The only thing we’ve bought that the kids got more use out of was the Razor A2 Scooter (which has the benefit of being easy to travel with).
My son has had this bike for over a year now and has really loved it. It makes a huge difference moving up to a bike that has 6 speeds and hand brakes like the MT 60. He learned the gears in about an hour — if that — and the bike allowed him to almost immediately tackle some hills that were impractical just the day before on his old 16″ Marin bike.
This is the 20″ model and a good fit for kids with a 22 to 26 inch inseam (or more roughly a height of 45 – 52″). The bike puts kids in a slightly more lean-forward position, whereas other bikes on the market have higher handlebars which makes kids sit more upright. (Test ride to see what your child prefers.) The MT 60 has an adjustable crank which allows you to adjust the placement of the pedals and thus extend the length of time one child could ride the bike.
Shifters & Gears
The MT 60 has 6-speed twist shifters. I think the twist (or grip) shifters are a good choice for kids trying to learn to change gears. They are fairly intuitive and require less dexterity than trigger shifters, so kids don’t need to glance down to the handlebars to figure out how and where to shift. Also, twist shifters are more rugged and can take more of the abuse kids will put their bikes through.
A common complaint about many kids bikes is that the front shocks are too tight for a child’s weight and they are essentially there just for show. Not so with the Trek MT 60, if anything they bottom out a little too easily – but this is better than them not working at all.
The bike has front and back hand brakes. This can be a bit of an adjustment for kids accustomed to pedal brakes but once they are used to them it allows for a much more confident and in-control rider. The brakes on the Trek are adjustable so you can easily change the distance from the lever to the grip. Check their grip before their first ride and ensure your child can easily grasp the brake without stretching their hand.
Boys and Girls Mountain Bike Models
The bike comes in slightly different versions for girls and boys. The two bikes have different paint jobs with the girls model also having a lower topbar. Other than that there are no major differences.
Other Options for Kids’ Bikes
Most of the major bike companies make good quality youth bikes. Marin, Giant, Gary Fisher, and Specialized being some of the most popular and well reviewed.
I highly recommend avoiding the cheap bikes from Target or other department stores. Bikes purchased there are of much lower quality — but much higher markup — and can be poorly assembled to boot.
Your local bike shop will typically have well informed staff that can give you advice on what to look for and tips on how to ride effectively and safely. Yes, they want to sell you one of their bikes, but they’re usually staffed by eager and knowledgeable bike enthusiasts who really do want you to get a bike that is the appropriate size and style.
I think most kids 6 and older will benefit by having gears – making hills much easier and helping them keep up with older kids and adults on the flat – but if you really think multiple gears are an unnecessary expense then consider a 20″ bmx bike. BMX bikes are typically much lighter than mountain bikes like the MT 60. They come with hand brakes and wide knobby tires for good control on rougher road or trail, but without the gears or shocks of mountain bikes, thus making them much lighter than a comparably sized mtb.
The Trek MT 60 is a great bike for kids upgrading from a 16″ model. It’s not the lightest kids bike on the market but it’s much lighter than anything you’ll find at a department store. A good range of 6 speeds will help kids negotiate hills and off-road trails with much more confidence. The MT 60 is a good moderately priced choice for kids that love to ride. (To find out where Trek bikes are sold near you click here.)