Want to take your child, toddler or baby bike riding with you? Of course, the first thing you are going to think about is the safety of your child. But there are other factors to consider too, including your child’s age and weight, the number of kids, and your personal riding preferences. Here are 7 of the best child bike seats, compared. There are several videos to help you decide which child bike seat will work best for you and your child.
Note that these child bike seats are not ranked in order of preference. Each one offers different benefits and is suitable for a specific age range. For example, if your child is younger than 18 months, go directly to choice no. 3, as the first two choices are suitable for children who are older than 18 months.
Chart Comparing 7 of the Best Child Bike Seats
|Rear mounted, attaches to seat post||Best for children who are at least 18 months old. Rated for children from 9 months to 6 years old, up to 48.5 lb (22 kg)||5 different reclining options; adjustable footrests; height adjustable, padded safety harness with child proof safety buckle; springs; reversible, washable seat cover; quick release bracket||$140.00|
|Rear mounted, attaches to seat post||Best for children who are at least 18 months old. Rated to carry children up to 40 pounds (18 kg)||Complies with the most stringent European safety requirements and has won multiple design awards. Includes 5-point harness, adjustable footrests, shoulder pads; theft-proof; rated as “the Cadillac of bike seats”||$0.00|
|Front mounted, attaches to headset||Suitable for children from about 12 months, once they can comfortably hold their heads up for extended periods. Tested for children aged 9 months to 3 years old; rated for up to 33 lb (15 kg)||Easy mounting; soft and shock-absorbing seat; adjustable 5-point harness; comfort handle bar for child’s hands||$154.99|
|Front mounted, attaches to headset and seat post and the headset||Suitable for children from about 12 months, once they can comfortably hold their heads up for extended periods. Rated to carry children up to 40 pounds||Very thick seat and back padding; adjustable footrests; plush headrest in the front for nap time.||$79.97|
|Trailer; attaches to seat post||Can carry up to 2 children; rated for up to 100 pounds (45 kg)||Exceeds ASTM standards for safety and durability; lightweight; hammock-style seat; 5-point harness; windows have UPF 30 sun protection; full internal roll cage; bright colors; reflective elements; safety flag||$298.99|
|Separate mini-bike that attaches to seat post of your post||Recommended for children aged 4 to 9; rated for up to 75 pounds. Weighs 24 pounds||Allows child to help with the pedaling and learn some cycling skills||$146.21|
|Bicycle that is especially designed to carry cargo - in this case, children||Suitable for children over one year old. Exact suitability depends on which one you choose - be advised by the manufacturers' recommendations||Features will vary depending on which one you buy; some carry children in the front, others at the back; option of getting an electric cargo bike||Check with your local bike shop|
No. 1 : Rear-mounted Thule Ride Along Child Bike Seat
Rear-mounted child bike seats are suitable for children aged from at least 18 months and older. There are two kinds:
- rear-mounted bike seats that attach to the bike frame (usually the seat tube) – these are by far the most common, and are more comfortable as they utilize whatever shock absorbing system your bike has, plus they also sometimes have their own springs
- rear-mounted bike seats that attach to the bike rack (requires your bike to have a suitable rack, or eyelets that are intended for mounting a rack).
You can see a rear-mounted bike seat in the video below from minute 1:50.
Some of these rear-mounted child bikes seats have springs for comfort, and some even have a reclining option! The reclining option can come in handy, as these seats are very comfortable for children, and they are likely to fall asleep. Our choice for #1 best child bike seat is the Thule Ride Along, which is a rear-mounted child bike seat that attaches to your seat post. It offers all of the premium features found on the best child bike seats, plus some extras. Notable is that you can tilt the chair with one hand, to enable 5 different reclining options for sleepy kids! It offers adjustable footrests and a height adjustable, padded safety harness with a child proof safety buckle. It also has springs for comfort, a reversible, washable seat cover, and a quick release bracket. The frame will help to protect your kids if you fall, which is typical of this style of seat. The seat is rated for children from 9 months to 6 years old, up to 48.5 lbs./22 kg.
You can see the Thule Ride Along bike seat at minute 3:07 of the video below:
Using a rear-mounted child bike seats requires you to adjust your sense of balance to having a weight on the back on the bike. Also, depending on how agile you are, you may find getting on the bike to be a bit of a learning curve!
