Child Bike Seat

Updated on April 20, 2008
J.W. asks from Seattle, WA
7 answers


I'm looking into buying a bike seat for my now 14-month old and have
a couple of questions for those of you that bike(d) with your

-At what age did you start riding with your child? Is 14 months too
young? At what age did you stop riding with them and why?

-I was looking online at the various models available and I see that
there are both rear and front seats. I've never actually seen a front seat before and don't know a thing about them. Do any of you have an opinion on which is better/safer/easier?

Thanks for your feedback.

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answers from Seattle on

We started riding with our sons the summer after they turned 1.

We've stopped with the older one when I became pregnant & wasn't biking [my husband doesn't bike.]. By the time I could ride again, the oldest was big enough to ride his own bike [nearly 4, 35-ish pounds]. The older one's gotten an occaisional ride around the cul-de-sac, and it's not that tough with a bigger child, as long as they keep their feet in the foot rests & out of the way for pedaling. I've done enough biking with heavy / oddly weighted loads that having a child on the back doesn't make me feel unstable.

We chose to get a rear seat mainly due to price & availability. The one complaint I have with it, is it's hard to carry stuff other than the child - the seat prevents you from using a rear panier, and a backpack would be in the child's face if the paretn were wearing one. We resolved this by getting front paniers.

In hindsight, a front seat would have made it easier to pack along standard diaper bag stuff, or a picnic lunch. It's also probably easier to have a conversataion with your child, or at least comment on the sights you're passing. With a rear seat, I'm rarely sure he can hear me. I can't speak to whether or not it feels in the way of your knees.

The trailers also resolve the storage problem. Plus, you might get more use from a trailer - even after your kiddo 'graduates' to riding his/her own bike, you can still lug stuff in the trailer [library books, lunch, sports gear for a park trip, etc].

Happy biking,



answers from Seattle on

Hi J. - you're right in not seeing many front seats here. I'm from Holland, where we all cycle A LOT. And there we usually have our kids in a seat attached to the front or the back of the bike. In fact, people find it safer to have their (younger) kids in front, where they can see them. And in Holland the trailers, even though sighted occasionally, are considered more of a hazard in traffic because car drivers my not always see them.
Usually from when the child is 20 lbs (or 9 kg) they have seats on the back of the bike, which tends to be more stable. There are some pretty fancy ones, some of which recline so the head of the baby is supported even when they fall asleep!
Note that the kids chairs are usually used with what one would call a "commuter bike" here, the more sturdy "upright" bikes. We don't generally attach the seats to road bikes, and some mountain bikes may not be suitable either.

In the end, it's what you feel safest with!



answers from Seattle on

I would definitely go with a trailer. If you crash, the trailer stays upright. They have a suspended seat and a five point safety harness. Also, you can put a blanket on their lap and they can have snacks handy in the side pockets. It's fun! They can see out the windows, or you can leave the front open on nice days.

With a bike seat, if you crash your baby will crash too.



answers from Seattle on

I just got a bike trailer, which nicely doubles as a jog stroller. I even got a double wide, so i can handle more than one kid. Some of the reasons i liked this solution have to do with safety - i feel like the kids are more protected inside the aluminum roll cage than they would be up on a seat, but it also is nice to have the mutli-tasker and extra cargo space this affords.

Of course, this solution is an order of magnitude more expensive than a bike seat.

Some people claim that bike seats are safer. They are not, for example, actually at road level. So, they're more visible, and less likely to be pelted with debris. Over all i trust the trailers more - they have mesh coverings to keep things off the kids, and just feel very stable and secure. Versus the bike seat, which is 25 extra pounds of moving weight above the center of gravity of your bike...

I think the advantage of the front seats, vs. the back, has more to do with being able to see your kid, and the kid being able to see where they are going, than with any sort of safety and stability.

As a note - more suited to people reading this - children need to wear helmets when biking, whether in a trailer or a seat. They do not make helmets for kids under one, because their necks aren't yet strong enough to hold up the helmet. Thus, the minimum age for biking is 1 year old.

Additionally, either of the solutions is going to be safer at lower speeds, and on bike trails, than fast on a road. I'm a committed bike commuter and tourist, so i want to go fast on roads a lot. But i think it takes some compromise, and some babysitting, the keep the little ones safe.

Good luck!

ps. a web search should turn up some info - maybe start with the cascade bicycle site. But i've gotta run so i can't dig it up right now.



answers from Seattle on

i read recently that the front ones allow you to keep better control of the bike. i haven't tried any yet tho. we're looking at a trailer but my son is only 4 1/2 mos, so we have some time.
i did use the rear kind back when i babysat in the 80's and found it very hard to control. in hindsight, i think it was dangerous b/c he was too heavy. i was riding with a 2 1/2-3 yo and he was large for his age. unless you're really strong, i would think that would be th top end.
good luck finding something that works for you!



answers from Seattle on

Hi J.,

I have a two year old daughter and a 7 month old son. We went looking for a bike seat as soon as my daughter could sit up for a long time without falling over (around 7 or 8 months). In the end, instead of getting a bike seat we bought a little child trailer that goes behind the bike. It just seemed more safe. I have active children that love the outdoors and I was worried my daughter would see something she liked, a dog or a squirrel, and try to "jump" out of her seat and tip us over. Also as they get older it's hard to keep the bike steady while putting your child in or out. My daughter LOVED the trailer, that whole summer we would go places with her in it, and then the next summer (when she was 15-20 months) she loved it even more. It was nice to be able to put library books in the trailer on our way home, or to pack a snack for the park. Plus most come with two seats and this summer we can put our son in as well. Fourteen months is definitely old enough for any type of bike seat, perhaps too old for the ones that put your child on the back of the bike. (our daughter is also very tall, and so she would have outgrown a bike seat very quickly). I would suggest finding a bike trailer you like, they have five part harnesses, shocks, padded seats, and when you stop at a red light they won't tip you over!


answers from Seattle on


I don't remember when, or where I heard this, but I've heard that the child seats are incredibly dangerous. That being said, we have a bike trailer that can also be converted into a stroller.

Hope this helps,

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