Child Bike Seats: How to Choose

By Eric Awwy, 04 Jan 2020

Riding with children is a sure way to have fun unrestricted. However, until they are strong and old enough to ride, you only have the option of enjoining them as your passive passengers or riding buddies. Well, a child bike seat can do the magic trick for you. They are an innovative way to allow parents to get out and about with their toddlers or even preschoolers.

Bike seats come in all varieties. Brands, size, mounting styles, compactness, and color are but a few distinctive features to separate ones taste. However, not just any seat can fit on any bike. That is why we have put up this comprehensive article to guide you in your choosing child bike seats.

Therefore, if you are wondering how to choose the best bike seat for your child, read this article. Also, share with other parents. Doing so is just a means of passing the button to the young ones to conserve and preserve planet earth. Cycling does that, exactly!

At what Age can a Child go on a Bike Seat?

parent cycling an infant

Most parents desire to cycle with their infants. So, you will find them asking “, can you Ride a Bike with an Infant?”- Yes, it is possible to ride with an infant. In this case, if you would like to cycle with a six-months-old to the 4-year-old baby, a child bike sit would be the best option.

Most of the bike seat manufacturers recommend nine months to 4 years. However, setting the lower limit age depends on if your child:

  • Can sit up without any support. Mostly, it would help if you test this on a clear It does not mean when they are supported with cushions or whatever material.
  • Old enough to wear a helmet. Remember, the number one safety rule in cycling is wearing a helmet.

Nevertheless, thanks to innovative child bike seats, we have reclining seats that can accommodate six-month toddlers. So, still, if your kid is not able to support themselves independently, you can choose the reclining versions.

Age is a factor that restricts the upper limit when a child can use a bike seat. Typically, kid’s bike seats are restricted to children weighing 40lb or 20kg and below. Forcing a child who weighs more could mean exceeding the tested and trusted weight limits.

Necessarily, this does not mean that it will break. However, it makes steering and controlling the bike cumbersome. In some cases, especially when it is a rear-fitting seat, you are likely to get tired pedaling or handling the bike.

How Many Bike Seats Can a Bike Handle?

We have always insisted on a one-child-one bike seat rule. After all, that is how they are designed. However, depending on the terrain of your residence area, you can mount two bike seats on a single bike. Yes! That is right; you can use both front and rear bike seats for that purpose. 

It is always preferable to do so when in flat areas. Otherwise, you can face challenges trying to handle the bike.  In the case of two children, and tricky terrain, a child trailer will offer superior performance and advantages for two children.

Are Bike Seats Safe? Is the front or rear bike seat safe?

Just like child trailers, bike seats are safe. The bike seat versus bike seat debate has been ongoing. In fact, they are a reliable way to carry children and cargo. As both allow you to share rides and cycling benefits with your kids, it is always good to consider safety fast. Check the straps, material, ductility, and safety ratings.

However, with a kid’s helmet on, you have no safety issue to worry about. Only that when in the bile boulevards, streets, bike paths, or the road, ride the bike with the mind that you have a fragile passenger. Oh well! Passive cycling partner!

How high should a child’s bike seat be?

Pros and Cons of Front Mounted Seats/Front Fitting Seats

As the name suggests, the front mounted child bike seats are compatible with children from 9 months to 3 years. The child in question should be weighing 33lbs and below.  They are suitable for the young toddlers riding with an average to tall adult. Mostly, they are mounted below the handlebars. Some of the front-fitting bike seats are made of plastic. Apart from the molded plastic seats, there is the option of saddle and footrest type. The latter is for older children who can afford to hold themselves.


  • Your child can see more. When at the front, they get to experience nature and surroundings.
  • It is easier to converse with your child.
  • Your child won’t bother you by pulling or clinging on your clothes or hair.
  • Brings a better bike balance, especially when taking corners and on bumps.
  • You can take the chance to explain to the child different things — types of cars, traffic rules, and what is ahead.
  • It makes getting on and off the bike with ease.


  • Front-fitted seats expose children to headwinds or wind chill.
  • It is possible for a tired child to slip or let their feet dangle into the front wheel causing problems when riding.
  • It comes with the risk of raising the center of gravity of the bike. When you brake suddenly, it is likely that the child will take much of the fall.
  • If too wide, it can make cycling cumbersome. Imagine cycling with your knees all spread.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Rear-Fitting Child Bike Seats

There are two types of rear-fitting seats: the rear frame mounted seat, and the rear rack mounted seat. The former is mounted or cantilevered on the seat tube of a bike while the latter on the rear carrier bike rack. There is another option where the bike seat is directly fixed to the seat stays and the seat tube.

Most of the rear frame mounted seats are made of big plastics with two bolt holes to hold it to the seat tube. Two-pronged racks then support the seat. Some do not have the racks and can slightly bend forward or recline.

The seats fixed on the rear career always slide and lock on the top of the rack. They come with a safety strap, some mechanical some magnetic, around the seat tube or post for additional safety.