Safety note: If your child is heavy (over 30 pounds) and extremely active, they could upset your balance by making sudden big movements while in the rear-mounted bike seat. This happened to Maggie when her oldest son was a child, and almost caused her to fall over. If this is the case with your child, it might be safer to use a bike trailer such as the Burley Bee Trailer – see our no. 5 choice below. Trailers have the advantage of being very stable.
No. 2: Rear-mounted Thule Yepp Maxi
Our no. 2 choice is also a rear-mounted child bike seat. The Thule Yepp Maxi complies with the most stringent European safety requirements and is certified by the Dutch TNO Institute. It has won these awards: Baby Innovation Award Winner, Reddot Design Award Winner, Good Industrial Design Winner, Dutch Design Award, and Fiets Innovative Award. This rear-mounted bike seat attaches to your seat post and includes a 5-point harness, adjustable footrests, and shoulder pads for comfort. It is rated to carry children up to 40 pounds (18 kg) and is designed to be theft-proof. You can see this bike seat at minute 4:00 of the video above, where it is rated as “the Cadillac of bike seats”. However, we rated it at no. 2 because we like the 5 reclining options on the Thule Ride Along. Other than that, the no. 1 and no. 2 options are very similar.
This video shows how to install a Thule Yepp Maxi bike seat, and also demonstrates how to securely strap your child in. The only sound on this video is music, so you don’t need sound to watch it.
No. 3: Front-Mounted Yepp Mini
Front-mounted bike seats are ideal for very young kids, up to the age of about two years old (unless your child is large for his or her age). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until your child is at least 12 months before putting them in a bike seat. They also note that bike trailers (see our no. 5 choice) are associated with fewer injuries (source: AAP). However, you will see younger children (from around the age of 9 months) being transported in bike seats in many countries. If your child can comfortably hold his or her head up for long periods of time, then you can consider using front-mounted bike seats from about the age of 9 months.
You can see a front-mounted bike seat at the beginning of the first video above, from minute 0:30, and also in the photo below. These seats enable you to keep a constant eye on your child, and communicate. They also provide an optimal view for your child, so that they can share the ride with you.
You may find you have to splay your knees a bit, so this option is not super comfortable, but it does enable you to keep your arms protectively around your child, and gauge if they become distressed.
Mounting tip: You need to have space on your bike’s headset to attach the seat. If your headset is threaded, it will have a locknut which you can adjust to make more space available to attach the bike seat, as shown in the photo below.
Among front-mounted bike seats, one of the highest rated is our no. 3 choice, the Thule Yepp Mini.
This bike seat features easy mounting; a soft and shock-absorbing seat; an adjustable 5-point harness; and a comfort handle bar for your child to rest their hands on. This bike seat has been tested for children aged 9 months to 3 years old, and is rated for up to 33 lb (15 kg). You can see all the thoughtful attention to detail in the Thule Yepp Mini in the video below – and notice how happy the baby is!
No 4: The Front-Mounted WeeRide Kangaroo Child Bike Seat
The front-mounted WeeRide Kangaroo Child Bike Seat is another highly rated front-mounted child bike seat, and is rated to carry children up to 40 pounds. The WeeRide Kangaroo Child bike seat has several great features, including very thick seat and back padding, adjustable footrests, and a plush headrest in the front for nap time. The video below highlights the features, including the fact that this seat is mounted to the seat post and the headset, while resting on the cross bar, making it very secure.
The video above makes much of the advantages of a front-mounted seat compared to a rear-mounted seat. While there certainly are some advantages, the reality is that the choice of rear or front mounting really comes down to the age and size of the child. Once your child is about two years old, you are probably both going to be more comfortable having her or him in a rear-mounted bike seat or a bike trailer.
No 5: The Burley Bee Child Trailer
A very common way to transport small kids on bikes is with a bike trailer, as in the photo below. You can also see this kind of device from minute 3:20 in the first video above.
Bike trailers have several significant advantages:
- You can transport more than one child, as shown in the photo above.
- You can transport kids of varying ages. As most people tend to have kids who are NOT the same ages, this can be handy!
