MTX 250
MTX 250 (courtesy, Giant Bikes)
Gear Guy

What mountain bike should I buy my ten-year-old?

Gear Dude, I going crazy. I'm considering buying my soon-to-be ten-year-old son a $300 mountain bike—Specialized or a Trek; he likes the Specialized. He wanted a bike with gears on it and I plan to have him do some riding with me in the future. The reasonably priced department store bikes I looked at were simply junk. Are there any other similar-quality, yet less expensive bikes in other brands that I'm missing? I don't want to drop for a $300 garage ornent. Steve Arlington, Texas

MTX 250

Hopefully your son will get plenty of use from his wheels, and it will offer him freedom, exercise, and the chance to take a few risks. Is he apt to break something? Well, sure, but with a well-fitted helmet it will likely be surface damage. And those whippersnappers heal quickly at that age!

MTX 250 MTX 250

I think you’re on the right track, bike-wise. The big-box bikes just aren’t very good, plus won’t include a proper setup, not to mention any kind of follow-up service and tuning, which all bikes need after they have been ridden for a few weeks. Of course, you pay more for bike-shop wheels, and of course any ten-year-old is apt to outgrow it pretty quickly. So that’s a factor as well.

One excellent choice would be Giant’s MTX 250 ($290; It’s a kid-specific bike with a frame design that’s easy to step over, plus 21 speeds controlled with grip-shifters, which are a little more intuitive than thumb shifters. The MTX 260 DS moves up to a dual suspension for $330, but I’d stick with the hardtail. Simpler, lighter, probably easier to pedal for a youngster. REI also makes a good bike for younger riders called the Novara Moxie ($249;, which like the Giant bikes has an aluminum frame and Shimano components. It has 15 speeds, which I tend to think makes more sense for a young rider. That’s just easier to manage. Finally, K2’s Zed ($219; offers a really good buy in a bike with reliable components and a front shock. But, overall I like the MTX 250—I think it’s a bike a kid can really love, and it’s not too hard on your budget.

As your son grows, provided he keeps riding, take a hard look at used bikes from people whose own kids have outgrown them. You’ll save 50 cents on the dollar or more, meaning your son can get a much better bike for the money.

Don’t forget that helmet for the noggin, either! Bell’s Cognito is just the ticket ($35;

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, Giant Bikes