1st MTB for 5 y.o.

Forums Mountain Bike Forum 1st MTB for 5 y.o.

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    • #364408

      Deciding on a 20” mountain bike for my son’s 5th birthday (he’s a huge 4 year old who just graduated from training wheels and he loves biking off-road. He’s almost 48” tall, 55 lbs, and is dying to hit the trails).

      Assuming a 20” bike will last 2-3 years, but not trying to spend too much more than $500-600, any thoughts on the following bikes:

      1) Woom 4 OFF
      2) Pello Rover 20
      3) Salsa Timberjack 20 (Plus)
      4) Cannondale Cujo 20 Plus

      I’m not sure a suspension fork is worth the weight nor price at his age/size/experience and the trails we’ll be hitting, aiming for light weight (~20 lbs or less), and considering plus size tires / mid-fat to help absorb the trails and give him some confidence (but not a deal-breaker). Will also be his 1st multi-speed/geared bike, so want it to be a good experience.

      My gut tells me Woom 4 OFF is the best option, but they’re out of stock (COVID) and it’s also a little more than I wanted to spend considering he’s going to outgrow it quickly.

      If a rigid fork and moderate tire pressure won’t cut it for casual, albeit hilly and root-filled trail riding, would he be better off with a slightly less expensive bike WITH front suspension instead of the Woom 4 Off rigid (Timberjack and Rover both have suspension as an option, at or below price of Woom rigid)?

      Thank you for any pro tips on this one!

    • #374623

      I have four kids and have successfully  gotten three of them riding trails with me consistently. My youngest is now 6 and she just started riding a 24″ bike. It is a tad big but she is ambitious. My thoughts on getting my kids in on it. Because of how light weight they are and their limitations on tackling big or technical stuff I don’t think a shock is needed and probably doesn’t do much. Plus wheels yes. They add so shock absorption, traction and probably some balance. I would caution you based on my experience to expect the bike to last 3 years. That would be great but as kids get better at biking they want to tackle bigger bike and my kids fall in love with the bigger 27.5 wheels and the rollover they have. Inspires confidence and a lot less bumpy. It looks like you have a good selection of bikes. I lean towards the Timberjack but that is totally based on the fact I ride the adult version of it and love the bike. I recommend you go with best price point on a rigid plus tire bike and save the money for his next bike. So awesome to be able to bike with kids. I wish you much success and great rides.

    • #374819

      The problem with a lot of Mountainbikes for little kids is that they are very heavy and possibly too complex for many 5 y.o.’s.  I started my boys with BMX bikes.  A good quality aluminum BMX bike with no suspension, narrow 20in tires, and a single-speed drivetrain can be pretty light and very affordable at less than $300.   If you have a local BMX track, little kids love that stuff and it builds skills.  A BMX bike is quite capable on easy singletrack which is where you are likely to ride with your kid anyway.  The BMX bike is also more fun on paved and gravel bike paths.  Honestly, a 5 y.o. doesn’t need suspension, multiple gears, or plus tires.  Remember, early Mountainbikes were full-rigid and had narrow tires.

      Let them ride the BMX bike and save your money until your kid is big enough to ride a real mountain bike, the extra-small size 26er.  My boys started riding 26er hardtails when they were about 8 or 9.  You can get kids on an extra small 26er at a very early age by pushing the seat as far forward as possible and putting on a very short stem and lowering the bars as low as they will go. Then as your kid grows, you push the seat back, put on the longer stem, and raise the bars.  My 12 y.o. is still riding an extra-small 26er but will outgrow it soon.  He is now about 5’2″.

      I think little kids are more likely to have fun on a simple, light-weight, lively BMX bike than on a heavy, complex, miniaturized Mountainbike.  Check out the bikes kids are riding at your local BMX track.

    • #376131

      I bought a used specialized Hotrock 20inch wheel for my son when he was 5. It was an upgrade from a bmx. He would ride trails with me in all over Dallas on the Hotrock. He also rode that little bike on trails in Bentonville – Slaughter pen and Coler bike preserve. He did not do any of the black trails cause dad would not let him. He would eat up smaller jump lines and any bit of flow.  If your trails have any elevation change, gears will help. Blake took to them quickly and still calls them easy gears and fast gears. The fork on that bike was a heavy coil sprung 60mm travel. I disliked the fork, however, during rides he would frequently use all the travel.

      I agree with bike nerd it is all about weight the ratio between the child and the bike weight. A suspension fork is meh unless you think they are going to shred hard.  Otherwise a coil fork is just too heavy for what benefit you are getting (not sure about air forks for such a small rider). Tires are super important depending on what surface you are riding. I think you need to keep in mind the tire weight.  I considered almost all on the bikes on your list before I went with a used option. I think they are all great options for young riders. One thing I would  recommend is checking the stand over height with your sons measurements. Get one with a low stand over height and  he will take to the bike much quicker.

      My son rode the hot rock for 3 years I was sad to see him out grow it. It was a great investment. Used it cost $100 plus the upgrades I put into it and the memories are priceless.


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