A wide variety of bikes and baby bike seats are available in the market. It is a challenge to find the right baby bike seat for your child which fits perfectly on your bicycle and suits your riding style. In this article, we take the pain out of finding the right bike seat for you and your baby.
Steps to Find the Best Baby Bike Seat for Your Bike
- Determine the type of baby bike seat of your preference; whether you like the front, rear or middle mounted.
- Check for compatibility on your bike.
- Look at the extra features to see which ones suit you best.
Step 1: Which Type of Baby Bike Seat Would You Prefer?
There are three types of baby bike seats categorized by the position on which the seat is mounted on the bike.
Rear Mounted Seat
Rear-mounted seats are preferable for kids from 1 year old to 6 years old and are the most common type of baby bike seats in the market. All rear-mounted seats are bigger than the front-mounted ones. They have many features such as; more adjustable shoulder straps, suspension for a bouncy ride, and the ability to recline. Rear seats can be mounted on the bike’s frame or a rack. Frame-mounted seats are better than those mounted on a rear rack except when the frame-mounted seat isn’t compatible with the bike. An example of a rear-mounted seat is Hamax Caress.
- It has more room for child growth
- It is well-designed to recline
- It allows suspension for bouncy rides
- The baby is out of the rider’s sight
- Conversations are difficult
- It affects the rider’s balance
Front Mounted Seats
Of all the three types of baby bike seats, these are the smallest. They are best for little ones between 9 months old and 2.5 years old. This type of bike seat is mounted between the adult rider’s arms. Babies feel relaxed and more comfortable in a front seat than in a rear seat and the parents enjoy the closeness to their kids. An example of a front-mounted seat is Thule RideAlong Mini.
- It is best suited for babies and toddlers
- The parent has proximity to the baby
- It allows easy conversation
- It has little effect on the adult rider’s balance
- Toddlers outgrow the front seats quite fast
- It limits the adult rider’s space
Mid-Mounted / MTB Seat
A mid-mounted child seat is best for kids from 2 years old to 5 years old. They have no harnesses and are mounted between the handlebars and the adult rider. Mid-mounted seats are commonly used on mountain bikes. This is because the adult rider can maintain their center of balance while the child is carried along for a trail ride. An example of a mid-mounted seat is Kids Ride Shotgun.
- It is suitable for older kids.
- It cradles the child between the rider’s arms.
- It occupies little space in the cockpit.
- It is the safest position for aggressive riding.
- It has no harness so the child must be able to hold on.
Step 2: Compatibility of Your Bike with the Child Bike Seat
There are various child bike seat styles as well as bike designs in the market. After selecting your preferred seat type, examine your bike to determine its compatibility with the seat you have chosen.
Rear Frame Child Bike Seat
Mounting a child seat on your bike’s frame is cost-efficient as you don’t require buying a separate rack. Most bikes are non-compatible with a frame-mounted seat and have to use a rear rack instead.
To mount a child seat properly, your bike seat/saddle should be round and have 4 – 6 inches of open space. The open space should be clear of all wires, wire mounts, and studs for mounting water bottles. If your bike has the required open space but also has wires running down at the back of your seat tube, the Hamax Caress will be appropriate.
The Hamax Caress has a mounting bracket that is specially-designed for its mounting arms to pass between the wires and mount on the bike frame. A bike without the required open space is incompatible with the frame-mounted seat but can use a rear rack mounted child seat.
The Thule RideAlong rear seat with a low-saddle adapter is suitable for saddles leaving a two-inch allowance to the bike frame.
Rear Rack Child Bike Seat
A rack is fastened to your bike frame over the rear tire. A rack may come together with the bike or be bought separately. A child bike seat is then mounted on the rack. To mount a rear rack-mounted child seat, your bike should have eyelets needed for mounting a rack.
Front Frame Child Bike Seat
A Front-mounted baby seat occupies about 10 inches of space between the saddle and the stem. They require large-size bikes or bikes that place the adult rider in an upright position, such as hybrids and cruisers.
The type of headset on your bike determines the type of front frame child bike seat to mount. A threaded/ quill headset is fastened with a threaded locknut while a thread-less/ahead headset is fastened with an internal bolt.
Threaded headsets have the required open space of 0.5 to 1.5 inches for mounting bike seats. The mounting bracket of the baby bike seat is clamped around the stem. If space isn’t enough, the locknut can be loosened to provide the required amount.
Threadless headsets pose a greater challenge when fitting front-mounted child bike seats. In a threadless headset, handles are removed to allow for mounting between the spacers. The Hamax Observer and the Thule Yepp Mini are the only front-mounted seats that offer ahead adapters for child bike seats.
Mid-Mount Child Bike Seats
Mid-mount child bike seats are easier to mount on a bike than the traditional front-mounted and rear seats. They are adaptable to fit a wide range of bikes and do not have any type of harness. There are two types of mid-mount seats: Recreational seats are made for easy rides around the town while mountain bike seats are made for mountain hiking biking.
Recreational seats are bigger and nice to ride around the town but not suitable for mountain biking. Tyke Toter is a good example of mid-mounted child seats for recreational purposes. Mountain child bike seats are slim to minimize the space they occupy in the cockpit. The three main brands of mountain bike seats are Kids Ride Shotgun, Do Little, and MacRide.
Step 3: Check The Extra Features
When you are certain that your bike is compatible with a child bike seat, it is important to also check the features listed below:
There are two types of harnesses: the five-point, and the three-point harness. The five-point harness has waist straps and shoulder straps meeting at the buckle. The three-point harness has no waist straps but has shoulder straps meeting at the buckle.
