Getting to ride anywhere with your toddler or toddlers in a bike seat is so much fun. Exploring your neighbourhood or local bike trails by bike is just great for everyones mood and energy. As your family grows the options do to. So have a read of the pros and cons for each type of bike seat/bike attachment/bike trailer below and begin the process.
The perfect match is often determined by what type of bike frame you want to use with your kids bike seat. To learn more about bike types and which kids seats they work with read our story Kids Bike Seats – Match your bike to a seat.
Make sure their helmet fits then head for the great outdoors…Oh yeah if they won’t wear a helmet or refuse to keep it on then no riding. They are simply not ready to go for a bike ride so try again in a few weeks time. Oh yeah once they are in that seat/trailer they want to go so no mucking around Mum – get everything on, packed, buckled and tied then the last thing you do is get them on the bike…
This seat sits right behind the handlebars so the child is in between your arms. Kids love this as they can see where they are going. This seat provides the best interaction between you and your child as they are right in front of you and you can see what they are doing. The biggest issue is space…Read this story for help understanding Will a Yepp Mini Fit on Your Bike? Good idea to have some kind of wheel or handlebar for the toddler otherwise they can start playing with your handlebars – some of these seats even come with a large padded T-Bar incase your little one falls asleep. It’s also a good multi child option as it leaves the back of the bike for more children – if your riding is up to it and on the flat!!
Bike match = town bikes & large frames. Read more at Kids Bike Seats – Match your bike to a seat.
Max weight is 17kg, generally children 1 to 3yrs as must be able to sit up, height up to 110cm. You need space on your handlebar stem to mount this system. If the distance between your seat and the handlebars is short – less than 20inches/your frame is x-small – you may have difficulty riding with this type of set up – you won’t be able to reach the handlebars around your toddler.
Price range $219 – $80 (second hand). Brands in no particular order Yepp, iBert and Guppy.
Front bike seats attach to your handlebar stem
This type of seat fits above the rear wheel of your bike attached to the carrier or frame of your bike. Lighter than a trailer and a great warm weather option but they will need protection from sun/cold. Helmet shape is important so it doesn’t hit the back of the seat. Generally the more you pay the better the harness system will be. Make sure you get a 3 point harness system that your child can not release as you won’t be able to see what they are doing behind you.
Not all brands of rear child bike seats offer a frame attachment. Yepp do and we offer these in our shop as an alternative to using or having a carrier on your bike. The attachment comes from your seat post. This type of seat has all the pros & cons of the carrier attachment above but, obviously, no need to have a carrier. What you do need is space on your seat post tube so the attachment can clamp on – not compatible with full suspension mountain bikes.
Bike match = most bikes exception full suspension mountain bikes. Read more at Kids Bike Seats – Match your bike to a seat
Age range from 1 to 5yrs so make sure your seat has adjustable shoulder & footrest heights so that as they grow the seat still works. A general weight range from 9kg to 22kg depending on the brand. You will need to practice riding with the extra weight high at the rear of the bike.
Price range is wide, from upwards of $295 new, down to clearance items at $85. Popular brands in no particular order Yepp, BoBike, Guppy, Polisport, Topeak.
Frame mounted rear child bike seat
Yepp Maxi rear child bike seat
This mid mount system is attached directly to your bikes top tube or via a bar/adaptor that creates a top tube. It gives great interaction and good protection in between your arms. A lot of what I have said for the front mounted seats applies here. The biggest difference between the types of seats is that most mid mount seats have no harness (exception WeeRide). These no harness systems are great for kids who have ridden balance bikes from a young age.
Bike Match = versatile, most medium to large frames. Read more at Kids Bike Seats – Match your bike to a seat.
The mounted bar system (WeeRide) has a similar age range to the front seats (1-3yrs) whereas the top tube seat (Shotgun) have a wider age range 2 to 5yrs depending on the size of your child. The Do Little can create a top tube or be mounted to a top tube – age range 2 to 7yrs. Weight range is wide 9 to 23kg.
For top tube seats check out the NZ made Shotgun which adjusts to fit on ALL mountain bike frames & sizes, Shotgun ($220). DoLittle Bike Seats, NZ Made, fits standard, sloping & step through frames, shop page here ($155). WeeRide – bar mounting – is on Fishpond expect to pay $200 or more.
Shotgun kids mountain bike seat
A town bike, doLittle match
These half bikes are towed behind your bike. They attach at your seat post and are compatible with most adult bikes. A quick release for easy detachment from the adult bike is a great idea. Most models fold down for easy storage and transport. This system allows your child to pedal forward, backwards or coast – they don’t have control of the brakes or steering. Weight may be a consideration so make sure you know the weight of what you are buying. Some models come with adjustable handlebar height which can be good as the kids grow.
Suits slightly older kids from 4 or 5 years up to 7yrs.
You are buying half a bike here so don’t expect a deal. Price range $215 – $1000. Why? You get what you pay for.
Reclined seat – WeeHoo – 2 to 9 years. Provides a really safe secure seating option, it would be much harder to fall off/out of this. It also comes with storage compartments for whatever you want to take along – not to exceed 36kg of weight, price new $550.