Those fixed directly to the seat tubes and seat stays come with long legs bolted to the seat stays. They are bolted using quick release and a bracket that holds onto the seat tube to eliminate back and forth movement.

 The rear-mounted seats are suitable for 9-12 month-old toddlers weighing close to 48-60lbs. They are suited for tall kids aged nine months and above. It is an option to consider when going for longer rides where there are chances that the baby might sleep.


  • They can recline and are best-fit for the taller and older children.
  • Because they are suspended the cushioning from shock is excellent.
  • If rising in the wild or bike parking in the woods, it is likely that a branch won’t hit your child. Here is where you take the hit for the one you love:-).
  • They protect the child from debris, headwind, and any oncoming particles.
  • Good for parents with long legs as they allow comfortable pedaling.


  • Just like front-mounted seats, the rear variation affects the bike balance.
  • It is sometimes hard to mount and dismount.
  • You cannot see your child as you ride.
  • Communication is also hard sometimes, especially when it is windy. It makes conversations difficult.

Observably, most of the new rear bike seats that are being manufactured are frame-mounted. Therefore, they directly attach to the frames of the bikes compared to those that attach to the carrier racks. They are the cheapest version of rear-fitting seats as there is no need for buying carriers.

Things to think through when choosing a Child Bike Seat

Shopping for a bike seat for your child can be extremely disappointing. Why?-You are spoilt for choices, already! It is always good, to begin with, the first things first. Here is a list of what you should consider:

  • Compatibility of the seat with your bike;
  • Type of mount;
  • Age and Size of the child;
  • Design of the seat;
  • The types of the shoulder straps;
  • Suspension of the seat;
  • Footrest ;
  • Seat accessories.

Compatibility of the Adult bike and the Child Bike Seat

Compatibility is a great decision factor when purchasing a bike seat for toddlers. There are minimum requirements for mounting both rear and front fitting bike seats.

Rear Tube-Mounted Bike Seats

When choosing a rear frame-mounted bike seat, you should consider:

1. The distance of the saddle from the frame

Saddles too close to the frame when in the lowest position or almost touching the frame are cumbersome to mount rear-fitting seat.

It is preferable to have at least 2 inches clearance between the frame and the seat. However, if this is not the case, and your seat is low on the bike frame, you can get the low saddle adapters or bars. These exceed the length of the standard bars and can allow the seat to be extended beyond the saddle of the rider.

2. Presence of cabling on the seat tube

Most of the frame mounted seats adhere to the seat tube. It is important to consider is there us cabling. Otherwise, if there are cables or low mounted frame tubes, the rear-mounted bike seats cannot fit. In this case, the rack or carrier-mounted seat comes in handy.

That is just for the rear-fitting seats cantilevered on the seat tube. Let us now delve into the specifics for the rack mounted bike seats.

Rear-Rack or Carrier Mounted Seats

When you are considering to settle for the rear rack-mounted bike seat versions, consider these questions:

1. Does the adult bike have a rack or carrier? Not all the adult bikes come with a carrier/rack. In this case, you will need to factor in the costs of a bike rack/carrier.

2. Does the adult bike have disc brakes? From our tests, observations, and research, we can conclude that only bikes with disc brakes have a large rotor on the tire hub. Therefore, they are compatible with most of the bike racks. However, there are specific bike racks that you can buy.

3. Are there eyelets for rack mounting on your bike? Although people ignore this, most of the bikes do not have eyelets for mounting the racks. They are the only way to attach a bike rack to your bike. Remember, no bike rack, your option will be narrowed to the bike seats cantilevered on the seat tube. The eyelets on the frame come in pair. They signal a bike compatible with a rack.

Considerations for Front-Fitting Bike Seats

1. The type of headset. There are two major types of bike headsets for adult bikes. These are the quill or threaded type and the ahead or threadless types. The threaded headset type is compatible with most front-fitting seat mounts. Fitting seats into the threadless headsets call for the use of adapters. However, too wide handlebars for the latter might affect the fitting of the mounting bracket.

2. The distance between the stem and the seat tube. Most front-mounted seats take close to 10-11 inches of the space between the saddle and the bike stem holding the handlebars. Too close distance means trouble controlling the bike as the set will be directly on your chest. The type of bike you are using also matters. If it is the mountain bike, cruiser, or a hybrid, you are guaranteed some distance. However, road bikes give you close contact as you have to lean ahead to reach the handlebars.

3. The space to mount the bike seat. It is recommended that you consider this space as the mounting brackets fit there. Most mounting brackets are between half an inches to an inch and a half thick. Essentially, the thickness of the mounting bracket dictates the space required. You can always consult with your bike mechanic if spacers can be added on your bike.

Front Seat Add-ons-Accessorize the Seat for a Nice Ride!

It is imperative also to consider the taste of your kids. There are various add-ons that you can include on the front-mounted bike seat. Accessorizing the front seat for your child is a way to make them comfortable. Mostly, the accessories are meant to throw in some fun and make the kids happy.

