Child Bike Seat Buying Guide
There's lot to consider when deciding on the best cycle seat for your child. So here's everything you might need to know in order to make the decision as easier as possible. In short though, here is the process:
1. Decide whether you want a front or rear mounted seat
2. Identify any fitting limitations with your current bicycle
3. Decide what features you want on your cycle seat
4. Choose your preferred seats from those that suit your requirements
1. Decide on front or rear mounting
In simple terms there are two types of child seat, front mounted or rear mounted and depending on the age of your child will likely dictate which type you go for.
For ages up to 3yrs (12kg) a front mounting child seat is a great option. However beyond that age/weight the extra bulk on that part of the adult's bike becomes a challenge.
For any age up to 6yrs (21kg) a rear mounting child seat provides a safe and secure solution.
Front mounting cycle seats attach to either the handlbars, or more commonly to the seat top tube and will mean that, when you are your cycle, your child will be in front of you and looking in the direction of travel. This is great fun for them as they can see all around and have an uninterrupted view of what is happening ahead. However, these seats are only suitable for smaller children as there a finite amount of space you can take up on the front handlebars.
Rear mounting cycle seats attach to either the frame (specifically the seat tube) or to the pannier rack, if you have one fitted. Your child will then be behind you and although they will be looking in the direction of travel they will have to look around the adult powering the cycle. However the benefit of this arrangement is that their face is kept out of the wind and they are less likely to be hit by any oncoming debris (no flies in the eye for example)
2. Identify any fitting limitations
Once you have identified front or rear mounting it's then a case of choosing the right seat to fit your current bicycle.
What bike type do you have?
When considering rear mounted children's cycle seats, there are two types, those that attach to your bicycle seat tube and those which attach to the panier rack. Depending on the kind of bike you have, one fitting type may be more suitable for you.
Seat Tube Fitting
These seats are fitted to the cycle using a mounting bracket attached to the seat tube, from which the seat is then cantilevered off. So the only thing holding up the seat are the silver metal bars. As you can see, you need to have the mounting point high up enough so as to clear the rear wheel, and that's once you have your child in the seat, as there will be an element of sag.
The seat tube, as the name suggests, is the part of the frame that the seat and seat post fit in to. On a normal cycle this tube is circular and straight and if your bike is the same then it's unlikely that you will have any difficulties fitting a child's cycle seat to it. However some bikes have curved seat tubes, often found on full suspension mountain bikes or non circular tubes which is normally the preserve of high end carbon fibre framed road bikes. Either of these "non standard" seat tube styles may lead to issues with child seat fitting so please do check with us first.
If you have a regular framed bike the other element to consider is whether you enough seat tube to fit the bracket to. If you have a very small frame and/or the chainstays overlap the seat tube, fitting may again be limited.
Pannier Rack Fitting
The pannier rack cycle seats are designed to attach to a pannier rack, rather than directly to the frame itself. There is no significant increase in safety but the cantilever design of a frame mount introduces a small amount of bounce for your child (they will bob up and down slightly when in motion) whereas the pannier mount options avoid this. Of course, if your current bike doesn't have a pannier mount, then you will need to fit one first, and not all bikes can accommodate one.
3. Decide what features you want
There are a number of different features across the many cycle seat designs.