Both the five-strap harness and the three-point harness meet safety standards. The five-strap harness however can be safer in particular circumstances when the child slips out of the shoulder straps and the waist straps keep him back in the seat. An example of a five-point harness is the Burley Dash.
All shoulder straps on a baby bike seat ought to remain firmly on a baby’s shoulders. Straps designed to pull down to tighten are simpler to use than those that require rethreading through a slide buckle. Some seats such as the Thule RideAlong have height-adjustable shoulder straps to provide a tighter fit while others such as the iBert child bicycle safe t seat have no adjustable shoulder straps. The iBert child bicycle safe t seat is compatible with a variety of bike frames but has poorly designed shoulder straps.
Your bike seat may come with a few special features. A recessed helmet pockets help to maintain a baby’s head in the right position without being raised forward by the seat. This makes the ride more comfortable. Bumpers are made to prevent the child’s fingers from being squeezed on objects.
You also want to look at the seatback height. For front child bike seats, a low back position creates a tendency of straps slipping off the child’s shoulders. The lower back has lesser support to a sleeping child. Seats with a taller back on the other hand maintain the straps in their right place and offer sufficient body support to a sleeping baby.
On the front and rear seats, adjustable footrests are fitted to support a baby’s feet and legs. Adjustable footrests on the rear seat protect the baby from the rear wheel. On the front seats, adjustable footrests keep the baby’s legs from interfering with steering.
Suspension on a baby bike seat cushions the baby against bumps arising through the bike. The suspension is unavailable on front seats but availed on several rear-mounted and mid-mounted ones.
Seats with a reclining ability help to provide a safe and comfortable ride for a sleeping child. Front seats are not designed to recline as that would interfere with the adult rider’s space. Various rear frame-mounted and rack-mounted seats such as the Burley Dash offer reclinable seats.
Front-Mounted Seat Accessories
Handlebars on the bike make the baby and the adult feel more comfortable during the ride. Some bikes have windscreens to reduce the wind on a baby’s face.
Our Reviews: Best Childs Bike Seats
Rear frame or Rack
Burley Dash is one of the best kids’ bike seats on the market. It has the best harness and storage for both rear frame-mounted and rack-mounted seats. The Dash seats mount easily, are durable, and available at fair prices.
It has an optional recline, variable height footrest, and easy-to-clean padding. Burley Dash seats have a rear pocket in which little items (such as your wallet and keys) can be put. The seats have a five-strap harness adjustable from sides, top, and bottom. The buckle can be adjusted to a higher or lower position on the baby’s chest.
It has a universal mounting system that enables it to mount even on bikes that have wires on their seat tubes. It is durable, reclines up to 20 degrees, and has suspension and well-fixed shoulder straps that don’t slide off the baby’s shoulders. It has variable reclining, helmet recess, suspension, and adjustable height backrest. It also has a variable height footrest and theft-protection lock.
It has plenty of ventilation, variable height footrest, and high sideboards for child safety. It allows adjustment of the buckle towards the crotch for a firm grip on babies. It is lightweight, comfortable, and available at a lower price.
Peg Perego Orion
It mounts on the bike frame instead of the headset thus suitable for bikes without space on the headset for mounting brackets. The mounted bike seat is constantly on the same spot and does not affect the center of balance. It can be mounted on a variety of frames and adjustable footrests. It is smaller in size as compared to the others and the baby quickly outgrows it.
Thule Ride Along Mini
It is durable, high-quality, and comfortable. It has a baby’s handlebar, variable height footrests, and an anti-theft lock. The shoulder straps are designed in a backpack style and don’t slip down the baby’s shoulders. It has a 5 point harness for optimal safety as the baby is constantly maintained in the seat. It is easy to mount and unmount and thus saves your time.
Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini
It is a lightweight seat with large vents to cool down the baby when temperatures are high. It has better foot restraints than most seats, has changeable height sliding footrests, and a baby’s handlebar.
Kids Ride Shotgun
It is a mid-mount child bike seat without shoulder straps therefore suitable for toddlers and pre-schoolers who can keep a firm grip on the handlebar during a ride. it is specifically made to be used on mountain bikes. It is designed to accommodate many types of mountain bikes.
Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi
It is lightweight and doesn’t affect the bike’s center of balance. It has large vents to cool a toddler during hot weather and good foot straps to keep the baby’s feet in place. It has a 5 point harness and a child-proof magnetic buckle.
Thule Yepp Maxi
Thule Yepp Maxi has many vents for abundant airflow in hot climates. The seat is comfortable, easy to clean, and durable. It has a five-point harness system and changeable height sliding footrests.
Thule Ride Along
It is high-quality, easy to use and mount, durable, and comfortable. It has the best three-point harness on a rear frame-mounted rack and 5 reclining positions. It has a DualBeam suspension system to reduce bumps and non-slip shoulder straps. It has a low-saddle adaptor to fit on smaller bikes.
Baby Bike Seat Age and Safety
Many baby bike seats meet safety measures for babies as young as 9 months old. That said, it is recommended to wait until the baby is 12 months of age to be put in a child bike seat.
The choice of a baby bike seat is dependent on a wide variety of factors. Different styles of mounting a child bike seat are suited for different functions. Most of the baby bike seats on the market today meet the required safety standards, so your choice comes down to which features you would like and which seat will offer the most comfortable ride.