Thinking about cycling with your little ones? Want to know how to ride with your bigger ones in tow? Our guide will help you choose between the three main types of child bike seats and advise you on how to cycle safely with your kids.
Which child bike seat is best?
Firstly, you need to make sure the child bike seat you’re buying is the right fit for your child. Most of them are designed with height and weight rather than age in mind, so it’s worth measuring your baby or child before heading into one of our stores or browsing online. You can start putting your baby in a bike seat from about 9 months old if s/he can support her/his own head and thus wear a helmet. Most baby-appropriate seats can carry up to 22kg. For older children, you’ll need a different kind of bike seat, which can safely carry up to 35kg.
The biggest difference in bike seats for children is where they’re positioned on your bike:
Front-mounted child bike seats
This kind of child bike seat sits in front of you and your arms must reach around it to hold onto the handlebars. Many parents prefer front-mounted seats for babies because the child is always visible, and an added advantage is that the seat is designed to be more compact than other types because you have to be able to see over it to look at the road. We really like this seat as it comes with a handlebar attachment and in entirely washable!
Rear-mounted child bike seats
The most readily available type of kid’s bike seat, a rear-mounted design fits over the back wheel of your bike and has a high back, leg guards and straps or a harness. It offers plenty of support, even if your child nods off on the journey – it’s a good life if you can get it! The Hamax Smiley is always a good option for taking your child with you on your bike as it offers comfort and safety!
Bike tows and trailers
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a bike seat, but it’s ideal if you’re riding with more than one child. It’s essentially a covered carriage with two wheels and a long arm that attaches to your bike. Inside the trailer your child will be strapped in and protected by a breathable, waterproof exterior with transparent windows so s/he can see out. You’ll need to be extra careful when making sharp turns with a trailer attached to your bike though – the extra weight makes it prone to tipping. For even bigger kids who want to ride on their own, we recommend buying a bike tow, which joins his/her bike and an adult bike together to help them learn to ride or take the pressure off on longer journeys. Looking for a durable option? Our Trail-Gator tow is a trusty investment.
Our top safety tips for cycling with a child
- Always wear a helmet – that goes for both you and your child – to reduce the risk of head injury
- Ensure your child’s bike seat has footrests or straps to stop his/her feet getting caught in the spokes of the wheel. You should also be mindful of anything else that could get caught and drag your child out of his/her seat – think baggy clothing, scarves, laces and long hair
- Check your bike is compatible with your chosen child bike seat so that when it’s attached it’s 100% secure and safe for your child to sit in
- Look out for seats that tilt as they’ll stop your child slouching forward and either putting unnecessary weight on the harness or slipping out of the shoulder straps
- If you’re using a trailer on the road, give impatient drivers plenty of space and set your own pace – don’t feel pressured into speeding up and losing control
- In the UK, child seats should carry BSI number BS EN 14344:2004, which shows they comply with required safety standards
For More Information
Are you interested in Cycling in general? Do you have a Road Bike? If yes, check out our expert advice on How To Set Up Your Road Bike!