A short story to clear up a few issues and help with the decision making around kids bike seats. Especially when you are buying for a young child around the age of one. So read on for advice on front vs rear kids bike seats and what we know…
What will influence your decision…
PRICE – there is not really much difference. The range being from least expensive front option at $219 to most expensive rear option at $299. So for the extra investment of $80 you could get the perfect set up that will work for years. There is a difference in return compare the Front (Mini) 1-3yrs to the Rear (Maxi) 1-6yrs.
WHERE YOU RIDE – stopping lots or in traffic, commuting to work while doing a childcare drop off a rear seat just seems to work for families. Compared to quiet roads, cycleways, bike paths or bike trails where a front seat is just awesome to have your child between your arms and so easy to interact with.
TYPE OF BIKE – you may not have a choice between front & rear depending on the type of bike you ride. Are you willing to buy a new bike for the specific job of riding with your child? Rear seats do not work with rear suspension or carbon frames. Also bigger bike frames are better (medium and up). Front seats are designed for upright step through frames & urban commuting bikes – adult in an upright position. Attaching a front seat to any other kind of bike means you will be sacrificing something in the way of your comfort while riding. Usually that is space between your chest & the seat or space to dismount off the front of your seat when you stop.
Rear seats are a great in traffic, commuting, bike path choice.
Step through bike frames are a great match to front seats, they give you space. Even on a small frame you should be able to come off the front of your saddle/seat to stop.
Sport or mountain style bikes may place a front seat in a reclined position taking more of your space.
RIDING WITH ADDED WEIGHT
Rear seats add weight that is high at the back of your bike so you need to be aware of the tipping effect where your front wheel can lift off the ground if there is too much weight in the back of your bike. This does not tend to happen with bike frames that are medium or larger.
Front seats are placed on your handlebar stem so it will take a couple of rides to get used to the change in the feel of your handlebars.
HOW YOU STOP & START
Rear seats prevent you from swinging your leg over your rear wheel to dismount from your bike. To stop you must come off the front of your seat and and then manoeuvre your leg somehow. This is super easy with a step through (no top tube) frame. Not so easy or elegant with a high top tube.
Front seats may prevent you from coming off the front of your saddle/seat to stop. This is more likely with a sport/trail or mountain style bike that puts the kids front seat in a slightly reclined position. It will definitely happen with all small/x-small bike frames. Some people are happy to get around this by lowering their seat so they can touch the ground and remain seated when coming to a stop. (Again a problem for x-small/small bike frames ridden by shorter people – how will you know see around the seat). If you have a seat dropper you can adjust your seat as you approach a stop so your feet can reach the ground. If you don’t lower your seat in some way the only alternative is to completely dismount with every stop – leg over rear wheel to come to standing next to the bike.
Rear seats have two ways to place the seat on the bike. The most common is straight onto a rear carrier. The second way is directly onto your bike frame at the seat post tube (tube under your seat) meaning you do not need a rear carrier on your bike. This second way can only be used with frames medium or larger. Both methods are not compatible with E-Bike batteries placed on or over the rear carrier.
Front seats are attached by a clamp placed on your handlebar stem. Not all handlebar stems are the same – some have lots of space (town, urban, commute style bikes) some have very little space. How much space you have here will effect which brand of front seat you can use. The only seat on the market that offers an option for not much space (5-8mm) is the Yepp Mini now made by Thule. To understand more about your handlebar stem see our story… Will a Mini fit on your bike?
get Inspired and goRide – Front vs Rear Kids Bike Seats – What should you choose?
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