Marin Bayview Trail 24
If you are looking for a real mountain bike for your 8 to 12 year-old, look no further.
Marin’s Bayview Trail 24 puts all of the off-road technology that you would find on a good adult hardtail into this small package.
These bikes come with 80mm-travel Suntour suspension forks that are appropriately sprung for small riders, and they even have adjustable pre-load springs. The lightweight double-wall wheels come with quick release levers for easy maintenance and travel. Overall weight is reduced with high quality aluminum construction all around. The handlebars, stem, seatpost, crankset, derailleurs, brakes, and even spoke nipples utilize better materials to make the bike light and trouble free. The stem is the threadless style (not the old-fashioned quill style), which is more easily adjusted and about a half-pound lighter.
There’s space for a water bottle cage. The seat height is adjustable with a quick-release lever. The cables that control the brakes and shifters run housing uninterrupted from the controls down, so if the bike is left out in the rain, the cables won’t get rusty. Even the cheap steel freewheels typically found on the back wheel of most kids bikes have been replaced by lighter and more durable 7-speed cassette-style gears.
Shifting and braking effort is nice and easy for small hands with quality Shimano Altus derailleurs and smooth Tektro V-brakes.
Okay, the bike is clearly higher quality than what you get from Specialized, Diamondback, Giant or Trek. How much more does it set you back? It runs about $30 more than most of those brands, which is about what it would cost you to replace the stock bolt-on front wheel axle from one of those bikes with a quick-release version.