Trailer bikes are great for bike touring
WeeHoo reclined seat trailer
A common towing option these kids bike seats offer great protection from the weather but think about wind. Good protection from any possible accidents as they are designed with roll bars. Because they are big and close to the ground cars tend to go around them. Use flags and bright colours to help the cars with this. Also remember you are wider than normal – how will this effect your riding and distances from the curb/parked cars. Trailers can carry more than one child plus nappies, groceries etc. Children can sleep and eat inside a trailer, carry toys etc. As the kids get bigger it will get harder for you and some trails are just not meant for trailers – width, surface. You will need low gears to get up even minor hills and good brakes for any descents to avoid shunting from the weight of the trailer. Practice even controlled application of brakes. Interaction with a child or children in a trailer is not great and if there is more than one of them in there they may get sick of being that close to their brother/sister quite quickly!! Consider storage and whether you need to transport the trailer in your car – will it fold down easily and not be too heavy to lift.
Age range wide 8 weeks to 6 years. This is one of your options if you are happy to cycle with your baby strapped into a car seat/sling/carrier and fitted into your trailer – we are talking no helmet and not on the road (see Biking with Babies on Board). A lot of brands recommend 12months and up for age use.
The price range is wide due to different size options and multi functions. Some models convert to a stroller or jogger when you get off the bike – check out WeeRide’s Deluxe or Classic trailer models or the Burley Delite if this sounds like you, remembering multi functions will also come with a price tag. One of the more expensive options (if you are buying quality that will last) but think carefully about the benefits – all year use because of weather protection, multi child carrier, ideal for an alternative to car use = savings gained…
Tailgators join two bikes together. This set up lifts the childs front wheel off the ground giving you control of the steering but they can still use their back brake if they have pedal brakes – which is funny the first time….Great in terms of using what you may already have – a kids bike and an adults bike. There is a minimum recommended wheel size for use of 25inches for the adult bike (have a look at the wall of your tyres to get your wheel size) and you will need some exposed seat post for the attachment. This can be a great option for longer rides with kids or navigating your way through busy traffic. When the time is right you can detach them, retract the arm and they can ride for themselves.
Ideal for slightly older kids 3 to 4yrs +
You should be able to find one for around $180 new. There is a strong second hand market for these attachments.
Great alternative to a car for around town transport. Good for multi children families. The set ups are either front or back, seats or trailers. Trailers can be enclosed or open. So you should be able to find something that suits your family dynamics. Ideal for flat smooth pathways and surfaces, not so great for hills as they are heavy. You can get around this by purchasing a battery powered one to assist you with hill climbing.
Age range good 1yr to ……when they decide its not cool. These bikes are designed to carry loads so weight is not an issue.
Financially this is a bigger investment but with everyday use you will get your money back in saved car bills.
LINKS: See www.cargobike.co.nz or www.goodrotations.co.nz for good explanations of your options and to get an idea of pricing and what’s available in NZ. If you live in Auckland take a trip to Electric Bike Hub at 29 East Street, Eden Terrace. They have more than just “electric” bikes on offer – www.electricbicyclehubauckland.co.nz
This could be so much fun. You can get modified tandem bikes that have platforms instead of pedals for the second rider so this is a good choice for children or any riders with disabilities. Tandems are a good touring option but by the time your child fits a standard tandem they will probably be a lot happier to ride all by themselves away from the view of your butt… Brands include Apollo, Schwinn, Polygon, KHS and they come in a range of styles – mountain, touring or road frames and this little beauty, see photo – Kulana Lua Tandem.
Age range from when they can ride there own bike (4yrs+) to ……when they decide its not cool. These bikes are designed to carry loads so weight is not an issue.
Financially this is a bigger investment but with everyday use you will get your money back in saved car bills.
A few more tips;
- Consider the number of attachments you want. Do you want to be able to change the seat between bikes quickly?
- A word about second hand buying – only do this if you or your partner know a thing or two about bike stuff or you know someone who can give the bike seat/trailer a good look over before you use it. You will need to check all attachments are safe and that the safety harness (if the seat has one) is in good condition. If the seat/trailer is second hand it may not come with instructions on how to fit it to your bike… need I say more.
- For any bike transport options checking routines are really important. That means you need to understand how the seat is attached and what to look for. We recommend that you fit the child seat to the bike or at a minimum watch carefully when it is being done. See Kids Bike Seats – Safety & Care
- Make sure before you invest your hard earned money that you think of the big picture – not just what suits you know but how you might need it to work in 2 or 3 years time. Alternatively check out the second hand market and make an informed decision on whether your investment could be recouped and used for an upgrade…
- Got a seat in mind – will it fit your bike? Check out this great article from Two Wheeling Tots, yes its American but the info and pictures are great.
- If you are considering a Yepp seat goRide has two How to attach instruction sets… Maxi (rear)….Mini (front)
- Will a doLittle top tube mounted bike seat fit your bike?….Have a look here at our How to attach a doLittle Child Bike Seat
Awesome and well done making it to the end. That was a lot of information to take in. Please let us know what was useful…
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
‘On the Bike’ – Child Bike Seat Buying Guide
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