Whether your child is 6 months or 5 years old, or somewhere in between, the easiest way to carry them with you on a bicycle is on a kids bike seat.
For most cases a centre-mounted front bike seat will be the best option. But that may not be the case depending on how you plan to ride with your child.
So, how do you choose the one for you when there are so many seats out there? You need to consider the types of seat, what bike you have, safety features and more. We’ve put together 5 tips to choosing the best kids bike seat.
- Consider the different types of child bike seats
- Choose a bike seat based on your bike
- Ensure the bike seat is safe
- Look for products supported with customer service and spares
- Benefits of buying a child bike seat
1. Consider the Different Types of Child Bike Seats
There are 3 different types of kid’s bike seats – rear mounted, front mounted and centre mounted.
Front Mounted Bike Seat – a bike seat mounted on the front handlebars.
Centre Mounted Bike Seat – a bike seat situated in front of the rider but mounted over the crossbar.
Rear Mounted Bike Seat – a bike seat mounted over the rear wheel behind the rider.
We’ll take a look at their advantages and disadvantages but first last tackle one of the most frequently asked questions we get.
WHAT AGE CAN A BABY / CHILD USE A BICYCLE SEAT
The recommended age for children in a bike seat is 1 to 4 years. But as kids all develop at different rates this can vary. The WeeRide centre seat can be used from as early as 6 months as your child is in front of you and you can deal with their needs. And some rear seats you would be able to use up to the age of 5 years. It all depends on how your child has developed. The key point is whether your child’s neck muscles are strong enough. Can they comfortably wear a helmet? Would you feel confident that they could cope with the bumps in the road. Only you as a parent will know when the right time is. If in doubt… wait.
FRONT MOUNTED BABY BIKE SEATS – SUIT AGES 9 MONTHS TO 4 YEARS
Bike seats mounted in front of the rider became popular with the launch of WeeRide over 15 years ago. Front mounted seats gave you the benefit of being able to communicate with your child, which was clearly more fun for the child and adult. If your child drops something or needs your help, you can see them and deal with any issue. But had the disadvantage of adding all the weight to the front of the bike, often directly on the steering, something that could be dangerous under heavy braking.
CENTRE MOUNTED BABY BIKE SEATS – SUIT AGES 6 MONTHS TO 4 YEARS
WeeRide produces the only truly centre mounted baby bicycle seat. A centre mounted child bicycle seat has all the benefits of the front mounted baby bike seat, but without the disadvantage of adding the child’s weight to the front of the bike. The patented bar connects to the bike’s frame under the headset and on the seat post, and this centralises the child’s weight. So you can talk to your child and point things out, and they are completely safe in their seat with your arms around them and the weight is centralised. The WeeRide improves the balance of the bike.
REAR MOUNTED CHILD BIKE SEATS – SUIT AGES 1 TO 5 YEARS
The traditional bike seat was the rear one. The rear seat has the benefit of taking a child up to the age of 5 with the right model, but they are very bulky. The size of the seat and child, and their position, can lead to instability of the bike. They also mean that communication with your child is very difficult. You cannot see what they are up to, and if you do turn around to check, you can unbalance the bike which is clearly dangerous.
So, with such clear disadvantages why do we still see so many being used? It Is because they have been around the longest. Plus there were so many misunderstandings about front and centre seats and how safe they were, that meant the old fashioned seats maintained a large percentage of the market up until recently. Although WeeRide don’t make rear mounted seats there are some great rear mounted models made by the likes of Polisport and Bellelli.
2. Choose a child bike seat based on your bike
The type of bike you have influences how to choose the best child bike seat. Most bikes can accommodate all types of seat so your choice is often based on where you would prefer your child to be positioned on the bike.
The drop handlebars on a road bike means the rider has to lean forward over the crossbar to get to the lower position. Rear bikes seats are generally better suited unless you are willing to sacrifice being able to reach the lower handlebars. That said, you’ll still be able to reach the main handlebar.
I would certainly be looking at a front or centre mounted seat on a mountain bike. A mountain bike child seat going over all the rough terrain without having an eye on your child would just be too much of a concern. The WeeRide also uniquely fits full suspension bikes.
As above, I would recommend a front or centre mounted seat. Just for the benefits of being able to communicate with your child and for their enjoyment.
Front seats are perfect for Cruiser bikes where you tend to have more space between the rider and the handlebars, a good example being the Ibert Baby Bike Seat.