You can decide to purchase front mounted seat handlebars if your child is grippy with stuff. Ordinarily, if you are those parents that push the pedals with adrenaline, you might want to consider the handlebars. The child can cling on the handlebars for comfort. Besides, since chances of meeting headwinds and other debris or particles is high, some manufacturers have little windscreens for the front bike seats.

 If your kid is a superhero fan, you can get them their superhero figure dolls to spice up the ride. I mean, anybody would do anything to make their kid happy.  Another add on would be using child bike seat waterproof covers or child bike seat padding.

Design of the Children Bike Seat

When purchasing a bike seat, the design should be one of the first lookout factors. There are different child bike seat brands, and so are diverse designs. Different factors define the design of the bike seat including:

  • Suspension
  • The shape of the bike seat
  • Type of footrest
  • Type of the shoulder straps


suspension systems of rear frame mounted and rack child bike seats

The suspension is the most critical part of the bike seats. Fundamentally, it is an equivalent to the mountain bike suspension, and thus it cushions children from shocks from the bumps.

Rising over speed bumps or rough terrains can be unpleasant to the baby on board. So, the suspension brings the much-deserved comfort for the honorable passenger. Mostly, only the rear-fitting mounted seats have suspensions. It also features on the rack-mounted bike seats.

The latter has a set of springs located in the mounting bracket, which flexes to allow the seat to move up and down. The rear frame mounted seats attach on the metal mounting bars attaching the seat to the bike frame. Generally, the suspensions stretch to allow the seat to absorb any stress and forces.

Related to suspension is the ability to recline. Reclining child bike seats come in handy when the kids fall asleep. Ordinarily, when going bike parking with kids or on bike tours with kids, just the long rides, they can sleep.

 In this case, the reclining seats prevent exhaustion on their necks by relieving the tension. Yes, it makes them ride like a boss! If your child is one of those kids who sleeps the entire way when riding, consider buying seats which can recline. Note that this is a feature for the rear-fitting bike seats.

The shape of the Bike Seat

Child bike seats come in different shapes. Like the suspension, the shape also defines the comfortability of the seat. Some bike seats have a lower seat back height to allow the straps to pass to the front. Others, have taller backs to secure the shoulder straps and support the weight of the child, especially when they are asleep.

Some bike seats feature the bumpers to prevent the arms or fingers from scratching nearby objects. It is a design feature for additional safety.

Still, it is essential to look for the helmet pockets. Also a safety and comfort design feature, the helmet pockets prevent the head of the child from being accidentally pushed by inertia towards your back or towards the front of the bike. Thus, it makes rides smoother and prevents the risk of hitting their heads on the saddle or your back.


Bike seats come with the option of either having a footrest or sacrificing it for lightness. Footrests are a design feature that supports the feet of children when aboard a bike. They can be incorporated both for front and rear mounted bike seats. Some footrest includes locking straps for securing the child’s feet in place.

It is important to consider them for the front-mounted seats as they prevent children from accidentally shifting the gears with their legs. Furthermore, the fact that the feet can reach the handlebar can cause problems when cycling. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Shoulder Strap

The design of the shoulder strap should also be a deciding factor. Shoulder straps are the first critical safety factor on bike seats. They help secure the child on the seat through the shoulders.  Some can be magnetic while others are mechanical. Regardless, you should always consider straps that are easy to operate.

Furthermore, consider the shoulder straps that allow you to adjust vertically depending on the height of the kid. Notably, shoulder straps that need rethreading other than sliding adjustments are hard to operate.

What is more…?

1. Reversible Seat Covers. Bike seats come with the option of changing the seat cover. In this case, you need to purchase a reversible seat cover. It helps give the seat a new color, probably for every ride.

2. Adjustable headrest. This feature helps ensure a perfect fit of the kid bike seat. The headrest and harness can be adjusted to different positions depending on the height of the child.

3. Adjustable backrest. This is the same as the recliner, as explained above. It helps to hold the kid to a comfortable sleeping posture and position.

4. Shoulder Pads. Magnetic belt locks come with shoulder pads to secure the child in the seat for safety and comfort.

5. Protective spoke cover. Some seats come with a protective spoke cover for protection of clothes and feet from getting entangled on the spokes of the wheel accidentally.

6. Safety Standards of the Seat. Another critical thing to consider when purchasing a kid bike seat is the ASTM 1625-00 Safety Standard (USA).

Parting Shot

Kid bike seats work well for children from 9 months to 4 years of age. A series of anecdotal evidence confirms that child bike seats can accommodate children of between 20kgs/ 33 lbs., to 48lbs.  It is, therefore, essential to consider weight rather than age when deciding to purchase a bike seat for your toddler or child.

Bike seats are just a fun add-on feature to the bikes. Accessorizing your bike to incorporate your kid into your cycling routine is pure bliss! It saves you the worry of bike parking, bike tours, or family cycling when you have tikes to carry along.

When cycling with your kids on board, it is standard practice that they put on helmets. Besides, you should ensure that the bike is visible to other road users. Therefore, wear the right cycling attire. Have a happy choosing session, now that we have laid everything bear! Won’t you?

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