There are multiple different options for riding with your young child positioned in a seat which is attached to your bike. This kind of family riding is great fun and can be started when your child is approximately 1 year old. However, not all seats work with all bikes…what do you need to know to make a good buying decision… will your bike work with an attached kids bike seat?
We are going to take a look at some of the things that a bike can have or be made of that restricts what can be attached to it;
- carbon frames/road bikes
- full suspension
- threadless handlebar stem found on sport style bikes – mountain bikes/trail bikes
- 29 inch wheels
- frame size – small or x-small, x-large
- electric bike battery placement
For towing kids please read Will your bike work for towing kids?
TYPES OF KIDS BIKE SEAT ATTACHMENTS
Here is a quick reminder about where you can attach a kids bike seat on your bike.
FRONT MOUNT SEATS
Front mount seats – often called Mini’s – are attached at the handlebar stem of your bike. Child age range 1-3 years.
MID MOUNT SEATS
Mid mount seats are placed over the top tube (top bar) of your bike frame. Child age range 2-6yrs.
REAR MOUNT SEATS
Rear mount seats – often called Maxi’s – are mounted over the rear wheel of your bike. Either on a rear bike carrier or attached to the seat post tube on your frame. Child age range 2-6 years.
CARBON FRAMES/ROAD BIKES
Carbon frames and carbon seat posts are designed to be lightweight and are not built for strength. You can not excessively screw or attach a kids bike seat to a carbon frame. This is also the case for road bikes which are usually designed for speed not strength. The diameter of road bike frames is also skinnier than standard frames, most kids bike seats need a minimum 28mm width. Ideally adding the weight of a kid and seat needs the strength of a standard diameter steel frame.
The Shotgun kids seat is compatible with both carbon and full suspension mountain bike frames
DoLittle mid mount seat can be used with carbon frames
Road bike frames are not a good match to kids bike seat attachment
FULL SUSPENSION MOUNTAIN BIKE
Full suspension bikes and rear seats are not compatible. Because the back of a full suspension mountain bike is not rigid but designed to move with impact you can not attach a rear carrier to your bike, so you can not attach rear carrier mounted seats. The placement of your rear suspension may also interfere with a rear frame mount seat. You need 12.5cm of clear space on the seat post tube to mount this type of seat. For more information Will a Rear Mount seat Fit on Your Bike?
Most adults with mountain bikes will want to continue to use their mountain bike when they have kids. Attaching mounting systems for seats that are not easily removed is not ideal if you are still riding. Exception: Shotgun Kids Mountain Bike Seat that can be fully removed in less than 30 seconds.
See also Carbon Frames, Threadless Handlebar Stems
THREADLESS HANDLEBAR STEMS
Sport style bikes – mountain bikes, trail bikes will more than likely have a threadless handlebar stem. This type of design does not have a lot of space for attaching things like kids bike seats at the front of the bike. So you will need an A-Head adaptor to be able to mount a front bike seat. Most front mount seats do not come with this adaptor. See our solution which includes an A-Head adaptor Front Seat for Mountain Bikes
See also Carbon Frames, Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
Full Suspension mountain bike & Shotgun Kids MTB seat
A-Head adaptor mounted on a threadless stem
29 inch WHEELS
Large wheels can make it challenging to mount a rear kids bike seat (find your wheel size written on the side wall of your bike tyre). This size wheel does not work with frame mounted rear kids seat, there will not be enough clearance between the bottom of the seat and the wheel. Carrier mount seats will only work if you can find a carrier that takes up to 25kg and is the correct size for 29inch wheels. See our solution… 29 inch Carrier
See also Carbon Frames, XL Frames
FRAMES SIZES – XS,S & XL
Knowing the frame size of your bike is key to determining whether a kids bike seat will work for you. Space is a really important factor as well as gravity points for good balance – you want to avoid rear tipping which can be created by a rear seat mounted on a small frame. Extra small and small frame sizes will struggle with any of the front, mid or rear options. Most people with small frames will need to tow their child/children in bike trailers, on half bikes or choose to connect the adult bike to the child’s bike – tow frames/bars/ropes.
Exception: small frame bikes that put the rider in an upright body position and have sweep back handlebars create space in front of your body for front & mid mount seats.
Extra large frames are not compatible with the Do Little mid mount seat as it is a rigid design that does not allow for unusual frame shapes.
Some helpful links
- about front space – Front mount seat
- frame size – Rear mount seat
- attaching a Do Little mid mount seat – Mid mount seat
See also 29 inch Wheels
Town bikes may create enough space for a Mini seat to be attached to a small frame
The DoLittle mid mount seat may also work with small frames if the bike puts the rider in an upright body position
Hugely popular and growing market – electric bikes are a great choice for using with children as they will make the experience easier on the adult rider. You just need to be aware of the placement of your battery and how that may affect the position of a kids bike seat.
Batteries can be incorporated into the frame down tube or seat post tube – which means they will change the diameter of the tubing significantly. This will be an issue with mid mount seats that have a lower attachment to the down tube. This will be an issue with rear frame mount seats that attach to the seat post tube.
Batteries can be position directly behind a seat post tube. This will interfere with your ability to bolt any type of clamp onto the seat post tube so you will not be able to use a rear frame mount seat.
Batteries can be position on or below the rear carrier. This will be an issue for either of the rear mount options – frame or carrier. Frame mounted seats need a certain amount of clearance above the rear wheel to be safe. Good quality carrier mount seats will clamp onto the rear carrier so need room to curve under the side rails of your carrier. Other rear carrier seats may only mount to their own carrier system which may not be compatible with your battery.
See also Full Suspension, Frames Sizes
Electric bike with battery placed behind seat post tube
Electric bike with battery over rear carrier
Brakes & Gears
When adding the weight of a seat and your child to a bike the handling and balance of the bike will change. This may take a bit of time to adapt too. It is a great idea to have a good range of gears because getting going and climbing hills will be harder – electric bikes help here. Brakes will have to cope with added weight meaning you will need to brake before you normally would and be careful to use both brakes evenly.
Please check your brakes regularly as well as having a good routine of checking your whole bike… Am I safe to ride?
get Ready and goRide – Will your bike work with an attached kids bike seat?
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