A guide to child bike seats and trailers

Durand Coldicott | Sun 2nd Feb 2020 15:00

Being able to share the joy of cycling with your child early is a great way of setting them up with a lifelong love for bikes. Whether you are covering a short distance or are off on a family adventure, there is a child bike seat or a bike trailer to suit. Here is our guide to choosing the right seat or trailer for you and your child.

Choosing the right child carrier for your bike

Adding a child seat or trailer to your bike is a great way to get out and explore as a family. Whether a short commute or a long adventure, there’s a child carrier out there to suit your style. Share the joy of cycling with your baby or toddler and let them see the world in a whole new way!

Depending on where you want to ride, your style of bike and the age/weight of your child determine the options you have in terms of a seat or trailer. Below is your guide to choosing the right child bicycle seat or trailer.

Where do you start?

Is your child up to it?

There is no set age for when you can take a child on the bike with you, but it’s a good idea to make sure they can sit independently. It would be unsafe to carry a child if they didn’t have the appropriate neck strength to absorb bumps and general bike movement. Once they can sit independently, around the age of 9-12 months, they should be able to ride in an appropriate seat with restraints.

Can you get a helmet?

If your child doesn’t have a helmet or can’t fit one, they shouldn’t be on a bike. Cycling can be dangerous, so you need to be sure they are adequately protected should you have an accident.

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Is your bike compatible?

Not all seats or trailers are compatible with every bike. Please check the relevant fit guides or talk to an expert at Evo to see whether the seat will work with the bike you would like it to fit on. Some seats require additional racks or brackets – not always sold with the seat itself – and they’re not all compatible with the style of bike you are trying to fit them on. Please ensure that the seat/rack has the appropriate tyre clearance, is rated to the child's weight, and mounts safely to the bike. An incorrectly fitting seat or trailer could cause injury, or damage to the seat or bike.

Types of child seat

Front Mounted Child Bike Seats

Front child seats are great for small children. In the front seat, they sit between your arms and are visible to you at all times. Front-facing seats give the child a perfect view of what is coming up, maximising their enjoyment and exposure to cycling. Although, this does mean the child is more exposed to the wind and sun.

This style of seat is designed for smaller children, as the bigger and heavier they get, the less space becomes available to pedal efficiently and the more cumbersome the steering becomes. Front seats typically mount to the bike in two ways, either by mounting directly to the top tube of the frame, or via a bracket around the fork steerer.

Main Benefits:
  • Light weight
  • Best view of the trail/path ahead
  • Close to the parent

Age suggestion: 9 months - 3 years (<15kg)

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Top Tube Mounted Child Bike Seats

Top tube seats are for small children who have confidence in holding on and following your instructions. It is the most minimal style of child seat, but also has the least restraint of the child. Your toddler or child is unrestrained in this seat type, so must be able to hold on on their own or they could fall off.

Top tube seats are great as an introduction to mountain biking, and can be mounted to virtually all bike frames, even carbon frames in some cases. Top tube seats allow the child to develop core cycling skills by actively participating in the ride - it will give your child the full riding experience and can be their introduction to offroad trails.

Main Benefits:
  • The closest feel to actual riding
  • Compatible with mountain bikes
  • Lightweight, minimal design

Age suggestion: 2 - 5 years (<22kg)

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Rear Mounted Child Bike Seats

A rear seat is probably the most common choice of child carrier and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They typically mount to the bike in two ways, either to a rear rack or via a cantilever bracket around the seat tube or top tube.

Rear racks fit most bikes, with the exception of dual suspension mountain bikes and high-end road bikes. Rear racks provide great support for the child and allow full range of motion for the rider (parent). However, they can be quite heavy and shift the bike’s centre of gravity, given that the seat is situated so far back on the frame. At worst, they can make the front end of the bike light and difficult to control or even tip. However, if fitted well, they provide an excellent and simple means to get around with your child.

Main Benefits:
  • Compatible with a wide range of bikes
  • High level of support for the child
  • Rider’s pedalling is unobstructed

Age suggestion: 9 months - 5 years (<22kg)

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Towed - Child Bike Trailers

Towing your child in a trailer is a great option if you want to cover long distances, not impact the ride feel on your bike or want to carry multiple children or extra baggage. Trailers are a fun way to get around with your child and have the handy advantage of being multi purpose in a lot of cases. Many trailers can be converted to a stroller or jogging pram when not being towed behind your bike. Trailers can also be fully enclosed during inclement weather, so your youngster can stay protected from the elements or shaded from the sun.

Compared to bike seats, trailers provide a bit more protection in the event of an accident. Think of them as a roll cage in a tip over event, as opposed to a bike seat, if the parent crashes, the child comes tumbling down from a height too.

There are a few disadvantages to trailers however. You are further from your child so it is more difficult to see or hear how they are doing back there. A trailer increases the length of your ride, so it is less maneuverable than with a bike seat. Bike seats are also a lot lighter than a trailer, so it will take more pedal power to tow your child around, especially up hills.

Main Benefits:
  • Capable of towing multiple children or extra baggage
  • Child protected from sun and rain
  • Safer than on-bike child seats

Age suggestion: 9 months - 5 years (30kg - 45kg depending on model)

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