- There is no load on your bike, so the balance of your bike is not affected. Some people are more bothered by this aspect than others. Maggie always likes a basket on the front of her bikes, but that front-weighted feeling makes me feel less in control of the bike, and I really don’t like it. This tends to be a personal thing. However, it is the reason that I only ever use a bike trailer, not a front or rear child bike seat, to transport kids.
- There is a frame around your kids, which should help to protect them in the event of a fall.
- Your kids are protected from the rain and the wind far more than if they are in a seat.
- You can also use the bike trailer for your groceries, OR you can transport one child and a dog. I tried this once and my child was outraged – especially when the dog in question threw up! However, you may have a child who is more willing to share space with a dog (and a dog that does not get motion sick!)
- Most have an additional cargo area, so they are very handy for picnics or for shopping expeditions.
Of course, you are pulling a trailer, so you have to remember that and ride accordingly. You will take up more space, and you will need more space for maneuvers such as overtaking. Also, if you like to have your eyes on your child at all times, it can be unnerving. I have always combined a bike trailer with a rear view mirror, so I can keep an eye on my kids. These are cheap, and I always install them on all my bikes, as I like to know what is happening behind me. I believe that rear view mirrors are an excellent (and strangely under-rated) safety feature.
If you want to try a bike trailer, the Burley Bee Child Trailer is one of the most trusted products on the market. I used to own one myself, when my kids were little, and it lasted forever. Burley is renowned for their safety and durability testing, with many of its products rated at up to 5 times the ASTM standard. ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials, but the standards are actually international. That is why Burley trailers last so long. It is also one of the lowest priced ASTM-certified child trailers, and is lightweight.
This bike trailer provides a comfortable, fun ride for kids. They sit in a hammock-style seat, secured with a 5-point harness. A new innovation are tinted side and rear windows with integrated UPF 30 to protect your kids from the sun. This strong bike trailer weighs just 20.5 lb, and enables you to carry up to two children. Safety features include a full internal roll cage, a choice of bright colors, reflective piping, reflectors on the wheels, and an orange safety flag. This bike trailer is rated for up to 100 pounds (45 kg).
No. 6: The WeeRide Co-Pilot Bike Trailer
These handy machines are variously called tag along bikes, bike trailers, and other things. The bottom line is that you can use them to really get your kids into cycling safely. Your kids are able to pedal, but you get to stay in control! This WeeRide Co-Pilot Bike Trailer is extremely highly rated by users. It is recommended for kids aged 4 to 9 years old, who weigh up to 75 pounds. The device itself weighs 24 pounds, so it is best if your child helps with the pedaling, but it is not required – the child can also just coast. It comes with a safety flag.
This video shows how the WeeRide Co-Pilot Bike Trailer allows you to share the joy of cycling with a child.
No. #7: Cargo Bikes
You can use cargo bikes to transport kids of any age. You can see a cargo bike from minute 5:05 of the first video in this post. Cargo bikes are hugely popular in European countries where bikes are an important part of the transport network. The cargo-carrying part may be at the front or the back.
Of course, cargo bikes require a large initial outlay, but this should pay for itself over time. You can fit two children and groceries in most cargo bikes. These bikes are quite large, but a good one is reasonably easy to ride. If you need help, you can also consider an electric cargo bike, such as this Morrison electric cargo bike that is currently on KickStarter, which I wrote about here. You can also read much more about cargo bikes for transporting kids here.
For prices on cargo bikes, check with your local bike shop. Alternatively, see if you can get a great deal on Craigslist. I have a lot of posts with advice about buying bikes online, such as this one about how to buy bikes on Craigslist.
If your child can comfortably hold us his or her head for extended periods of time, you can start to think about enjoying the fun of cycling with him or her. We trust this post has given you all the information you need to get started! If you have had any good (or bad) experiences with child bike seats, please share them with us via the comments. We always love to hear from you. And good luck with your cycling experience with your child!
As your kids grow older, you will of course want to get them riding their own bikes, so you don’t have to transport them anymore. Just kidding! But teaching a child to ride a bike is, in my humble opinion, a sacred duty. Like making them drown-proof. Teaching a child to ride a bike opens the door to a lifetime of healthy activity and fun for them. Here’s a post all about how to teach your children to ride bikes. As is stressed in that post, avoid training wheels! An ideal place to start is with a strider or balance bike, as shown in the photo below.
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