CHOOSE A BIKE SEAT THAT IS COMPATIBLE WITH DIFFERENT BIKES
You may want to use your bike seat on different types of bikes. Consider if it’s easy to switch from your road bike to your mountain bike for example. The benefit of the WeeRide baby bike seat is that it fits most bikes out there. It only needs 5mm of space on the frame under the headset to attach the front bracket to. But in cases where there isn’t even 5mm, we have 2 adaptors that can be used to ensure they fit over 99% of all bikes. We also supply an extra mounting bar so you can have one on each bike and easily just switch the seat over.
3. Ensure Your Bicycle Child Seats Is Safe
Before buying any baby bike seat you have to check whether it meets the safety regulations. Look for the EN14344 approval, this indicates a product has been thoroughly tested to ensure your child’s safety. Ideally if it has been tested in a country like Germany by GS or TUV who are the recognised authorities in testing.
If it’s not clear a seat has this approval you should be wary. If they have tested the seat themselves, then there is another red flag. Whilst many high quality products do exist, we often see products that have been self tested originating from China.
You want the safest baby bike seat for your child.
Is it sold by a major brand? This should give you peace of mind and know that safety would be their priority – WeeRide, Polisport, Belelli, Hamax, Raleigh are all major companies that would not take a chance with your child’s safety.
SAFETY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN THE BEST KIDS BIKE SEAT
Footrests are great for keeping your child’s feet away from the moving parts of a bike. Here are some things to consider: is there any chance of entrapment? Are the feet secured in place to ensure no opportunity to go near the bike’s wheels.
Restraints are critical to keep your child safely inside the seat without any possibility of falling out. Will your child be held securely on the seat? Ideally a 5 point safety harness is your best option.
Well made seat – is your child protected and supported? Is there protection at the rear and on the sides? Is the seat well made by a reputable company?
It is important your child is comfortable or they will not enjoy their ride and will not want to use the seat in the future. Is there support for them on the sides and the back? Is the seat properly cushioned for them? Is there a headrest for them to sleep on – you will be amazed how many kids fall asleep under 2 years of age due to the movement of the bike, just like a car seat!
Not the be all and end all, but it can be a clear indication of a seat’s quality if a major retailer is supporting it. Not every retailer can support every seat, we all know the pressures on space. But the WeeRide for example has been supported by Mothercare, ELC, Asda, Halfords, Evans, Cycle Surgery in the UK. In Australia they have been supported in Big W, Anaconda, 99 Bikes etc. Some of whom independently test their products before supporting. Whereas it is worth noting Amazon are not responsible for making any safety checks on the seats they sell.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT & HEIGHT FOR A FRONT CHILD BIKE SEAT
The weight limits are set by EU (15kgs) and US (18kgs). However, these are based on seats that attach to the handlebars where it is clearly dangerous to have too much weight directly affecting steering.
WeeRide seats are unique as although they are at the front of the bike they are not front mounted. They actually improve the balance of the bike as the patented centre-mounted bar puts all the baby weight in the centre of the bike.
For WeeRide bike seats weight is never the factor that stops a child using the seat, it is height. The child will start to run out of room for their legs. But because kids have different body and leg make-ups, and bikes have different geometries, we don’t give an official height. We just generalise and say height becomes an issue around aged 4.
4. Choose a bike seat that has great customer service
You know you’ve found the best kids bike seat when it lasts many years and is passed down from child to child. Finding a product that is well supported with both customer service and spares can be really useful.
Giving the seat a freshen up with some new straps or replacing the occasional part saves the cost of buying an entirely new seat if anything does break or wear out.
WeeRide is a family business. We set the company up after buying a seat and falling in love with it. We want every customer to be as happy as we were when using the seats with our kids. If you have any issues we want to help and have a wide selection of spares to keep you moving.
5. Benefits of buying a child bike seat
Buying a child bike seat is a big decision for you and your child. It is saying you want to spend quality time with your child outdoors whilst looking after your own health. So why else should you buy a seat and what should you consider?
- Have fun – how much enjoyment will your child have if their view is of your back and you can’t hear them? We would always recommend a front or centre mounted seat.
- Get your child to school – can the seat be easily removed once you have reached your destination? The WeeRide Safe Front Bike Seat can be removed in seconds.
- Go on adventures – maybe off roading, dirt tracks etc. We would always recommend a front or centre mounted seat for safety.
- Spend quality time with your child whilst exercising – better than leaving them in a creche at a gym, or spending your time with them in front of the tv.
So when you look for your version of the best kids bike seat, check if it suits how you plan to use your bike with your child.
Using a kids or baby bike seat allows you to interact with your child whilst enjoying the outside world and improving your fitness levels. It really does tick all the boxes.
Whichever child bike seat you choose, the most important thing is that your child is safe.
The best way to ensure this is to buy from a major brand such as WeeRide, Polisport, Bellelli or Hamax. This will give you confidence the seat has passed approved quality and safety requirements.