Lugging my kid’s mountain bike along the track at the farm is a memory I’d rather forget, especially when my kids grew and the bikes also became bigger and heavier. I used to think, If only they had a bike they could ride easily, especially when the terrain was a little rougher.
In those cases, having both front suspension and rear shocks really would’ve been worth it – to me and them. Whether they are always worth it, though, does depend on a few things.
Are Rear Shocks On a Mountain Bike Worth it for Kids?
There are different models of mountain bikes available to kids. Some have the most basic of suspension, others have no extra rear suspension and a front fork suspension, while others have both front suspension and rear shocks.
The common opinion indicates that rear shocks on a mountain bike for kids are not always necessary, or worth it because the amount of suspension on a bike depends on a few factors. Perhaps the most important is the type of terrain your kid will ride on. You must also consider your kid’s weight and the weight of the bike.
Then, the cost of the bike is an important factor to consider too.
The Type of Riding
Basic, Flat Surfaces
Depending on where you live, your kid will do a different type of riding. If you live in a city, then your kid will really ride on flat roads, with the occasional small bump. In this case, it’s really not necessary to have more than a rigid fork on the front of the bike.
Slightly Rougher Riding
If you live in an area where your kids will have access to some rougher roads, you will need to consider a bike with a front suspension fork. Bear in mind, though, that a smaller or lighter kid may not have the body weight to enable the fork to be used properly.
If your kid is older and slightly heavier, and they do a lot of off-road mountain biking along challenging tracks, then you should consider either adding rear shocks or getting a bike for them with rear shocks, to take the extra pressure on the suspension of the bike.
If your kid is doing a lot of demanding to ride, then balancing the suspension on a bike is a good idea. This means making sure the bike has the standard front suspension fork, as well as rear shocks. This makes the rear shocks worth it, especially for demanding downhill riding.
Different Types of Suspension
When it comes to the suspension on your kid’s mountain bike, you need to consider the different types of suspension and what they actually do.
To give a kid’s mountain bike front suspension, the front rigid fork can be fitted with slightly bigger tires that are inflated to just below the recommended pressure. The other option is a bike with a front suspension fork.
Rear shocks on a mountain bike are specifically designed to allow the rider to take bigger jumps and to make the ride smoother, especially downhill.
Front Suspension Vs Rear Suspension
Because most kids are smaller and lighter, they will mostly ride on relatively undemanding tracks, so a bike. This is important to remember with younger and lighter kids.
What rear shocks offer is better suspension, especially on rougher tracks. Ultimately, this means a more pleasant and safer ride.
Weight of the Bike
An important thing to bear in mind is that rear shocks add to the weight of the bike. Remember me carrying my kid’s bike? One of the major reasons for that was because it was just too heavy for them to manage themselves, even while they were riding.
Older and heavier kids will manage a slightly heavier bike with rear shocks quite easily, but a younger or lighter kid may find it difficult to navigate all-terrain on a heavier bike.
However, as the experts advise: “As long as your kid can handle the weight, there are many benefits to choosing a full-suspension mountain bike.”
(Cleary, (2021, June 17), What to Look for in a Kids Mountain Bike, The Bike Blog.)
Cost of the Bike
It’s quite logical, I suppose, to consider that the more features a bike has, the more it will cost.
Mountain bikes with lighter frames will cost more than with a standard frame. If the bike has a front suspension fork it will cost a little more than one with a rigid fork. That means rear shocks will put up the price of the bike even more.
A question to ask yourself is: Are rear shocks on my kid’s mountain bike worth the additional cost?
The answer to the question: Are rear shocks on a mountain bike worth it for kids? is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You need to consider the type of riding your kid does, their weight and size, and the cost. Depending on how these come together, the answer will become clearer.
The thing to think about is if the rear shocks are worth it for you and your kid.