep the additional weight and speed under control. A RockShox fork and Sr Suntour shock create a traction rich and comfy ride.
As youth bikes go the F-Play is hyper-expensive, but if you’re serious about forming a guaranteed love for mountain biking the Mondraker’s power package and futuristic frame angles provide the spark to make it happen.
How to choose the best 24 inch mountain bikes
1. Wheel Size
Assessing if your little rider is ready to roll on a bike with 24 inch wheels is important. 24-inch mountain bikes are aimed at young riders usually around the ages of 7-12 years old or those who are between 4ft 1 and 4ft 8 tall.
While it might be tempting to buy a bigger bike for them to grow into, doing so is something we highly recommend against. Riding a bike that’s too big is likely to be overpowering, leaving the rider feeling out of control when riding and way less fun when hurtling down the trail. Our advice would be to buy the best bike you can afford as this way you can always re-sell it once it has served its time. Top-quality kids’ bikes hold money well so if it remains in good condition, reselling will be easy.
All of the bikes here feature disc brakes, but the difference being some are cable-actuated whereas others use hydraulic fluid to bring things to a stop. Hydraulic disc brakes are more powerful, meaning the lever doesn’t need to be pulled as hard to achieve maximum stopping power. It’s also crucial that brake levels have a useable reach adjustment so the lever blade can be moved close enough to the bar to better suit smaller hands.
Unless you’re strictly riding on the flat, gears are a total must. By this point, most little riders will have already experienced shifting gears for themselves, but to keep things simple and reliable we recommend sticking to a single ring up front matched with an 8, 9 or 10 speed set up at the back. Wide range cassettes that offer a really low gear are great for climbing to the trailhead and preserving energy for long days in the woods.
Fully rigid bikes are fast and lightweight, but if you’re planning on riding graded off-road trails, having suspension is going to improve performance and generally make the whole experience much more enjoyable. A hardtail is fine for the most part and it’s a great way to teach line choice, but if bike park riding is on the cards or you just want to keep the options endless, having a bike with front and rear suspension makes a ton of sense. The best bikes have lightweight specific suspension tunes tailored to kids and use air spring dampers to keep things lightweight. Air sprung forks can also be adjusted to different rider weights; this means a properly performing set-up is easily achieved regardless of the rider’s size.
As a rule, kids' bikes should feature robust components that will deal with enviable collisions and abuse, but the best 24-inch mountain bikes take this a step further and tailor components to better suit smaller, lighter riders. Things like shorter cranks help with the smaller pedal revolutions of shorter legs, and an appropriate width bar that suits a narrower wingspan is great to see. It’s also great to see thin grips to suit smaller hands, an appropriately sized saddle, and pedals that don’t instantly need throwing in the bin.
The overall weight is what separates the best from the rest when it comes to kids' bikes, and having a lightweight bike is likely to rapidly accelerate riding ability. A lighter weight bike is not only easier to pick up and push up for one more roll through of the most fun part of the track, but it’ll also be way more manoeuvrable when cornering and conquering obstacles. A lightweight bike will also be easier to pedal around, which means those precious energy levels can be preserved.