Mountain biking can be an exciting activity for kids, offering a great opportunity to explore nature, develop fitness, and build confidence. If your child is eager to hit the trails, you’ll want to ensure they’re fully prepared with the right skills to have a safe and enjoyable cycling experience.

Keep reading as we cover our top mountain biking tips for kids!

What age can kids start mountain biking?

When your child can start mountain biking will be dependent on their physical development and coordination. However, you can buy junior mountain bikes for children as young as 6 years old.

How to choose the right mountain bike for kids

Firstly, you’ll want to ensure your child is equipped with the right mountain bike and cycling gear. To help you pick the right mountain bike for your child, here are a few things to consider:

Bike size

Picking the right-sized mountain bike for your child is essential to ensure they ride comfortably and safely. To find the best bike to fit your child, take a look at our guide on finding the right size bike for your kids which contains a handy bike size chart based on your child’s weight and height.

Bike fit

Once you’ve found the right-sized mountain bike, you’ll need to ensure everything can be suitably adjusted to fit your child’s body proportions, so your child can control the bike properly. The right bike setup will include:

  • A saddle that’s the correct height to allow for a comfortable ride.

  • Sufficient leg extension, meaning your child’s legs should be straight when their feet are on the pedals.

  • A strong suspension system to help absorb impacts.

At Halfords, our in-store experts will ensure the bike is the perfect size for your child and will make the relevant adjustments so they can ride safely.

Develop basic cycling techniques

Before heading straight out onto the trails, it’s important to ensure your kids have mastered basic cycling techniques. If your child struggles with any of the below skills, make sure they start off small by practicing somewhere familiar such as the local park. Once they feel confident, they can start mixing up their cycle routes.


Balance is the most crucial cycling skill, so it’s essential your child has stability and control before advancing to mountain biking.


Using the brakes effectively is extremely important, especially during more challenging bike rides, to allow your child to come safely to a stop. Make sure your child is aware of controlling their speed and incorporating braking in good time.

Gear shifting

Your child must know when to shift gears up or down, depending on the terrain. This will help them tackle hills much more easily.


Mountain bike trails can be extremely varied, so it’s important your child is confident with cornering and turning.

Climbing and descending

To prepare for the range of inclines, they’ll also need to tackle steep hills and descents confidently.

Find the right mountain bike trails

Once your child has mastered all the basic cycling skills, make sure they start off their mountain biking journey with a relatively simple trail to help them advance gradually. Mountain biking trails for beginners will usually involve smooth surfaces, gentle inclines and less obstacles to contend with.

Once your child feels confident with the beginner trails, you can start introducing trails with more challenging terrain.

Things to think about when selecting mountain bike trails include:

  • The trail length – make sure to start with shorter distances.
  • Trail conditions – routes that feature loose gravel or mud will be more challenging.
  • Trail features – leave routes that feature obstacles such as rocks or drops for when they feel more confident.

Mastering more challenging trails

If your child feels apprehensive about tackling more challenging trails, the key is to introduce more difficult elements slowly.

Start by introducing basic obstacles slowly such as little bumps or a slight variation in terrain and eventually progress to more significant obstacles such as logs or rocks.

It’s then a good idea to incorporate a variation of inclines and descents. Start with gentle slopes or small uphill sections. This will get them used to distributing their weight on the bike to navigate different sections.

Practice is key and you should encourage your child to challenge themselves as they develop their skills and confidence.

Staying safe on the trails

Regardless of the difficulty of the trail, it’s crucial that safety measures are met at all times.

Cycling gear

Wearing the right cycling gear is essential to ensure your child stays protected. Make sure your child has a quality kids’ bike helmet that is properly fitted. Knee, elbow pads and gloves are also a good idea to offer support and protection should they take a tumble.

Bike maintenance

Before setting off, make sure you give everyone’s bike a thorough check. The key components to inspect are the tyres, the brakes, and the gears. A proper check will identify any potential issues ahead of time and ensure your bikes are fit to ride.

You can do the checks yourself or, for peace of mind, get one of our experts to conduct a free bike check.

Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay fuelled and hydrated on your bike rides, so make sure everyone is supplied with water and snacks to maintain energy levels.

Best kids’ mountain bikes

At Halfords, we’ve got an array of junior mountain bikes, suitable for children of different ages and abilities. Here are some of our top picks:

Apollo Zest Junior Mountain Bike – 20” Wheel

The Apollo Zest Junior Mountain Bike is suited to children between the ages of 6-11 years old – perfect for young adventurers. The front suspension helps absorb bumps and features 6-speed gearing, helping kids tackle hills. It also features alloy brake levers to ensure firm stopping power.

Carrera Blast Junior Mountain Bike –24” Wheel

The Carrera Blast Junior Mountain Bike is designed for children between 8-12 years. It features disc brakes for firm braking across all weather conditions and 14-speed gears with Shimano Revoshift shifters to ensure easy gear changing across all terrains.

Apollo Gridlock Junior Mountain Bike – 24” Wheel

The Apollo Gridlock Junior Mountain Bike is ideal for children between 8-12 years. It features V-brakes and alloy brake levers to come safely to a stop, a robust steel frame and 18-speed Shimano gearing to tackle a range of hills and paths.

Carrera Vengeance Junior Mountain Bike – 26” Wheel

The Carrera Vengeance Junior Mountain Bike is perfect for older children between ages 9-12 years. It’s the junior mountain bike designed for more, featuring disc brakes for ultimate stopping performance, 16-speed Shimano Altus gears, and memory foam saddle for added comfort.

Voodoo Nzumbi Junior Mountain Bike – 26” Wheel

The Voodoo Nzumbi Junior Mountain Bike is perfect for children between 9-12 years who love the outdoors. You’ll find many of the same features on Voodoo’s adult mountain bike range including Suntour suspension forks, Shimano drivetrain, and hydraulic disc brakes.

Voodoo Nzumbi Junior Mountain Bike - 26" Wheel

That concludes our top mountain biking tips for kids. It’s important to remember that practice makes perfect and to advance to more challenging trails only when your child feels confident enough.

If you need any advice on kids’ mountain bikes, head in-store and speak to one of our experts. Or you can explore our full range of kids’ mountain bikes online.